Arizona researchers create self-sufficient, movable health care clinic

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PHOENIX, Ariz. (CBS) Student researchers in Arizona have created a way to bring medical care to areas in desperate need. It's a solar-powered medical clinic inside a shipping container.

At 40-feet-long and nine-and-a-half feet high, this shipping container could save lives around the world.

Arizona State University student Cody Van Cleve is part of the team that created this containerized clinic. "This is kind of the triage, flexible workspace area," he said.

The self-contained, self-powered mobile doctor's office is equipped to handle nearly every kind of basic outpatient service. It can be deployed virtually anywhere by truck, rail or ship.

"We're talking about providing medical care in disaster response scenarios, humanitarian situations or military operations where there's no existing infrastructure," Van Cleve said.

The U.S. Office of Naval Research sponsored the project, tasking students with finding a way to get medical care to the world's most vulnerable people in the most remote areas.

"Human conflicts and climate change are increasing the incidents of displaced people and refugees around the world," said Nathan Johnson, a professor at Arizona State University.

To ensure the system will be self-reliant in nearly any environment, the team designed the clinic to run entirely on solar power with batteries built in for backup. An onboard water treatment system is capable of cleaning nearly 1,200 gallons an hour.

This prototype will face its first real test this summer in a refugee camp in Uganda where it aims to provide health care to some 12,000 refugees.

A team from Arizona State plans to travel to Uganda in August to help get the first container clinic up and running.