Founder and Chairman of the Board
Regional Coordinator: Africa
Monitoring and Evaluation Manager
Support Technician -- Benin
Support Technician -- Benin
The Gates Foundation through a generous grant were our first major backer. In November 2010, they awarded VaxTrac a $100,000 Grand Challenges Exploration Award. Since then The Gates Foundation has continued to support VaxTrac providing an additional $95,000 in project funding for expansion of the Benin project in 2013.
Blue Sky encourages individuals and communities to imagine and work toward a world with a higher quality of life, education, and economic and technological development. Blue Sky strives to identify the root cause of a problem, and using innovative techniques, attack and fix it permanently.
(Formerly Mission India Foundation)[ www.mifusa.org ]
Mother & Infant Foundation is a frontline provider of supplemental childhood immunization, operating in Narnaul, Haryana, India.
The idea for VaxTrac first germinated in 2006 while the organization’s founder, Heath Gross, completed a six month assessment of the vaccine industry in emerging markets. The research was in support of a major vaccine manufacture’s global vaccine strategy, but for Heath, it exposed a serious deficiency in the current global immunization strategy.
Heath (right), and World Concern’s Thomas, in Southern Sudan.
After several months of research Heath developed an immunization tracking technology that would, in theory, drastically reduce vaccine waste and improve immunization reporting, tracking and planning.
In 2008 Heath was joined by Mark Thomas, a long time friend, who shared his vision and passion for improving the immunization process in developing countries. Mark immediately began to leverage his engineering background to explore ways to improve on Heath’s original design. Additionally, as a management consultant, Mark also brought fresh insight to the organizations business model.
Mark (right) and Daniel, Liethnam’s World Vision Medical Director.
By early 2009 VaxTrac had applied for 501c3 non-profit status and had been joined by a of number of volunteers and supporters.
In April of 2009 VaxTrac partnered with Nadus, a Sudan focused aid organization that works with Sudanese NGOs to provide clean water, education and medical aid. In June VaxTrac and Nadus visited Southern Sudan; for VaxTrac the trip was designed to observe the immunization process and to begin laying the groundwork for VaxTrac’s first in-country pilot program. After observing the immunization program in rural Southern Sudan and meeting with a number of top government and NGO leaders, VaxTrac returned to the United States more confident than ever that the VaxTrac system was indeed capable of reducing waste, improving immunization tracking and saving lives.
By late 2009, it was clear that if VaxTrac was going to grow, it needed strong centralized leadership. In November, Mark left his job as a management consultant to become the first Executive Director. One of his first acts was to recruit long time friend Shawn Sarwar away from his position as an R&D and marketing consultant for a major surgical navigation company. Shawn’s varied experience in biomedical engineering and medical device development led to his appointment as Research Director.
After spending nine months fundraising, developing software and refining service offerings, VaxTrac deployed its first prototype in October 2010 in Narnaul, India in partnership with Mission India Foundation. This 6 week program provided a clearer view of the problems facing frontline health workers and the key technical challenges that face a larger program implementation.
With lessons learned India, VaxTrac spent 2011 improving their custom biometric solutions for children and forging partnerships with key international stakeholders. In March 2012, VaxTrac launched a full scale pilot program in the environs of Cotonou and Porto-Novo, Benin in partnership with the Beninese Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization. Over the nine month initial phase, 30,000 children in two health communes were immunized using the VaxTrac system. In 2013 VaxTrac expanded the program to include two more communes in the Porto Novo region, bringing the participating clinics to over 30.