Bracelets Empower Moms and Ensure Kids Get Timely Vaccines
Never underestimate the determination, creativity and problem solving capacity of an aspiring global health student.
This month we’ve been featuring guest posts by several of our summer interns who have specific interests in global health and immunizations. Today we share a story of another global health student, Lauren Braun, who spent the summer of 2009 as an intern in Peru following her sophomore year at Cornell University. The challenges she observed in getting children timely immunizations inspired her to design a low-cost and innovative product that she hopes will one day be used by moms all over the world.
The idea came after Lauren spent the summer working at a Ministry of Health Clinic in Cusco, Peru. Part of her day was spent going out and looking for moms who had children that were due for their immunizations. Despite the fact that the health clinic offered free vaccines, and mothers clearly acknowledged the importance of vaccines for their children’s health, many of the moms were forgetting to bring their children in for their vaccines when they were due. So Lauren came up with a creative idea to help that was eagerly embraced by the nurses.
In the video below, Lauren explains how she designed a simple silicone bracelet that moms could use to remind themselves of their children’s vaccination dates. The way it works is that there are different numbers that represent the age that the child should be brought in to the clinic (2 months, 4 months, etc.) and also different symbols that represent the different vaccines. When a child is brought to the clinic, a nurse would hole-punch the bracelet to indicate which vaccines have been administered, leaving the symbols for those vaccines that were still needed in the future. Not only are the bracelets highly customizable to the needs of a local culture, they are also waterproof, durable, comfortable, baby-safe and can be designed to be worn up to four years of age. Beyond the physical reminders that these bracelets represent, they are also a great way to increase general awareness about the vaccines that are recommended throughout childhood.
In order to expand on her idea, Lauren created a non-profit company, Alma Sana, Inc., that received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The funds helped Alma Sana produce the bracelets and complete an initial research study with 150 moms that were followed for six months. But she’s not stopping there.
The organization is now ready for a Phase II study that will roll the program out to 5,000 moms that they will follow for a full year. They’ve already lined up partners in Nigeria, Pakistan and Colombia, in hopes of gathering the evidence they need to determine how effective the bracelets are, and with what populations the bracelets work best with.
This is a pretty big undertaking, and the reason why Alma Sana is currently looking to raise $100,000.
When parents skip or delay vaccines, whether it is intentional or not, they leave their child vulnerable to disease for a longer period of time. Learn more about this initiative to ensure kids get timely immunizations all across the globe and contribute to their fundraising campaign here.
To help Alma Sana, Inc. fulfill their objective of getting children timely vaccines, please tell your friends, family, and colleagues about the campaign and encourage them to make a contribution. You can even follow their progress by liking Alma Sana, Inc. on Facebook and following them on Twitter.
Please share other innovative immunization campaigns in the comments below so that we can continue to highlight programs that are in need of support here on our Shot of Prevention blog.