Technology helps to save children's lives in Indonesia

Iota Services
Friday, 24 January, 2014

An innovative technology developed by South East Water and adapted for the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute (MCRI) is being used in research to save the lives of children in developing countries.

A data logging system originally designed to monitor water pressure, flow and temperature is now used to monitor storage of a new rotavirus vaccine ‘RV3’ in Indonesia. The trial vaccine project is funded by the Australian Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Rotavirus is a life-threatening diarrhoeal disease affecting millions of children under the age of five worldwide. The effects can be devastating and we hope that the development of this new oral vaccine means children can be protected from birth quickly and effectively, without the need for needles,” said lead MCRI researcher Professor Julie Bines.

Research pharmacy manager Dr Pramitha, who is working on the trial, and Fadlan. Photo credit: Murdoch Institute.

However, Indonesia’s unreliable electricity supply and hot climate can compromise the storage and transport of the vaccine. Vaccine stock must be stored in low-temperature freezers before thawing and distribution to villages via motorcycle. Once thawed, the vaccine must be used within six hours. If the vaccine becomes too warm, it must be replaced, costing millions of dollars in replacement stock and delaying the progress of this important trial.

MCRI approached South East Water for a solution and iota - the commercial arm of South East Water which promotes innovative ideas and proven technologies to the utility sector - donated data loggers and introductory training to the Indonesian research group.

Manager of iota services Jean-Paul Lambe explained: “South East Water’s data loggers are programmed to send regular freezer temperature updates via SMS and email. If power is lost or the temperature starts to rise above programmed limits, the logger sends an SMS alert. These data loggers have streamlined the warning systems freeing up valuable staff resources so MCRI can concentrate on delivering a sound vaccine trial.”

Kevin Hutchings, managing director of South East Water, says the data loggers are already used by the industrial gas sector with room for further growth in agriculture, mining and oil.

“South East Water is delighted to support Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in their mission to improve the health of children in the developing world. The fact we can take a piece of technology originally designed for the utilities sector and adapt it for public health use demonstrates South East Water’s agility and commitment to innovation, ” Hutchings said.

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