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Healthcare Vending Machines

Inspired by Irune's posting on Dispensaries in Ecuador, what if we think of a model to deliver basic health-care items such as vitamins, oral rehydration salts, birth kits, condoms, zinc tablets, etc. via a vending machine?

Photo of Krassimira Iordanova
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Placement: the vending machine could be placed closed to the local store where people usually go to purchase stuff.
Supply: A group of youngsters on bikes and backpacks will supply the vending machines. They will travel to the pharmacy in the city or a wholesaler, purchase basic medication, which can be delivered to the the remote rural areas without the need of a prescription from a physician, in bulk and resell it via the vending machines.
Training: The youngsters will receive a basic training, say 2-3 days to understand what they are buying/selling.
Demand: the buyers are local people in need for some basic medication. A plastic flipcard could hang on the vending machine with pictorial instructions i.e. how to use a condom, how to use oral rehydration salts in case of diarrhea for a child, for adult, etc.

Source of inspiration:

Additional source of inspiration: Today I read that China’s answer to anemia in rural regions has been to feed children eggs. Nearly 40 percent of kids in Gansu Province, one of China’s poorest places, have the iron deficiency, which often leads to lethargy and developmental problems that can impede their school performance and hurt their chances of leaving this desolate area for well-paying jobs in the city.

Researchers are comparing Gansu with a neighboring province, where the children receive vitamins every morning. Early results from two tests involving about 1,600 children show the eggs did nothing to lower the anemia rates in Gansu. In villages where kids received a chewable vitamin every day, anemia usually went down by as much as 45 percent. It’s a cheap fix—about 3 cents a day—to a problem that could have big societal costs.

A mom of a kid who as participating in the program says she’d like to buy vitamins once her son stops getting them through the program, but there’s a hitch: She doesn’t know where she’d get them, and she has no idea how much they would cost.

So, vitamins from the local health vending machine might be a good start? What do you think?


Join the conversation:

Photo of David Chang

I like the initiative. How could we tackle security? In some towns in Ecuador, robbers could pose a big threat to backpackers carrying medicine to the vending machines. Also, we could think about the usage of green sources of energy (solar, eolic?), so this could be applied in rural areas.

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