Humanitarian organisation the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has announced the launch of a new challenge that is inviting proposals for innovative and affordable packaging solutions.

The organisation is seeking new packaging solutions for use in the delivery of medical supplies across Sierra Leone, West Africa.

Titled ‘Innovative Packaging for Last Mile Medical Supply Delivery’, the challenge requires participants to submit a packaging solution that can effectively protect and track medical supplies at every stage of the supply chain.

The IRC said that the packaging solution should be affordable, with the cost point to be no more than $14.80 per year for each solution.

The specified cost constraint is one of the most important components of this challenge, the organisation said, as it will allow the wider adoption and use of the solution by the IRC’s ground teams both in the Sierra Leone region and beyond.

The challenge will remain open until 9 October this year. The body confirmed that the winning packaging solution will be eligible to receive up to $25,000 as a reward, after meeting all of the stringent requirements and award criteria of the test.

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IRC pharmacy advisor Wambui Waithaka said: “Reusable, trackable, and weather/tamper-proof packaging solutions will contribute greatly to our mission.

“We hope that this challenge addresses the deficiencies in current medical supply delivery packaging. Unexplained delays, lack of quality assurance, and loss of stock hampers our pledge to provide high-quality commodities to meet patient needs and improve health outcomes.”

The IRC’s project advisor for this challenge will be business consulting and services provider SeaFreight Labs.

SeaFreight founder and CEO Harry Sangree said: “At its core, this is a logistics problem – with the twist of a severe cost constraint and a harsh operating environment.

“I am hopeful that the experts in the Wazoku Crowd [community] will apply their creativity and expertise to the problem so that the IRC finds a world-class way to transport life-saving medical supplies to rural clinics.”