It would be very attempting to set up ColaLife as an NGO but I strongly believe that the organisations needed to implement the ColaLife already exist and that we should focus on joining things up and facilitating relationships to make things happen. Now and again I receive a message that reassures me that this is correct and that this is the right approach. This arrived yesterday from Cami Allen who is the Program Manager at an organisation called ‘Vitamin Angels’. Check them out here. Cami has now joined the ColaLife Google Group.
It is a pleasure to find Colalife. In the past year we have approached Danone and Nestle regarding the potential for piggybacking vitamin A supplementation onto their existing distribution systems in markets with deep penetration down to the household level. Obviously these markets are more limited in global scope than is CocaCola.
Vitamin A may be an ideal “social product” to add to the pod. I am not sure to what extent you have been involved specifically in health care interventions in developing countries, so I will give a short overview of vitamin A if you will bear with me:
Vitamin A supplementation in over 60 priority countries is a key health intervention recommended by WHO/UNICEF. Vitamin A is known as the anti-infective vitamin, guarding against external infection. It is essential to the immune system, especially in children under five who are most susceptible to infectious diseases. Deficiency of vitamin A (VAD) is a major contributor to the mortality of children under five. Leading causes of death, including measles, malaria, acute respiratory infections, and diarrhea are reduced substantially by vitamin A supplementation alone.
% reduction of U5MR due to vitamin A supplementation:
- Measles (50%)
- Diarrhea (33%) an
- Overall mortality (23%).
Operational research also shows evidence that vitamin A supplementation of neonates (in the first 2-3 days of life) can reduce mortality by a further 23-60%.
Vitamin A supplements are practical:
- Need to be taken just once each six months. The body is able to store vitamin A in the liver, making it possible to get adequate vitamin A status with one high-dose capsule each 4-6 months.
- No special storage or transport conditions (usually) required. Vitamin A very stable; relatively cool, dry environments are all that is needed
- Some basic training is required to distribute, but no specialist medical personnel required.
- Not controversial, and as a policy is already supported by virtually all national governments (as well as WHO and UNICEF).
In addition, it is considered to be one of the best investments possible from an cost-efficiency and efficacy standpoint:
Vitamin A supplementation is also aligned with the Colalife goals to address MDGs 4 and 6 – and when given to deficient mothers, MDG 5 as well. It’s also aligned with Aims 1, 2, 4 and 5.
Anyway, we are pleased to have found your group and look forward to contributing to this discussion whenever possible. Down the road, if vitamin A supplements were to be selected as an appropriate “social product” for the Aidpods, we would be more than willing to supply this product for the trial and beyond. In addition, Vitamin Angels is deeply committed to exploring new distribution systems via public-private partnership, and there is some possibility that we may be able to commit other resources as well in order to make this happen.
If you’re interested in reviewing us further, our website is at www.vitaminangels.org. I have to warn you that the site is quite dated and not reflective of the strategic focus that we have adopted over the past 18 months. (A new site geared toward both our professional associations and cultivating our supporter base online will launch in May.)