Introducing solar-powered vaccine refrigerator and freezer systems. A guide for managers in national immunization programmes
Refrigerators powered by gas or kerosene have long been considered the best option for storing vaccines in areas with unreliable electricity. Even so, drawbacks with these devices have made keeping vaccines at temperatures within the safe range of +2°C to +8°C both difficult and expensive. Battery-powered solar refrigerators have addressed some of the drawbacks, but the batteries they rely on are expensive and typically have a lifetime of just three to five years. A new refrigerator technology, named “solar direct-drive” (SDD), eliminates the need for batteries, and therefore has the potential to resolve battery-powered vaccine refrigerator problems and help extend the cold chain into areas that might otherwise be underserved. This document provides managers in national immunization programmes with guidance on how to implement successful solar-powered vaccine refrigerator and freezer systems. The guidance takes into account important new developments in refrigerator technology, and is based on lessons learned during the 30 years since solar refrigerator systems were first used in immunization programmes. The document is organized according to the key stages in the process of implementing successful solar-powered vaccine refrigerator and freezer systems. The Annex contains additional resources that can assist managers in implementing solar refrigeration systems.