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Thoughts from the Last Mile Welcome to the VillageReach Blog

Tag Archives: ICT4D

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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11.02 2017
OpenLMIS was well-represented at the TechNet-21 Conference including this poster on the new vaccine-specific functionality.

OpenLMIS is a community dedicated to collective impact. We are always learning and listening for new ideas. We organize user-centered design workshops, talk with global leaders, and incorporate best-in-class technologies to meet the needs of global health supply chains. The most recent TechNet-21 Conference provided yet another opportunity to hear more from our partners in the immunization sector.

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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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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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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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11.15 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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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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10.13 2016

Communication is constant and ubiquitous – something we do with nary a thought throughout our lives. It’s so natural in fact that we tend to take it for granted. After all, when was the last time you engaged in a meta-conversation about the efficacy of a discussion you just finished? Alternatively, when did you last work on improving your lexis or grammar? If you’re like me, it’s been a while. Because our communication styles seem perfectly adequate for our daily personal lives, we tend to focus on more pressing concerns. For a technologist, that likely involves implementing some aspect of a project… and failing. Lack of communication is often the problem.

health-clinic-by-boat-1
A Clinic on the river in Benin

Software shops don’t tend to advertise it, but programming and IT are risky business. An IBM study found that nearly 60 percent of projects fail and that human, rather than technological, factors play a dominant role. Miscommunication is among the surest ways to kill a project. Sponsors may be misinformed about progress and withdraw support after subsequent disappointment. Business analysts may misunderstand users’ needs, developers may misinterpret analysts’ requirements, and because software development is often a collaborative endeavor, developers may even misunderstand one another. A lot can go wrong and — statistically — probably will. Our collective communication skills are simply not as good as we’re inclined to think.

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Malawi healthcare worker