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Thoughts from the Last Mile Welcome to the VillageReach Blog
08.30 2017
The first distribution of the Next Generation Supply Chain Initiative at the Konongo Health Center in DRC.

I am proud to announce that last month a team composed of provincial government and VillageReach staff successfully conducted the first direct distribution of vaccines and family planning commodities in the Equateur Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Under the Next Generation Supply Chain Initiative, this constitutes a major milestone worth celebrating. It represents more than a year of planning and advocacy to engage government leaders and partners (UNICEF, ECC CORDAID, SANRU, OMS, and Croix Rouge) to take bold steps toward change to ensure more reliable delivery of vaccines and other essential health commodities to “the last mile”, often the most remote and hard-to-reach communities in DRC.

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08.14 2017

Reposted from Rails Girls Summer of Code.

Who, us?

Hola! We are Protichi Basak and Nikita Gupta, fresh Computer Science graduates from IIIT-Delhi, India. And if you were to believe our batchmates, we were amongst the nerdiest girls there (something which gives us more pride than embarrassment for some reason). 😛 Although we have known each other for four years, our friendship feels like decades old already. It brings a smile to our faces every time we remember our first day, where every student was asked to introduce themselves to the entire batch, but Nikita used that opportunity to find her roommate Protichiinstead, for she found the name so unique! Being roommates from the very first day of college we have been partners in all craziness ever since. Yet we are poles apart. While Protichi is a trilingual, hardcore fish-lover hailing from the lands of Bengal, Nikita is a strict vegetarian from North India mad about Rajasthani folk and food!

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08.04 2017
CCPF hotline workers settling into the new call center in Lilongwe

This week, Chipatala cha pa Foni (CCPF) or “Health Center by Phone” moved its operations from Balaka, a rural community in southern Malawi, to its new facility in the capital city of Lilongwe. As we packed up the phones, headsets, and files, I was struck by how symbolic the moment was. This move is more than a change of location. It represents the progress of CCPF many years in the making: from a maternal and child health service in one district to a comprehensive health hotline accessible to more than 5 million people across the country. From this new facility, CCPF will have the proper infrastructure and operational capacity to become Malawi’s first government-run national health hotline, a goal we are on track to reach by December of this year. At that stage, the service will be accessible to over 17 million Malawians. Having supervised this program for one and a half years, I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to work with the Government of Malawi Ministry of Health, our dedicated CCPF teams, and all of the donors and partners who have made this day possible.

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07.22 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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06.09 2017

Mrs. Graça Machel, an international leader and advocate who has transformed the lives of women and girls throughout the world, mesmerized global health leaders, members of the Seattle business and philanthropic community, and VillageReach staff and board last night at Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry.

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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 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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