Tower Power Saves Lives

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Keep vaccines cool in poor countries with electricity from cellphone masts

Staff at Morganster Hospital, which serves a remote community in Zimbabwe’s Masvingo province, used to sleep fitfully. If the power failed and a back-up generator was offline – common problems in the impoverished nation – they would have to jump out
of bed and drive for 26 kilometres to stash their stock of life-saving vaccines
in a fridge in the provincial capital.

But those days are over, thanks to a pilot project that is testing a simple idea floated in the pages of New Scientist. In that article, infectious disease specialist Harvey Rubin of
the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and Alice Conant, then a student at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California, suggested using surplus power from cellphone towers to run the refrigerators needed to keep perishable vaccines cool (18 September 2010, p 24).

(Source: NewScientist ¦ 26 May 2012)

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