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Thoughts from the Last Mile Welcome to the VillageReach Blog

Category Archives: Supply Chain

01.19 2022

Originally posted on Dronelife.com.

The COVID-19 pandemic has overwhelmed health systems across the globe. In the shadows lies other diseases that can cause more emergencies, such as yellow fever. To face these threats, creative solutions are required to stop the next health crisis. This is exactly what the provincial health officials of Equateur province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), are doing by leveraging an ongoing drone delivery network established in 2020. It will support a mass yellow fever immunization campaign targeting over 90% of the population, one village at a time.

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10.06 2021

Originally posted at Forbes.com

What is normal anymore? I am constantly discussing what my own “return to normal” looks like with my friends, family and colleagues. And while this normal looks different for each of us, one thing is clear: The pandemic has fundamentally changed our values, requiring us to embrace the challenge and opportunity of redefining normal. The conversation facing the social sector is no different.

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06.21 2021

Originally posted on medium.com.

Last Mile Supply Chain (LMSC) is an innovative and efficient model for medicines and vaccines distribution, implemented by VillageReach in partnership with the Government of Mozambique and private sector companies in 2018. The Gaza and Inhambane provincial government introduced LMSC in November 2020 and January 2021, respectively, with Maputo province beginning operations in May 2021.

With the objective to improve the LMSC implementation process, three provinces gathered in Inhambane province with a unique opportunity to share experiences on how to respond to the changes resulting from the new distribution model.

Respected doctors, EPI leads and logisticians made up the delegation from the three provinces. Among many challenges, the participants shared during the discussions, integration of vaccines into routine medicines distribution dominated the sessions. They noted how it required flexibility from different sectors to align the distribution phases and work collectively to ensure people get the products they need.

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03.25 2021

A drone flies across remote communities in Malawi. | Photo Credit: Swoop Aero

 

Today, VillageReach and Focusing Philanthropy launched a campaign to raise $2 million. The Drones for Health Deliver campaign aims to increase equitable access to health products and diagnostics for 700,000 people in hard-to-reach areas in Malawi and Mozambique via drone technology.

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03.18 2021

Since COVID-19 started, most basic services were hugely affected. With the growing pressure over the health sector, governments and partners had to put in place innovative solutions to reduce disruptions of service delivery and minimize the suffering of people.

VillageReach has been working with the government of Mozambique to implement the Last Mile Supply Chain (LMSC) program since 2018, an efficient model for medicines and vaccines distribution, in partnership with private sector companies.

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03.16 2021

The Honorable Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda MP (second from right), Minister of Health, visits Chileka health center during a PPE donation ceremony.

 

Last year, Malawi received a much-needed shipment of PPE from China. PPE was an obscure acronym for many people prior to COVID-19. Today, these are products for which health workers are desperate. Miraculously, on March 25, 2020 Malawi received a shipment of PPE from the Chinese government. Surgical face masks, surgical gloves, infrared thermometers, medical goggles, boot covers and more were received to meet health workers’ most immediate needs in the country.

Global shortages, international transport challenges, customs clearance and other issues made getting PPE into Malawi a tremendous achievement. But getting PPE in country is only half the battle. A mask sitting in a warehouse is worse than having no mask at all.

As part of the USAID-funded Organized Network of Services for Everyone’s (ONSE) Health Activity, and under the Ministry of Health and Population’s (MoHP) guidance, VillageReach snapped into action. We had to overcome storage limitations, budget constraints and distribution hurdles — and swiftly.  Thanks to 12 years working at the last mile in Malawi, these are the moments we were made for.

We used relationships with government leaders country-wide and knowledge of supply chains at last mile to plan and orchestrate a 10-day distribution in three days.  Within hours we had a plan, within two days trucks were being loaded. My colleague and I traveled over 700 miles with about four hours of sleep over a 48-hour period. We would like to share three pieces of advice.  The first and perhaps most critical, is for anyone thinking of donating equipment in low-resource settings like Malawi.  

Pair your work on logistics with an in-country expert.  While these PPE donations are more than welcome, we urge you to understand the downstream impact. Unlike products procured through usual channels, donations are typically accompanied by little to no consideration for how the donated supplies will make it to end users. The assumption is that getting supplies into a country translates to a fully executed delivery – that is, delivery to the exact place they are needed for use. That’s far from true, especially in resource-constrained settings, where infrastructure and resources to distribute products may not be available.

Be prepared to act quickly. Immediate delivery was essential, both because health workers needed the equipment urgently, and because storage space is finite. Keeping the donated products in central storage, where they would be protected from theft, would have limited the government’s ability to receive and store new shipments it was expecting. To deliver efficiently, we came up with a delivery schedule in a very short amount of time based on a distribution plan the government provided. We prioritized delivering to areas with cases first, and we drove through the night to make sure those places had their PPE first thing the next morning.

Allow for flexibility. All of this required mobilizing people to actually pack and deliver the PPE. This required us to be flexible with people, budgets and time. Our VillageReach staff had to change their scopes of work to provide sufficient manpower to move supplies in a short lead time. Flexibility – both within organizations and from funders – to re-purpose or quickly hire sufficient staff is an important part of the ability to rapidly respond to situations like this one.

Malawi’s COVID-19 Response Team, of which VillageReach is a member, is essential for facilitating responses. The response team supports critical measures by the MoHP to lessen the devastating impact of the pandemic in Malawi. It is through this platform that stakeholders jointly reflect on emerging challenges and identify how their competence and assets can be used to address the challenges.

As the head of Pharmaceuticals in the Health Technical Support Services Directorate, Godfrey Kadewere, said the week of the delivery, “We need to get word out to the secretary and minister that we have supplies flowing to health facilities, this is an exciting development in the face of what looks like an insurmountable challenge.”

In districts like Blantyre, and in most of Malawi’s public hospitals, health personnel were putting on a brave face considering the risks posed by the virus. Distributing this PPE to 25 districts plus central hospitals was an incredible feat. But we’re not done yet – additional efforts are underway by Last Mile Health and others to make sure that we can quantify and procure PPE for the country’s CHWs as well. PPE can mean life or death to a health worker. Our job is making sure that this essential equipment brings life.

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01.20 2021

Originally posted on medium.com.

Community Health Workers (CHWs) are often the only link to primary health care services in under-reached communities around the world. This is the finale in a series (see part one here) that shows how strengthening supply chains supports CHWs, known as Community Health Assistants (CHAs) in Liberia, by making health products available, so they can deliver essential care to their communities.

Follow the journey to see how health products eventually end up in the hands of CHWs.

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01.13 2021

In Liberia, Community Health Workers (CHWs) are often the only link to primary health care services for the most under-reached communities. To support them, the Liberia Ministry of Health, Last Mile Health and VillageReach are working together to make sure they have access to essential medicines for their communities. This photo essay is the first half in a two-part series showing how supplies arrive to CHWs, or Community Health Assistants as they are known in Liberia, in three counties that benefit from the Supply Chain for Community Health Workers program.

Read on to see where the distribution process begins for Rivercess County and what happens when health supplies arrive at a local facility.

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Malawi healthcare worker