Across the globe, the number one killer of children under five is pneumonia. What's the second? Diarrhea. According to the World Health Organization, in 2017 423,000 little kids died from acute diarrhea. Think about that for a minute. Wembley Stadium holds 90,000. It would take almost 5 Wembley Stadiums to hold all the kids who died from diarrhea in 2017 alone.
Here in the USA, the treatment usually goes like this: run down to the local drug store or your doctor, get some medicine, drink lots of fluids and within a day or two it's gone. But what if you lived in a place where there isn't a drug store on every corner? What if there wasn't a drug store on ANY corner? No medicine means no treatment. No treatment can literally mean death.
On effective medicine is called oral rehydration salts. It's inexpensive and easy to administer but getting it to the people who need it is the real problem. Back in
2013, an organization called ColaLife found a simple solution within a crate of Coca Cola bottles.
You see, Coca Cola is a universal product that can be found in every far-flung corner of the globe. ColaLife used clever packaging to piggyback on Coke's existing distribution. Picture a crate of Coke bottles. There's a lot of empty space between the bottle necks. ColaLife designed a package that would fit in that unused space.
The kit, known as "Kit Yamoyo", involves oral rehydration salt sachets, pediatric zinc to strengthen children's immunity and soap to promote hand washing. The packaging is designed to help mothers to measure the right amount of water to add.
The product/distribution model was tested in the African nation of Zambia. Previously, mothers would often walk more than 4 miles (!) to a clinic, only to find that anti-diarrheal medicineswere out of stock. Currently the medicine, in the Kit Yamoyo form, is available throughout Zambia at supermarkets and hundreds of small, community shop keepers. The Zambian government is also buying a government-branded version and distributing it to front-line health centers where it is give to care-givers for free.
The thing I find most interesting is that only a small percentage of the kits ended up being distributed using the original Coca Cola model. It turns out that once parents became familiar with the treatment, more and more of them wanted it for their kids. The desire for the product has driven the creation of a dedicated local manufacturing and distribution system. New and less costly packages have led to wider adoption which continues to save hundreds of not thousands of childrens' lives.