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Thoughts from the Last Mile Welcome to the VillageReach Blog
05.22 2017

I am pleased to announce that the Malawi Ministry of Health has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to scale the mobile health hotline Chipatala Cha Pa Foni (CCPF), or “Health Center by Phone,” nationally. When complete, CCPF will be the first, government-run national mobile health hotline in Africa. This MOU solidifies the Ministry’s commitment to fully adopt and integrate CCPF into the established health system. As with any innovation, and particularly within the digital health landscape, getting to this stage of scale is a major achievement.

“When complete, CCPF will be the first, government-run national mobile health hotline in Africa.”

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04.28 2017

World Immunization Week is a perfect time to reflect on global priorities and our commitment to the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP). This framework guides the work of organizations around the world to reach every child with life-saving vaccines. It is also a way to measure our collective success. Accurately measuring our progress against GVAP targets is central to moving the needle globally, but we need to be confident in the data.

I recently heard a ministry official summarize the challenges to increasing immunization in an area suspected to have a high number of unimmunized children. This was very different from the story told by the numbers. The administrative coverage rates (based on census numbers and the reported number of administered vaccine doses) for the region were well over 100%. Surveys designed to provide a baseline comparison in the same area reported lower numbers, but the data still showed surprisingly high coverage – above 80%. People at this meeting quickly said they were ‘tired’ of hearing about coverage rates because of the well-known data quality issues. This frustration with data quality has echoed at nearly every immunization stakeholder meeting I’ve attended. Clearly inaccurate data is less meaningful – and less useful. It could be worse than no data at all.

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03.01 2017

Reposted from OpenLMIS

Kaleb Brownlow QuoteThe release of OpenLMIS version 3 is truly something to celebrate – it is the result of an extraordinary collaboration of organizations and individuals around the world.

Teams from multiple countries contributed technical requirements, defined business processes, and wrote countless hours of code for the latest iteration of OpenLMIS, a powerful, enterprise class logistics management information system (LMIS).

The OpenLMIS Initiative’s mission is to make a high quality, powerful LMIS software available in low-resource environments – providing high-quality logistics management to improve health commodity distribution in low- and middle-income countries. OpenLMIS increases data visibility, helping supply chain managers identify and respond to commodity needs, particularly at health facilities where lack of data significantly impacts the availability of key medicines and vaccines.

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02.27 2017

In 2006, a trip to Ghana changed the trajectory of my life. While studying for a nursing degree, I spent a summer working as a nursing assistant in a small village. I had been on service trips before, but this time was different. I was humbled by the generosity of those who seemed to have so little, and I found the smile on the children’s faces infectious. I also saw firsthand the enormous drive these communities have to create change. Here, I quickly found my second home.

That same year, I founded MED25 International. Now more than ten years later, MED25 is joining forces with VillageReach to expand the MED25 Model to new communities.

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02.17 2017

At the 2017 African Union Summit, Heads of State endorsed the Addis Declaration on Immunization, which demonstrates convincing political support to improve equitable access to vaccines.  Now countries must embrace the hard work required to deliver immunizations and other health commodities to all citizens. Only when governments lead with a strong vision, supported by donors and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in a collaborative effort, will large-scale impact be achievable. In places like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), new approaches are bringing the government together with these groups – and seeing greater collaboration between donors in support of government efforts.

Motorbike on a canoe.
Transport in remote parts of DRC include boats and motorbikes.

Leaders in the DRC have committed to overhauling the country’s dozens of supply chains, developing a highly-functioning, efficient system capable of reaching even the most remote populations. The terrain and sheer size of the DRC make this uniquely challenging. Health officials recognize that traditional supply chain models are not sufficient, and are actively seeking new approaches. But they cannot do it alone. VillageReach is one of many organizations supporting the government’s quest to develop, test, implement and scale strategies that can improve this essential mechanism for providing healthcare.

