Reliable delivery of medicines, vaccines, and health commodities at the last mile of the supply chain has been the focus of VillageReach since our inception. Earlier, we discussed the challenge of conveying our message and our work when the issues are complex, relatively unknown in the United States, and difficult to describe. We are happy to report, however, that awareness has been growing with help from articles like this one, found in the most recent winter issue of Global Health Magazine. Prashant Yadav, professor of Supply Chain Management at MIT-Zaragoza, outlines the many successes in Global Health but identifies critical gaps in health delivery.
“In my opinion, the weakest link in the chain now is the in-country distribution system. The costs of ignoring this key part of the health system can be extremely high. A key reason for the poor performance of the in-country supply distribution system is the lack of an institutional and governance framework on how to organize in-country distribution.”
With keen insight, Professor Yadav articulates the challenges VillageReach faces daily in creating sustainable systems for the delivery of basic, life saving supplies. In addition to this article, Global Health Magazine posted a blog just a few days ago challenging various health system misconceptions. The article challenges some widely held assumptions, many of which VillageReach has heard repeatedly over the years from potential donors and partners:
• Health systems can’t be measured.
• We don’t know what works to strengthen health systems.
• Strengthening health systems will be a money pit, an expensive, open-ended investment that won’t show measurable results.
Challenging these statements, the article cites the availability of measurable and proven methods within health systems, which can allow practitioners to make vital decisions. We were excited to see these acknowledgments, as a cornerstone of the methodology at VillageReach is the measurement and evaluation of our programs, and through our rigorous evaluation we have proven that health system strengthening programs can not only result in measurable impact but impact that tangibly saves lives. We hope that these publications represent a shift of perspective within the world of Global Health towards a new view that will see “last mile” health delivery systems as a critical piece of the larger picture.