Thoughts from the Last Mile Welcome to the VillageReach Blog

Category Archives: Technology

09.05 2018

Originally posted on Medium.

To transform health care delivery in far-reaching areas of Mozambique, it takes creativity, thinking outside of the box, resilience and strong commitment. It also requires a team approach and a lot of early buy-in. Engaging with a wide variety of stakeholders and being inclusive of a range of voices from the start is paramount to the work that we do at VillageReach, and particularly with a new and evolving technology like drones.

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07.03 2018

Originally posted on Medium. 

Imagine this: you have a cough. At first, it’s annoying, but you try to ignore it. It grows more persistent and you start worrying about getting your kids sick, so you decide to go see a health professional. Now imagine the nearest clinic is 10 kilometres away or more — and even though you’re coughing and tired, you have to walk or ride a bike to get there. You have taken time away from work and used precious financial resources to get to the clinic. Once you arrive, the health worker decides to test you for tuberculosis (TB), and says to return in 2–3 weeks for your results, as the health facility does not have a laboratory on-site.

The day of your follow-up arrives, and you again make the 10 kilometre trip back to the clinic. But there is only disappointing news: they couldn’t get the specimen to the laboratory fast enough, and therefore the test could not be conducted. They recommend that you travel even further to a different facility and repeat the test. Meanwhile, your family has also started coughing. Feel frustrated? Or hopeless? This is a reality that VillageReach along with DFID Mozambique, Ministry of Health, and other partners are trying to change in rural Mozambique.

And we are doing it using drones.

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06.19 2018
Benat Kalebe is a pharmacy technician at Ntchisi District Hospital, Malawi.

On any given day, you may find Benat Kalebe organizing his storeroom or dispensing medicines at the Ntchisi District Hospital. He may be working in the hospital’s different wards, providing support for the nurses and doctors while keeping a close eye on the stock levels of the medicines they use. But Benat is more than the hospital’s pharmacy technician. He is a conduit for life-saving medicines for 16 health facilities throughout Ntchisi District in Malawi.

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04.18 2018

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.

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11.30 2017
Vaccines are stored in refrigerators and other cold chain equipment in order to maintain proper temperature. Photo Credit: Paul Joseph Brown

Vaccines are extremely sensitive to temperature. They must remain between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius in order to remain viable. Outside of this temperature range, vaccines become less effective at preventing diseases. Because of this, the storage and handling of vaccines need careful attention. The equipment and devices used to ensure vaccines stay in the right temperature range are known as the “cold chain.” When vaccines are transported, stored in a refrigerator, or used in an immunization session, the cold chain keeps the temperature right. Significant investments have been made in updating cold chain equipment in many countries, but overall performance remains a significant concern.

With our new partner Bull City Learning, VillageReach is strengthening the vaccine cold chain in Malawi. Using human-centered design principles, we are creating an easy-to-use, interactive, digital manual on refrigerator maintenance and repair. By providing this tool for cold chain technicians, we hope to improve routine maintenance of essential equipment used to keep vaccines at the right temperatures.

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10.26 2017
Melissa West and Sid Rupani from LLamasoft sharing the use of system design and modeling for supply chain improvement at the TechNet Conference.

Donors and NGOs around the world are investing in technologies that promise to make vaccines available to children everywhere. Many of these innovations took center stage at last week’s TechNet Conference, reflecting the enthusiasm to try something new. But maybe what we need is not necessarily something new – just something different.

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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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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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12.01 2016

HIV has a profound impact on communities around the world and the health systems that serve them. Many remote, underserved communities feel the heavy burden of the HIV epidemic and can face substantial challenges in accessing health services. New approaches, systems and technologies have the potential to strengthen these systems and provide greater access to quality healthcare in these last mile communities.

As a global health innovator, VillageReach is dedicated to identifying, testing and scaling these potential solutions, which can be leveraged to support the global fight against HIV. World AIDS Day gives us a moment to reflect on our work with partners and governments that contributes to the reduction of HIV, particularly at the last mile.

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11.15 2016

OpenLMIS, SELV, iSC. To most people these acronyms don’t mean much. To me, they tell a story of getting vaccines to the most remote communities in Mozambique. Sistema Electronico de Logstica de Vacinas (SELV) is the local name of a software used to record information about where vaccines need to go and how they are going to get there – an implementation of OpenLMIS, a logistics management information system (LMIS). As the Information Systems Officer at VillageReach, it’s my job to provide technical assistance and support for this critical software.  The BETA version of  OpenLMIS 3.0 was launched last week, representing a major milestone in the evolution of software that continues to demonstrate the import and impact of robust information systems at the last mile.

photo-3Over the last few weeks, my colleagues and I traveled to five provinces around Mozambique to talk about SELV. In some provinces like Cabo Delgado, SELV is an established tool. In others like Maputo City, SELV is brand new. VillageReach and the Ministry of Health are just beginning to expand the reach of SELV to all eleven provinces, so this trip provided me an opportunity to meet stakeholders, introduce myself as a resource, and find out how we can better support SELV within the immunization supply chain.

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Malawi healthcare worker