Thoughts from the Last Mile Welcome to the VillageReach Blog

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01.10 2017

With the New Year upon us, I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on some of the most important milestones that you, our partners and donors, have helped us to achieve this past year. With your support, we are reaching more people, proving the potential of emerging innovation, and working with new partners to increase access to quality healthcare at the last mile.

Reaching More


_x8a8078Chipatala Cha Pa Foni (CCPF, or “Health Center by Phone”) expanded
 to three additional districts in Malawi, reaching an additional 400,000 people, and ensuring that mothers like Patuma have access to health information, advice and care, no matter where they live. Airtel remains central to this growth as we work with the Ministry of Health towards national scale-up. New ventures like CCPF for Adolescents and collaboration with Johnson & Johnson are helping to enhance the quality of the service and expand its
potential to reach and serve more.

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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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11.15 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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10.28 2016

It was a bit of serendipity when the young woman’s phone started buzzing. Normally at a conference, a phone call or a text message would be an embarrassing disruption, but not this time. This interruption came as twenty young women gathered to share their personal stories. Some had children, some were sex workers, others had dropped out of school. These women were representatives of the many young women around Zomba and Machinga Districts in Malawi who face challenges in accessing quality reproductive health services, providing real faces to the broader issue at hand.

20161013_121020
The twenty young women received certificates at the end of the workshop.

This text message was received at the DREAMS Innovation Challenge Ambassador Workshop in Blantyre, Malawi – where I represented VillageReach as one of the 56 winners chosen to find new, innovative ways to reduce the impact of HIV on women and girls. This workshop brought together Innovation Challenge winners from around Malawi, as well as this group of young women. We were all there to learn and share, creating new connections while underscoring the importance and urgency of this work.

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09.02 2016

Emmanuelle Assy 2016The goal for global health innovation is to identify successful approaches and move them to scale – reaching as many underserved communities as possible with improved access to quality healthcare. Sometimes this is accomplished with new partners or transitioning greater ownership to country governments – but sometimes successful scaling is about sharing what we’ve learned.

Emmanuelle Assy’s job is just that. As VillageReach’s Immunization Supply Chain Improvement Manager, Emmanuelle works with stakeholders, partners, and governments around sub-Saharan Africa to introduce and explore new tools and approaches that challenge the status quo of existing supply chains. For example, she leads computer simulation modeling exercises, which help countries understand different options for making an immunization supply chain more efficient and cost effective. By reducing the risk to bold new ideas, these modeling exercises help government stakeholders think more broadly about their supply chain system and the importance of system design.

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03.28 2016

Could UAVs Reduce Waiting Time for Pediatric HIV Test Results?

UAV in Malawi
Photo: UNICEF – Children observe the UAV launch in Malawi

I have experienced quite a few “firsts” since joining VillageReach, but by far one of the most exciting is the experience participating in the first tests of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) (commonly known as drones) for HIV sample transport* in Malawi. VillageReach is currently working with UNICEF and Matternet, a leading UAV company, to test and assess the feasibility of UAVs, with critical implications for the treatment of HIV in children.

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02.22 2016

I was thrilled to witness President Nyusi launch the rotavirus vaccine in Mozambique last fall. Tens of thousands of little Mozambicans will be spared severe dehydration, even death, due to rotavirus-induced diarrhea – if the vaccine reaches them. And herein lies the problem.  When a vaccine sits in a national or district warehouse, a truck, or a broken “fridge,” it cannot save lives. 

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12.22 2015

In response to this article by Dr. Mahad Ibrahim on the role of data during the Ebola outbreak, some interesting questions were sparked among our team. The piece evoked a lot of great insights about the opportunities and challenges the piece addresses, as well as how we see those topics evidenced in our VillageReach work. This topic is of particular interest to us, as we and our partners at the University of Washington are actively developing and testing an open-source tool for paper to digital data conversion, ODK Scan.

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12.15 2015

Like you, VillageReach is dedicated to positive change.  Given VillageReach’s long-term focus on strengthening the last mile of healthcare delivery and its strong track record of improving health outcomes for the most underserved communities, the organization has grown rapidly in response to increasing demand for our expertise from ministries of health, global health institutions, donors and partners.

As the organization expands, its internal roles and responsibilities must change with it.  At this critical juncture the VillageReach Board and I have decided to add more capacity to the leadership of VillageReach through the hire of a new President.   As a highly-engaged board member,  I will continue to advance the mission of VillageReach as a senior advisor.  The new President will join me and others on the VillageReach leadership team to work on these areas, as well as, to ensure VillageReach delivers beyond-expectation results.  We don’t view this change as replacing an existing person with a new one, but adding leadership capacity and depth to a rapidly growing organization.

Allen D. Wilcox

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12.01 2015

2015 has been a watershed year for VillageReach.  It represents the culmination of work over many years, and proves that our model for system innovation is working:  governments and institutional partners are changing approaches to last mile healthcare delivery based on VillageReach-generated working models in the field, evidence, and advocacy:

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