Thoughts from the Last Mile Welcome to the VillageReach Blog
01.09 2018

Voices of 2017: A Year in Review

At VillageReach, we often use numbers and data to understand how our work increases access to quality health care. Since our founding in 2000, our programs have reached more than 20 million people in sub-Saharan Africa – and that number continues to grow. But as we look at the progress we made in 2017, numbers only tell part of the story. The success of VillageReach is also reflected by our collaboration with partners, our dedicated staff and the generosity of our supporters. Their voices tell us why 2017 has been such a remarkable year:

Mrs. Machel shares a moment with VillageReach staff

“It is only when you combine local knowledge, local systems and local reach with global knowledge and a global network, that an initiative will get rooted and grow.”

-Mrs. Graça Machel, Advocate for Women & Children’s Rights

Graça Machel returned to Seattle after 17 years, when she first helped inspire the founding of VillageReach. At a gathering of VillageReach staff and supporters, Ma Machel spoke of her passion for supporting women and children around the world – and the importance of starting at the last mile. Her wisdom and experience reignited the same passion in all of us at VillageReach.

“We have committed funding, people, and resources to design a system not just for today, but also for the future.”

-Dr. José Mozembela, Chef de Division Provinciale de la Santé, Equateur, DRC

VillageReach expanded its flagship work on health supply chains to more countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo. Working with the Ministry of Health, VillageReach began distributions of vaccines and family planning products in rural Equateur province. With a new office in the DRC, we are dedicated to using our experience in supply chain optimization to ensure vaccines and other health products are available, even in challenging geographies and the most remote communities.

Omega, a hotline worker, answers calls  from the CCPF call center

“When scale up is complete, CCPF will serve more than 17 million people, significantly extending the reach of health systems.”

-Upile Kachila, Technical Assistant, VillageReach Malawi

Chipatala cha pa Foni – a health hotline based in Malawi – is preparing for national expansion and a transition to full government ownership. A Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Ministry of Health signifies the deep commitment of the government to this innovative health program. The hotline’s headquarters also moved from its original facility in Balaka to a larger facility in the capital. In 2018, VillageReach will work with partners to complete expansion to all districts and set up the hotline for long-term success at national scale.

A testing corridor in Malawi allows organizations to test the use of UAVs.

“We start with big promising ideas and work towards creating evidence of their impact in the hardest-to-reach communities.”

-Jessica Crawford, Director & Group Lead, Health Systems, VillageReach

VillageReach continues to look for bold ideas that have potential to increase access to quality health care. We continue developing our Drones for Health program, making use of the new drone corridor in Malawi to begin a new stage of testing. VillageReach also began exploring ride-sharing as a way to transport lab samples from rural health centers to central laboratories. By taking advantage of vehicles already traveling between these facilities, the time to deliver these samples could be greatly reduced. In Malawi, VillageReach began work on a digital job aid to help cold chain technicians keep vaccine refrigerators running properly.

“Med25 and VillageReach are united by the shared pursuit of innovative approaches to health care in rural communities in Africa.”

-Rebecca Okelo, Manager, Health Systems, VillageReach and Founder, Med25 International

In March of 2017, Med25 – an organization that developed social enterprises to support health care in rural communities – joined VillageReach. As one of VillageReach’s newest programs, Med25 is helping identify sustainable health solutions to communities at the last mile.

“OpenLMIS Version 3 is an exciting evolution of the OpenLMIS initiative that will meet the current and future needs of countries to manage supply chains.”

-Kaleb Brownlow, Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

OpenLMIS launched Version 3, making significant changes that allow easier adaption to the needs of individual countries. A vaccine-specific module is in development to help meet the data needs of vaccine supply chain managers. In Malawi, OpenLMIS was introduced nation-wide, giving more insight into products available at health facilities.

Emily Bancroft, VillageReach President

“I am constantly inspired by our team’s ability to collaborate, innovate, and increase the impact of our programs.”

-Emily Bancroft, President, VillageReach

In December 2017, Emily Bancroft was named VillageReach President. Emily joined VillageReach in 2010 after many years working in both domestic and global health delivery and helped expand its programs and team globally. Her continued leadership will strengthen VillageReach’s impact in the coming year and beyond.

VillageReach has leapt into 2018 with great enthusiasm. As we continue building the groundswell for access to quality health care, our work with partners and communities is more important than ever. We are grateful for the support we have received from our donors, colleagues, and partners, and we look forward to continued success well into the future!

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Malawi healthcare worker