I had the privilege of meeting Ruphin Ndumbala on my recent visit to Equateur province, DRC. Ruphin is one of the many frontline health workers who go above and beyond to ensure vaccines reach every last child. Recently, he made a promise, and I was honored enough to see him deliver.
“I used to spend at least two days’ roundtrip to collect vaccines.” Ruphin spoke outside of his clinic in rural Equateur province. “It was a big concern for my family that I was leaving behind, but also for the patients I was leaving unattended.”
Stories coming from Lolanga-Mampoko district in Equateur province often focus on the challenges communities face in accessing health care. I see these challenges every day and work with partners to help communities overcome them. But not all of our stories are about challenges. For this African Vaccination Week, we are celebrating what we have achieved over the past year.
Imagine a world with 18 million healthier children than today. Their lungs haven’t been collapsed by diphtheria, their legs haven’t been crippled by polio, they haven’t died from pneumonia before they were named.
These children grew up strong and healthy.
How do we make this imagined world a reality? This is what drives the OpenLMIS community every day. We strongly believe that with better access to supplies, data and feedback loops, vaccine rates will increase. OpenLMIS is at the forefront of moving information closer to those who need it and back to those who provided it. We do this by working with you– with partners, with governments and with health workers, OpenLMIS has developed an open source technology that supports the distribution of public health products to hard-to-reach places.
Vibrio cholerae can steal through a community quickly and quietly. This bacteria spreads in water or food, causing acute diarrhea that can cause severe dehydration and death in just a few short hours. But, cholera is both preventable and treatable.
Zambian Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya has seen first-hand the impact of cholera, and understands the vital role governments must play. As he said in a recent African Center for Disease Control (CDC) board meeting, it is unacceptable that a preventable and treatable disease such as cholera has continued to claim millions of lives worldwide. Dr. Chilufya agreed to sponsor a resolution on the elimination of cholera at the 2018 World Health Assembly – an important step towards global action.
The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. – Theodore Parker
This week we celebrate World Health Worker Week. I cannot think of a better testimony to health workers than those shown in “Bending the Arc”,a documentary chronicling the journey of the people behind Partners in Health. The VillageReach team gathered to screen this film, which beautifully chronicles the health workers, patients, and activists who demonstrate the value of building a “preferential option for the poor” in health care.
What technology has had the biggest impact on vaccine supply chains over the last 10 years?
There is no ‘magic bullet’ that has revolutionized vaccine supply chains over the last ten years. Instead, a range of technologies working in concert with one another have contributed to more effective and efficient supply chains. Developments in cold chain technology, data gathering and analytics, and even in transportation have all had significant impacts on the availability of vaccines. These technologies all must work in-sync with each other to provide both the infrastructure and information needed to ensure vaccines are available where and when they are needed and in the right condition. We must also ensure these technologies are appropriate and available at all levels of the supply chain. As a global community, we have greatly improved the systems, infrastructure and financing to ensure sufficient vaccines reach low-resource countries, but the real impact comes when these technologies and systems work all the way down to the last mile as well.
Izizi ndi Zathu Zomwe. This is ours. That’s the name my team of adolescent researchers has given a groundbreaking public health initiative—a close study of their peers’ needs, behaviors, and preferences related to contraceptives. That name signals the importance of the qualitative, context-specific information required to succeed in such an initiative—proximity is necessary to develop the new approaches that will improve healthcare access for all. The data from this study will assist product manufacturers and policy stakeholders to address the unique and specific contraceptive needs of young people.
Individual donations are critical to VillageReach’s work, providing the resources required to bring proven innovations to scale and sustainability – starting at the last mile. Tim Carver and Maia Suhr tell us a bit more about why they choose to support VillageReach:
We’re an interesting couple, Tim having grown up in Aberdeen, WA, and Maia having grown up in South Africa. We live in the Denny Blaine area of Seattle with two teenagers and a very energetic 10-year old. We enjoy traveling, being active and spending time in the outdoors.
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:
Depuis plus de 14 ans, nous allons prendre les vaccins au dépôt du Bureau central de la Zone de santé situé à 135 kilomètres d’ici par pirogue à ramer et le voyage dure 4 jours au moins.
Quand nous rentrons avec les intrants au niveau du centre de santé ici à Monzambi, on arrive très épuisés par le voyage qui exige beaucoup d’effort à fournir mais, malheureusement, on ne ramène en plus que des vaccins virés ou en voie de l’être à cause de l’interruption de la chaîne de froid puisque nous transportons ces intrants avec des boîtes isothermes dans lesquelles nous mettons les accumulateurs.
Cet appui de VillageReach nous permet de nous occuper aisément de nos malades, d’économiser nos énergies et d’améliorer nos stratégies de vaccination.
Une bonne chose nous est arrivée maintenant depuis le mois de juillet 2017: VillageReach appui régulièrement le transport des intrants de bonne qualité en bonne quantité et dans les bonnes conditions depuis l’antenne provinciale du Programme élargi de vaccination (PEV). Cet appui de VillageReach nous permet de nous occuper aisément de nos malades, d’économiser nos énergies et d’améliorer nos stratégies de vaccination.
Nous en sommes très reconnaissant et implorons à VillageReach de continuer à nous soutenir.