Sep 25, 2012  |  Press Release

VillageReach, the Barr Foundation and the University of Washington Collaborate on New Three-year Program to Improve Supply Chain for Essential Medicines

NEW YORK, USA, September 25, 2012 – VillageReach, the Seattle-­‐based social enterprise that increases access to quality healthcare for underserved communities, and the Barr Foundation, a private foundation based in Boston, today announced the launch of a new program in Malawi to increase healthcare access through improvements in the public health supply chain. The announcement was made in conjunction with the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting in New York City.

The program is launched as a  partnership between  VillageReach,  the  Barr  Foundation,  the  Malawi  Ministry of Health, the Malawi College of Health Sciences, and the University of Washington Global Medicines  Program.  The  Barr  Foundation will provide approximately  75%  of the financial support for the $2 million initiative. VillageReach is seeking additional funders to join the project.

Currently, billions of dollars of donor-­‐funded health commodities, vital to the treatment of high-­‐burden diseases, flow to low-­‐ and middle-­‐income countries (LMICs). These life-­‐saving commodities often do not reach those most in need due to poor management of medicines, inadequate distribution systems, and a lack of information about demand at the lower levels of the health system.

Malawi reflects many of these challenges. The country faces a growing burden of disease, largely driven by a high prevalence of communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Over 60,000 children die annually. The vast majority of these deaths are due to preventable or treatable causes such as malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhea. Rural health centers in Malawi face limitations in their ability to support local  communities.    Many  centers suffer  from frequent  shortages of  medicines  and  other  supplies, largely attributable to poor supply chain performance. Malawi also faces significant shortages in health personnel,  particularly for  pharmaceutical  staff:    an  estimated  75%  of  pharmacy  technician  positions in the country are currently vacant, leaving health workers to manage pharmacies and logistics duties.

The three-­‐year Malawi program has been designed to improve health system capacity through increasing the human resources needed to improve supply chain performance and medicines management in rural communities. The program will build systems needed to support improved medicines management by addressing three key elements: training and deploying pharmacy staff; increasing supply chain capacity; and improving data management and reporting of logistics data. During the course of the program, 150 pharmacy  assistants  will  be  trained  and  deployed  in  rural  health  facilities  serving  a  population  of  approximately 4.5 million. This represents the start of reaching the Ministry of Health goal of training 650 Pharmacy Assistants to support primary health care in Malawi.

“We have 640 health centers in the country with no trained pharmacy staff to handle issues of drugs and medical  supplies  management,  which  has  consequences  for  community  health  and  wellbeing,”  said  Mr.  Godfrey Kadewele, Deputy Director, Pharmaceutical Services at the Ministry of Health. “Improving the supply  and  management  of  medicines  at  the  health  center  level  through  the  training  and  deploying  of  Pharmacy Assistants is part of our Health Sector Strategic Plan. I cannot overemphasize the need for this program, and the Ministry of Health is thrilled to see additional investment in this area.”

In  remote  communities  in  sub-­‐Saharan  Africa,  thousands  of  children  die  every  year  from  common,  treatable illnesses. “One of the biggest culprits,” says Heiner Baumann, Barr Foundation Director of Global Programs is the lack of a proper supply chain to ensure medicines are available when and where they  are  needed  most.  Through  this  initiative,  rural  Malawi  will  have  a  growing  cadre  of  well-­‐trained  pharmacy assistants with the will, skill, and mandate to order, stock, and dispense critical medicines. Barr is pleased to support this work and expects it will significantly improve health outcomes in rural Malawi.”

“Our  work  has  demonstrated  that  improvements  in  supply  chain  and  the  strategic  deployment  of  specialized health personnel can provide significant improvements in health system capacity,” said Emily Bancroft,  Program  Director,  Health  Systems  at  VillageReach.    “We  expect  the  Malawi  Pharmacy  and  Supply Chain Strengthening Program to provide further evidence of the value of this approach in order to save  lives.  We  are  pleased  to  be  supporting  the  Ministry  of  Health  and  the  Malawi  College  of  Health  Sciences on this critical initiative.”

”Increasing  the  number  of  trained  personnel  in  medicines  management  is  critical  to  strengthening  pharmaceutical systems and improving health outcomes. We look forward to providing technical assistance  and  training  to  support  the  Malawi  Pharmacy  &  Supply  Chain  Strengthening  Program,”  said  Professor Andy Stergachis, Director of the University of Washington Global Medicines Program.

About Barr Foundation: The Barr Foundation is guided by a vision of a vibrant, just, and sustainable world with hopeful futures for children. Its mission is to support gifted leaders and networked organizations working in Boston and beyond to enhance educational and economic opportunities, to achieve environmental sustainability, and to create rich cultural experiences. The Foundation’s US-­‐based work focuses on providing quality education, mitigating climate change, and enhancing cultural vitality in Massachusetts. Since 2010, Barr has launched a global program to improve the lives of children and families in developing countries. The Barr Global team is building a portfolio of projects  that  delivers  measurable  improvements  in  the  interconnected  areas  of  livelihoods,  health,  environment and education, predominantly in rural areas. Investments are currently focused in sub-­‐Saharan Africa, Haiti, and India. For more information about the Barr Foundation, visit www.barrfoundation.org.


About VillageReach
VillageReach transforms health care delivery to reach everyone, so that each person has the health care needed to thrive. We develop solutions that improve equity and access to primary health care. This includes making sure products are available when and where they are needed and primary health care services are delivered to the most under-reached. Radical collaboration with governments, the private sector and other partners strengthen our ability to scale and sustain these solutions. Our work increases access to quality health care for 46 million people in sub-Saharan Africa.

For press inquiries: media@villagereach.org

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