Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Bracelets as Vaccine Reminders

Childhood vaccinations save lives. But vaccine schedules are fairly complex; how is a young uneducated mother in a poor country to remember when to bring her baby back for the next required vaccination? How, even, is the health care worker to know, in places where health care records are not well-kept?

Here's a clever idea; a simple flexible silicon bracelet that can be attached to the child's ankle. The idea came to Lauren Braun, a former Cornell University premedical student, while she was working in Peru one summer. Numbers on the bracelet represent the months when a mother should bring her child back for a vaccination, and symbols represent the various vaccinations needed. When a vaccination is completed the nurse punches out a symbol on the bracelet. And when all symbols are punched out, the child is fully vaccinated and the bracelet is removed. The bracelet costs about 10 cents.

Lauren has tested her idea on more than a hundred children in Peru and says that mothers and nurses seemed to find the bracelets useful. Recently her non-profit organization Alma Sana Inc. raised money through a crowd-funding campaign to fund a controlled study of thousands of mothers and infants in several countries, to prove to the medical community that the idea works. As the Alma Sana website says, "Together lets vaccinate all of the world's children".

It's often the simplest ideas that work best. Way to go, Lauren.

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