(photo credit: AP)
More than 65,000 kids have received vaccinations over the past three months
thanks to Jewish Heart for Africa’s solar-powered refrigerators, Rachel Ishofsky,
JHA’s associate executive director, told The Jerusalem Post by phone from Uganda
In August 2009, Uganda was declared Polio-free, but in
September 2010, the World Health Organization confirmed two new cases. As a
result, the Ugandan government decided to vaccinate 2 million children under the
age of five.
However, the Ugandan Health Ministry needed a way to
refrigerate the vaccines somewhere along the way between the capital and the
door-to-door vaccination route in some of the rural areas, Ishofsky said. Aware
of JHA’s success in providing solar-powered refrigerators to rural health
clinics not far from the two cases, district health offices reached out to local
JHA staffer Dr. Samson Wamani.
JHA uses Israeli solar technologies in
rural medical facilities to provide light for nighttime medical care, and to
power 50- 75-liter solar-powered refrigerators.
Health workers would come
get the vaccines being stored in the refrigerators and then go out on bikes door
to door to inoculate the children.
Uganda even brought Wamani in to the
organizing committee of the emergency campaign. The campaign consisted of three
days of vaccinations each month from November to January. The last set of
booster shots was completed this week, Ishofsky told the Post.
did the doctors go from hut to hut, they went into playgrounds and communal
bathrooms to make sure they had found every kid,” said Ishofsky, who is in
During an after-action assessment on Monday, “they discovered
that they had vaccinated 104% of their target population – meaning they had
found even more kids than were registered with them,” she said.
provides solar technology for lighting, refrigeration and water pumps in schools
and medical clinics in Uganda, Ethiopia and Tanzania. Without a water pump,
village women have to spend hours a day hauling unclean water. The nonprofit New
York-based organization has powered 12 medical clinics so far. From Uganda,
Ishofsky is traveling to Tanzania to check up on the group’s projects there.
Later this month, JHA is launching operations in Malawi as well, she
JHA is also looking to tackle another major health issue – the use
of kerosene for lighting in houses. “Burning kerosene causes lung diseases in
children, and there have been stories about houses burning down. Moreover, I was
told by locals here that kerosene costs $1 per liter, and they use 1 to 2 liters
per week. Most people earn less than a dollar a day,” Ishofsky said.
is looking into bringing solar-powered lanterns as an alternative to kerosene.