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Using the Coca-Cola supplier network to distribute medicines in Africa

Although Coca-Cola products are readily available for sale in remote African villages, many of the life saving medicines needed for easily treatable diseases can only be obtained at health clinics located a day-long walk, or further, away. So an innovative nonprofit called ColaLife developed packaging and a method for using the Coca-Cola distribution network to distribute medicines, specifically anti-diarrhea kits, in Zambia.

The nonprofit's work is highlighted in a new documentary film titled "The Cola Road." In the above film trailer, ColaLife founders Simon and Jane Berry discuss the project and Tim Llewellyn, designer of the Aidpod device used to deliver medicines in Coke crates, explains how the medicines are packaged and transported. Scientific American's Talking back blog reports on the success of the project:

Tiny village shops, always stocked with Coke, have now started to receive oral rehydration Kit Yamoyos (kits of life)—and, no, Coke itself is not a particularly good rehydration fluid, despite the lore. Thousands of the kits have been sold already in Zambian rural districts and the Ministry of Health, the film points out, now has plans to use the same supplier network to distribute other types of medicine. The income for the shopkeepers provides an incentive to keep the kits on the shelves.

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