ColaLife Trial Goes Live in Zambia

Thinking inside the box. Part 2.

Simon Berry and his wife Jane have worked tirelessly to see their ColaLife trial go live in Zambia. ColaLife seeks to distribute anti-diarrhea kits to remote villages, ingeniously packed into the empty spaces between bottles in Coca-Cola crates. Last month, the first Kit Yamoyo made it into the hands of a parent who needed the medicine to treat their child, a significant milestone in the ColaLife journey to save children from needless deaths.

ColaLife Trial Goes Live in Zambia

Image Credit: Guy Godfree

Simon Berry first visited Zambia in 1988, when he realized that saving children’s lives in remote areas could be as simple as ensuring they had access to simple oral rehydration medicines. Death from diarrhea is the second leading cause of death in rural Africa, killing one in five children before their first birthday. Even if a parent makes the 30-60 km journey to a remote village clinic, they are not likely to find any medicine in stock. Simon noticed that even in the most remote areas, Coca-Cola was easy to find, whether brought in by car, bicycle or mule-cart.

The many key steps to get the ColaLife Zambia trial ready to launch have included engineering the package design, working out the distribution channel logistics with multiple suppliers and local partnerships, and creating awareness and demand for the product.

Simon blogs frequently at about all aspects of the project, including trials, tribulations, how they have forged strategic partnerships at the local and state levels and how crowd-sourcing and the power of the internet has helped the ColaLife dream become a reality. The Zambia trial is expected to run for about 18 months.

Claire Ward, a former associate editor for Maclean’s magazine and post-graduate journalism student at New York University, has been in Zambia since July. She is documenting the ColaLife story in film and blogs for at  The Cola Road.

You can read more about the UK Charity ColaLife in my previous blog post, the global health innovation story I wrote for GE Healthy Outlook in June 2011.



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