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This thing looks like a huge thermos, and it is. By keeping rotavirus and pneumonia vaccines cold for 50 days, it saves kids’ lives. I saw it work perfectly in a rural health outpost with no running water or electricity, just an amazing health worker using technology suited to her needs.

There are coolers that keep sperm and eggs frozen for decades.

Yeah, but those coolers need electricity, something in very short supply in rural Ethiopia. (More than 60 million Ethiopians live outside or urban centers, and most of them—and most of the health centers that serve them—are without power or running water.) There are refrigerators that use propane or gas to keep cool, but propane can be expensive and difficult to keep in steady supply, so these ridiculously efficient Thermoses are (literally) a life-saver.

It’s difficult to overstate the poverty here: Most of the plowing of fields is done with wooden plows drawn by cattle, and there are almost no cars on the roads. (Most people travel by foot or on handmade carts drawn by animals). That Ethiopia has been able to reduce under-5 mortality from 25% to 8% in the past 20 years despite this poverty and a very rural population is a tremendous success story, and with effectively outfitted health posts, that percentage will get even lower—hopefully within the next decade Ethiopia’s child mortality rate will fall below the current world average of 5%.

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