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Thoughts from the Last Mile Welcome to the VillageReach Blog

Category Archives: data for decision making

10.12 2017
In DRC, an interactive workshop was used to introduce modeling to Ministry of Health officials.

Through my work optimizing supply chains, I have truly come to realize the importance of looking at “the big picture.” If every detail matters in the effective operation of a supply chain, it is also critical to connect the dots and understand how functions interact. Getting health products to remote health centers is no straightforward endeavor—there are many complex steps and processes involved that can make it difficult to visualize the larger, connected system.

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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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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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11.28 2016

The annual Global Health Supply Chain Summit brings together supply chain professionals from all over the globe to discuss and share important trends in global health and the supply chains that support global health efforts. Last year, the big ideas from the event reinforced critical components of our work to improve health supply chains: public-private partnerships, system design, and data for management.

This year’s summit provided another great opportunity for VillageReach and our ministry partners to share our experiences, to learn from others, and to identify important trends shaping the global health supply chain community. The VillageReach team reflects on some of these trends below.

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11.10 2016

Reposted from OpenLMIS

The OpenLMIS Community is pleased to announce the beta release of OpenLMIS 3.0!

The initial offering to come out of the re-architecture effort for OpenLMIS, 3.0 Beta contains one slice of functionality, Requisitions, based on an all-new micro-service architecture. This release is the first to utilize the new architecture and is a strong step in the direction of “shared investment, shared benefit” that is the primary mission of the OpenLMIS Community. 3.0 Beta is a proof-of-concept for this architecture and is not a feature-complete release. It does not contain every feature that the eventual 3.0 OpenLMIS stable release will, and further features will be added to the system as we work toward the full 3.0 release scheduled for the end of February, 2017.

Please reference the Living Product Roadmap for the high-level estimated release schedule through version 3.3, and read the 3.0 Beta Release Notes for further details. Visit the OpenLMIS GitHub page to view the 3.0 Beta code repository.

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10.24 2016

In 1972, The UN General Assembly agreed to mark October 24 each year as World Development Information Day in order to draw the world’s attention to development problems and the need to strengthen international cooperation to solve them. The Assembly felt that improving the dissemination of information would lead to greater awareness of the problems of development, and thus, promote efforts in the sphere of international cooperation for development.

img_1017_benin_2014At VillageReach, the last mile of delivery is the first mile of information. Data is the pulse that drives our work – the fundamental core of our programming strategy. Without information, we are working in a state of assumptions and half-truths, and fervently hoping we are right. Want evidence of this principle? Of the four blog posts we published this month alone, three focus directly on information – what goes into collecting it, the insight it provides, and an example of how it all comes together!

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10.03 2016

untitled-design-2Simple ideas can be powerful – a point driven home during my recent trip to Uganda. While I was there, I had the opportunity to tour the Ugandan national medical stores, where medicines for the entire country are warehoused. The head of sales and marketing showed me how each and every commodity that the Government of Uganda procures is marked as a way to safeguard against theft. Every layer of packaging is embossed: “GOVERNMENT OF UGANDA. PUBLIC USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE.” Even individual tablets are marked “UG.” The government builds this requirement into its procurement contracts with suppliers. I walked away completely floored. What a simple yet brilliant idea to solve a persistent supply chain problem.

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09.15 2016

dscn3648Transformational change does not always happen overnight. In the case of immunization supply chains (iSC), real transformational change requires iteration. It is a process of continuous improvement: cycles of thinking, testing, and improving to constantly push the system forward. While the final result might be a complete redesign of the end-to-end supply chain, each step along the way is a necessary part of getting to a better model. Sometimes the wheels of change move quickly, when political will is aligned with resources and capacity. Sometimes the wheels move more slowly, during phases of learning and refining new ways of doing things. With any large-scale change, the key is to never stop moving forward.

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07.13 2016

If someone asked me “what’s a van?” in the US, I’d probably say a big-ish vehicle meant to efficiently move people and stuff from point A to point B. In Africa, these large people movers are called minibuses, kombis or any of a hundred other terms, except van. So when someone asks me about “VAN” in the African context, it means something very different. VAN is an acronym for “Visibility and Analytics Network.” In Nigeria, where VillageReach is working on the VAN project, it represents a new, more holistic approach to vaccine delivery and achieving a healthy, functioning supply chain. Though our VAN doesn’t have four wheels, it’s still purposefully designed to move things around more efficiently.

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03.24 2016

Over the past year and a half in Benin, VillageReach has supported the Agence de Médecine Préventive (AMP) in their work to pilot and scale Logivac, an informed push distribution system for immunization commodities.

Starting as a pilot in a single health zone in 2014, this system will be deployed in approximately one-third of the 34 health zones nationwide under the name Logivac+ by July, 2016. Working with AMP, VillageReach has helped deploy and adapt OpenLMIS, locally called the Systeme Informatisé d’Information Logistique (SIIL), collecting data and providing the information needed to improve the informed push system. Over the past weeks, VillageReach and AMP have been working to determine program needs and ensure that SIIL is up-to-date as Logivac+ moves to scale.

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