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02.10 2017
Dr. Chan and me on the University of Washington Campus

One of the highlights of University of Washington’s symposium celebrating ten years in global health was seeing the Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Margaret Chan. Dr. Chan was charming as ever, with a spring in her step and a smile on her face. Perhaps it is because she is nearing the end of her term (her successor will be chosen during the upcoming World Health Assembly) that despite moments of levity, her words had a more sobering ring.

Dr. Chan painted a complex picture of the world in which global health professionals work.  We are confronting new diseases and old diseases, dealing with post-antibiotics and post-truth. She warned the attendees that some believe a long-standing social contract has been broken and “we are now living in a world that has lost its moral compass”. Before we could wallow in our collective struggle, Dr. Chan laid out four priorities to help guide health policies and programs.  Here’s what they mean for our work at VillageReach.

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02.03 2017

Version française

As someone who has dedicated his life to public health, I am thrilled to see Africa’s leaders making a bold commitment in support of immunization. The African Union endorsement of the  Addis Declaration on Immunization (ADI) demonstrates that vaccines, and the proper health systems to deliver them, play a significant role in the future of our continent.

Measles and many other diseases preventable by vaccination have a devastating potential. Even a few years ago, rural communities had a saying: to know how many children you have in your household, wait for the measles. Measles epidemics have decimated children in times past. This was the case of the Mankanza territory in the province of Equateur, located 220km from the provincial capital, Mbandaka, and accessible only by water. Many, many children were buried because the measles vaccine had not yet come to their communities until 1996. The few survivors can still recall the impact of these measles epidemics. Even with sub-optimal immunization coverage, once the vaccine came, no epidemics occurred.

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02.03 2017

English Version

Comme quelqu’un qui a consacré sa vie à la santé publique, je suis ravie que les dirigeants Africains se soient engagé ardemment à soutenir la vaccination. L’adhésion de l’Union Africaine à la Déclaration d’Addis-Abeba sur la vaccination démontre que les systèmes de santé adéquats pour la livraison des vaccins jouent un rôle important dans l’avenir de notre continent.

Les maladies évitables par la vaccination—tel que la rougeole—ont des conséquences catastrophiques. Il y a quelques années, les habitants de plusieurs communautés rurales en RDC disaient :« il faut attendre le passage de l’épidémie de rougeole pour savoir combien d’enfants tu as dans ton ménage ». Dans le passé, ces épidémies étaient responsables de la mort de nombreux enfants. Cela a été le cas du territoire de Mankanza dans la Province d’Equateur en RDC. Mankanza se situe à 220 km de Mbandaka (chef-lieu de la province) et est une zone totalement riveraine. Le vaccin contre la rougeole a été mis à disposition vers les année 1996. Dans les années précédentes, cette maladie aujourd’hui évitable a emporté des milliers d’enfants simplement parce qu’ils n’étaient pas vaccinés. Malgré la faible couverture vaccinale, à partir de l’introduction du vaccin contre la rougeole, aucune épidémie n’est survenue dans cette contrée, et les rares survivants peuvent encore témoigner à l’impact mortel de cette maladie dévastatrice.

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02.01 2017

Versão português

With the endorsement of the Addis Declaration on Immunisation, African leaders demonstrated their commitment to life-saving immunizations.  The Declaration names a number of components – ten, in fact – crucial to realizing the full benefits of immunization.  But there are many more pieces in the day-to-day work of getting vaccines to children.  These are the pieces I think about as I do my part in reaching global vaccine goals.

Depending on the day, I’m thinking about things like this:

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01.31 2017

English Version

Com a aprovação da Declaração de Adis Abeba sobre a Imunização, os líderes africanos manifestaram o seu compromisso para com as imunizações que salvam vidas. A Declaração indica várias componentes – de fato dez – que são decisivas para realizarem-se os plenos benefícios da imunização. Mas existem muitos mais elementos no trabalho quotidiano de fazer chegar as vacinas às crianças. Estes são os pedaços nos quais penso enquanto dou a minha contribuição para alcançar as metas para as vacinas a nível mundial.

Dependendo do dia, estou a pensar em coisas tais como as seguintes:

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