Delivering supply counts by simply taking a picture

November 2021

ISHANGO makes it possible to rapidly count any health commodity anywhere - higher quality data about what’s already on the shelf is key for health systems to better match supply to demand.

Vaccines have been touted as the “single most life-saving healthcare innovation ever.” Vaccinations, not vaccines, save lives. Vaccine supply chains need visibility to better match supply to demand.


During and after mass polio vaccination campaigns, there is a risk of spreading type 2 poliovirus if all monovalent oral polio vaccine type 2 (mOPV2) vials are not properly distributed, handled, and deactivated. To prevent vial mismanagement, health workers are required to manually count, track, and account for every vial used after vaccination campaigns. But campaigns can produce hundreds or thousands of vials. The counting process is a time-intensive process, prone to error.


To ease the burden of counting thousands of vials and maintaining accountability through a complex reverse supply chain, Macro-Eyes developed ISHANGO - a mobile application for rapidly generating highly accurate vial counts from photos.

ISHANGO operates on inexpensive devices even if disconnected from mobile service. Turn a mobile- phone camera toward a surface dense with vials and take a picture; ISHANGO then runs details extracted from the images through a proprietary computer vision pipeline to rapidly and accurately calculate stock levels from what the phone saw.


Working with UNICEF, Macro-Eyes deployed and tested ISHANGO in remote parts of Nigeria and Zambia to help track polio vaccine vials. Counting over 320,000 vials, ISHANGO had a mean absolute error (MAE) of 0.025, significantly improving on the error-rate when commodities are counted by hand. ISHANGO is also 10x-50x faster than manual counting. ISHANGO simplified an unnecessarily arduous task, generated accurate, rapid counts, and provided ready access to real-time utilization data for polio campaign planning and verification.