I have been interested in making a social impact since my childhood. I was exposed to the concept early on by my family, who has always been active in doing social good in their community. When I was in university, India started the immunization journey of making India polio-free. I participated in the Pulse Polio program organized by the Rotary International club and the Government of India. I actively arranged pulse polio camps at our house and did door-to-door campaigns while giving polio doses to children. At the end of the day, we created reports of how many children were given polio doses, etc. Yet I realized that we were doing a blind campaign that was not very efficient. It worked like an umbrella campaign; however, this also meant we were wasting a lot of resources which could have been used elsewhere. Also, I realized that proper monitoring wasn’t happening. We were keeping manual records, and many times, I would fill in data purely based on memory!
When we look at immunization coverage data across the world, it has been stuck at about 80 percent for decades, despite international health organizations like GAVI, WHO, and international governments spending billions of dollars in immunization across the globe. Still, over 3 million children die every year worldwide due to diseases which easily can be prevented by proper vaccination: 1 in every 5 children remains un-immunized.
And India has the largest number of unimmunized children. This is largely due to our old-school record keeping, a paper-based system that is 70 years old. It is outdated, broken, and inefficient.
My idea was to contribute towards making our children healthy by ensuring that each and every child is properly and fully immunized. Coincidently, one of friends whom I have known for the past 6 years was finishing her PhD in Immunology. So I proposed to her my idea of coming up with a solution to monitor child vaccinations. My co-founder, Dr. Nadeera Nilupamali, came on board, looking after product development, and between us, we had the business and science side of things accounted for. But we were still missing the technical component. Our team was complete when we found an experienced tech geek with more than 17 years in IT industry–Mr. Sudheera Lakmal, an AWS-certified Solution Architect.
Together, our idea was to come up with a tool–we knew it had to be a digital–that was easy for health organizations to access, did not divert from the current standard of procedure for vaccinations, and was accessible for parents of the child as well.
So we developed ImmunifyMe, a cloud-based ecosystem complete with a mobile app and a smart card. It monitors if the child has been properly vaccinated or not. Our technology ensures no child is left un-immunized.
It is a country agnostic, smart vaccine scheduling and monitoring tool. It sends timely reminders of the upcoming vaccination for the child. Vaccine records are available to the parents 24-7 through a mobile app, which can be shared with a medical professional or authorities when needed. Smart tracking and monitoring help identify any children who are missing vaccinations, and the data analytics help identify problem areas and take timely interventions.
Our pilots have shown up to a 20 percent increase in immunization coverage, along with resources saved and increased revenues for hospitals.
Our journey has been full of excitement. ImmunifyMe was one of the GAVI INFUSE Innovations for the year in 2018 and also one of the top 10 innovations at the 2018 World Health Summit held in Berlin. ImmunifyMe was also invited to participate in UN General Assembly held on New York in September 2018, to showcase how ImmunifyMe is working to stop falsified vaccines from coming into the system, ImmunifyMe was also awarded as the Top Global Impact Performer in Startup Thailand in 2018.
Most recently, ImmunifyMe has been nominated for this year’s FT/IFC Transformational Business Awards 2019. The FT/IFC Transformational Business Awards is the “leading global programme that highlights innovative, long-term private-sector solutions to major development challenges.”
We have received a grant of $60,000 USD from the Government of Chile and another €150,000 EURO from the Government of Luxembourg to develop the product and technology to align with the European Union’s standards.
We are currently operating in India, Chile, Sri Lanka, Rwanda, Malawi, Tanzania, Republic of Benin, and talking to many more African countries with the help of GAVI.
The world wakes up to 7 billion dreams every morning and about 10,000 of them will never dream again. Our effort is to allow every child to be healthy and let them dream of making their own social impact. Join us, and help make these dreams a reality!