Thoughts from the Last Mile Welcome to the VillageReach Blog

Tag Archives: UAV

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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01.09 2018

At VillageReach, we often use numbers and data to understand how our work increases access to quality health care. Since our founding in 2000, our programs have reached more than 20 million people in sub-Saharan Africa – and that number continues to grow. But as we look at the progress we made in 2017, numbers only tell part of the story. The success of VillageReach is also reflected by our collaboration with partners, our dedicated staff and the generosity of our supporters. Their voices tell us why 2017 has been such a remarkable year:

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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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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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11.28 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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08.12 2016

IMG_0552Having been in my new role as President of VillageReach only a few weeks, each day is filled with new “firsts.”  First staff meeting, first attempt to work the phone system (failed), first presentation (so-so). Among them was my first—but certainly not last—Final Mile Logistics Working Group Happy Hour hosted by Lynden International. At VillageReach, we focus on increasing access to quality healthcare for those living in the most difficult-to-reach and underserved communities where basic, routine health care delivery is a huge challenge.  For us, supply chain and logistics are essential elements of addressing that challenge, so it was great to meet and talk with representatives and leading thinkers from Puget Sound-area companies and our WGHA colleagues who share our interest, have a passion for new ideas, and apply them on a global scale.  Who better to help us think through the challenges and opportunities of last mile delivery?

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08.09 2016

As a global health innovator, VillageReach invests great time and effort in exploring how new technologies can be applied to address existing heath systems challenges. Often, this means considering how health system improvements can be leveraged to solve more than one problem at a time. Take, for instance, the emerging Zika virus threat: while VillageReach does not coordinate emergency disease response, our work improving routine transport of medical commodities could be used to strengthen emergency efforts. Similarly, emerging and innovative technologies, such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, commonly referred to as drones) could add to this comprehensive approach to healthcare improvement.

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07.27 2016

IMG_0721Often when we talk about methods of delivery in low-resource environments, we are referring to simple solutions. Health commodities arrive at rural clinics on trucks, by bicycle or motorbike, by foot, and sometimes even by boat or canoe. These traditional delivery methods are often faced with simple, but insurmountable barriers. Roads are washed out or are in poor repair. Vehicles are not properly maintained or require expensive fuels. Routes pass through potentially dangerous areas with threatening wildlife. Trying to find new, innovative solutions for these problems has lead VillageReach to UAVs – unmanned aerial vehicles. Last week, I presented at the first meeting of the Final Mile Logistics Working Group, providing an overview of UAVs and the potential they have for filling the delivery gap in global development.

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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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