Last week as we prepared for a panel on transitioning health solutions to government, Skoll Principal Liz Diebold introduced me to the word game Mad Libs. While I’d never filled in the blanks for fun as a kid, the idea immediately made sense. Whenever something gets overly complex—as our work in health systems often does—boiling something down to its essence can help get the point across.
Liz and I, along with our moderator Nosa Orobaton, Deputy Director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Mike Kollins, Director of Programs from Splash, tried to come up with a pithy way to introduce ourselves for a session, Best Practices in Transitioning Solutions to Government. I agreed that the sentence: Scale mattersbecause_____________ was a great way to get us started.
VillageReach has partnered with stakeholders at local, regional and global levels since 2015 to explore the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for health. UAS, also referred to as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, are being evaluated for integration into health systems alongside traditional land- and water-based modes of transportation. Drones have the potential to improve the availability of health products, increase equity of access and save time and money compared to ground transportation particularly in geographically challenging areas.
Chipatala cha pa Foni (Health Center by Phone) – A Health Center in Every Malawian’s Home
Chipatala cha pa Foni (CCPF) or Health Center by Phone, transforms the way Malawians access health and nutrition information by offering a health center in every Malawian’s home through the use of an Airtel mobile phone. It is now a national program operated by the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) of Malawi. VillageReach was a primary partner to the MoHP in the design, build and roll-out of the program and its services across Malawi.
“A Health Center in Every Malawian’s Home” tells the story of Taurai, a young woman and CCPF youth champion, and Gloria, who is a mother and volunteer. Both of them have had their own positive and unique experiences with CCPF and are now committed to promoting the national hotline in their communities. The video also includes MoHP’s perspective on CCPF as told by Dr. Nedson Fosiko, Deputy Director of Clinical Services.
Gloria Chingayipe is a mother who lives in Kwitanda, Malawi. Chipatala cha pa Foni, Health Center by Phone, helped her by providing referral information when she called to ask about pains she was experiencing in her abdomen during her pregnancy. She was so grateful for the help she received that she has become a volunteer advocate for CCPF. Gloria now spends part of her time visiting women in the community to promote the health and nutrition hotline to encourage families to take advantage of the resource.
CCPF is now a national program operated by the Malawi Ministry of Health and is another way that the government is providing Universal Health Coverage to its people.
Taurai Kamfosi is a young woman who lives in Zomba, Malawi. Chipatala cha pa Foni (CCPF), Health Center by Phone, is a service that she was introduced to through a CCPF youth advocacy program. She is now a champion for CCPF by using her “golden voice” to write songs and educate adolescents about the service. It is an important resource for young adolescents, so they can make informed decisions about sexual and reproductive health while also benefiting from the privacy of the service.
NextWing (flynextwing.com) conducted test flights at Malawi’s Kasungu drone testing corridor in March 2019
Drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are an emerging technology that hold a lot of promise to improve access to health care for the most underserved populations in hard-to-reach areas. Additionally, it can provide time savings in critical situations in busy urban areas with heavy traffic congestion. Despite becoming commonplace in recreational settings, and being utilized in various sectors, drones are still a nascent technology when it comes to transporting medical products. With every flight test, VillageReach continues to uncover new insights that prove invaluable to pave the way towards drone introduction and integration into health systems. VillageReach is aware of the complexity and technical expertise required to test drones and the findings gleaned from similar projects in other countries are critical to ensure readiness in deploying the technology as a viable supply chain solution.
Many youth in Malawi are told that contraceptives are only for married adults. Yet so many of Malawi’s young people have expressed an unmet need. There are also unique experiences, preferences and challenges that adolescent girls and boys face in understanding, accessing and using contraceptives in Malawi. VillageReach worked with young researchers to tap into real insights that advance the development of sexual and reproductive health services and products tailored specifically for young people.
VillageReach has worked in Malawi since 2008, partnering with the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), the private sector and other partners to develop and implement high impact solutions. Current programs include Chipatala cha pa Foni (CCPF), the Pharmacy Assistant Training Program, OpenLMIS, and Drones for Health.
“A reason, a season or a lifetime” is a saying that I can appreciate, and with the transition of the Kwitanda Community Health Project (KCHP) to Maikhanda Trust it was a season for VillageReach. In 2008, VillageReach began its journey, alongside the JBJ Foundation, to support the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) to achieve better results for maternal and child health in the Kwitanda community of Balaka district in Malawi.