Thoughts from the Last Mile Welcome to the VillageReach Blog
Jan 22 2015

VillageReach operates several programs in the areas affected by the recent flooding in Malawi including the Kwitanda Community Health Project, located in Balaka District. VillageReach’s ongoing work in Kwitanda highlights the critical role of infrastructure and how systemic improvements are critical to community health outcomes, especially when disaster hits.

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Jan 20 2015

 

This week, our blog, Thoughts from the Last Mile is dedicated to our staff who live and work in Malawi and Mozambique where devastating flooding this past week has greatly intensified the existing barriers to healthcare delivery brought on by a lack of infrastructure-energy, roads, communications, etc.  While aid is available, the inability to get aid to those in need remains a significant challenge. This critical lack of access is the basis on which VillageReach was created.

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Jan 08 2015

Why Peer-to-Peer Learning is a Critical Part of Health System Improvement

As the Country Director for VillageReach in Mozambique, I am very encouraged by the progress we have made in the last 12 months. Great strides were made at the national level to bring attention to the need for supply chain system optimization based on the achievements of the Dedicated Logistics System (DLS). Peer-to-peer learning played a key role in that progress.

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Dec 17 2014

Last week, the Ministry of Health in Mozambique hosted the yearly national level meeting for the Expanded Program on Immunizations (EPI). Several people from each of the ten provinces in the country as well as the national level participated, including the provincial level medical chief and the EPI managers. It was a time to reflect back on recommendations made at last year’s meeting, review the data coming from the provincial EPI programs, and identify ways to improve activities.

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Dec 04 2014

The Role of Data Collection and One Community’s Path Toward Change

While working on the Kwitanda Community Health Project (KCHP), based in the Kwitanda catchment area, Balaka District, in southern Malawi, I have seen firsthand how critical the role of data collection is to improving health outcomes. In this rural and remote setting, the news of a maternal death spreads quickly, but quietly, almost like a rumor or story. “Did you hear? Another mother died in childbirth in that village. Another neonatal death occurred last week.” It is difficult to understand the causes of the death, or how often they occur because little information is collected and reported on these events.

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Nov 21 2014

Last week marked the seventh annual Global Health Supply Chain Summit, which brings together academics, supply chain specialists, ministry of health representatives, bi-laterals, and even private sector logisticians each year to check in, explore new ideas, report on studies, and essentially challenge each other to keep improving supply chain management in the countries where we work.

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Oct 10 2014

I am a clinician by profession, serving a population of over 30, 000 in the 25 villages that my health center serves. I am the only clinician at the health facility with a single nurse to assist covering when possible.  We recently lost the only health surveillance assistant that was trained as a drug clerk as she has left to pursue a one and a half year course in midwifery. This leaves me as the only clinician and also the only person to manage stocks in the medicine store (pharmacy).  I undertake the majority of dispensing responsibilities as the hospital attendants that sometimes need to fill this role are not knowledgeable about medicines. When it’s month end, I am also responsible for doing the physical inventory and producing a monthly report.  Each of these tasks requires time away from my primary responsibility of treating patients. This results in less time with patients, and inadequate reporting of essential information required to manage inventory. For example, I am not sure the reports that I send are even a true representation of the situation on the ground due to the limited time I have to devote to this task.

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Oct 07 2014
It seems like a stretch—using Legos to find efficiencies in a vaccine supply chain. But that was the concept we worked with last week in Mozambique with representatives from both national and provincial level Ministry of Health, UNICEF, WHO, and VillageReach, led by the HERMES logistics team taking us through the use of the HERMES modeling tool. The HERMES model, which stands for Highly Extensible Resource for Modeling Supply Chains, allows a ministry of health to simulate different scenarios in a vaccine supply chain by changing the different components to find efficiencies.
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Aug 28 2014

A few weeks back, my colleague Rachel Powers wrote about VillageReach’s customized deployment of an open-source electronic logistics system (OpenLMIS) in Mozambique, where it is referred to as SELV (Sistema Electrónico de Logística de Vacinas). Along with members of our team, she and I have been closely working together in the development, user testing, and launch of SELV in-country. When I facilitated a week-long training in Maputo in June this year, the excitement I felt about SELV and the positive changes it could bring about was reflected in the faces and attitudes of everyone present in the room. The 15 people being trained included a mix of provincial-level vaccine logistics staff who would use the system regularly and central-level government officials in-charge of country-wide vaccine logistics and monitoring and evaluation of newborn and child health statistics.

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Aug 11 2014

Since beginning my technology associate internship at VillageReach, I’ve learned that strengthening health systems in developing countries requires reliable health information and improved decision-making capacity at all levels. Without real information on who needs what and where things are going it’s impossible to keep health centers supplied with the commodities they need to treat their patients.

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