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Search our comprehensive archive for detailed documentation of our work including  evaluations, studies, journal articles, publications and more.


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Evaluations and Reports

CCPF Impact Evaluation

CCPF Impact Evaluation

The Malawi Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) and VillageReach developed Chipatala cha pa Foni (CCPF) – “Health Center by Phone” – as a community-based hotline in the Balaka district of Malawi. This summary shares the findings of a 2018 impact evaluation of the program.

Evaluation of the Information and Communications Technology for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Project

December 1, 2013

This report presents the results of an evaluation by Invest in Knowledge Initiative (IKI) of the Information and Communications Technology for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (ICT for MNCH) Pilot Project, which is a project of the Concern Worldwide’s Innovations of Maternal, Newborn & Child Health Project initiative.

Narrative Report for IWG mHealth Catalytic Grant Mechanism: VillageReach

February 18, 2015
Narrative Report for IWG mHealth Catalytic Grant Mechanism: VillageReach

A narrative report to the mHealth Alliance IWG covering the two year project to scale-up CCPF detailing the progress of the mhealth program from a small pilot project in 4 health center catchment areas in Balaka District to a service operating in four districts with plans to scale to an additional 3 districts in 2015.

Evaluation of the Information and Communications Technology for Maternal Newborn and Child Health Project

February 1, 2014
VillageReach

This executive summary presents the results of a mixed-methods evaluation on the effectiveness of a two-year mHealth pilot implemented by VillageReach as part of Concern Worldwide’s Innovations in Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. The summary is based on the full evaluation report created by Invest in Knowledge (IKI).

Fact Sheets

OpenLMIS

OpenLMIS

An overview of OpenLMIS, its benefits and features.

Journal Articles

Scaling up a health and nutrition hotline in Malawi: the benefits of multisectoral collaboration

British Medical Journal

Carla Blauvelt and colleagues describe a multisectoral collaboration that enabled the scale up of a health advice telephone service and its transition to government in Malawi.

Strengthening the home-to-facility continuum of newborn and child health care through mHealth: Evidence from an intervention in rural Malawi

June 10, 2015
African Population Studies Special Edition 2015

This paper assesses the impact of a mobile health (mHealth) project on uptake of home-based care for newborn and child health, and investigates the extent to which uptake of home-based care resulted into lessened pressure on health facilities for conditions that can be handled at the household level. It uses mixed methods consisting of cross-sectional household surveys data from a quasi-experimental pre-test post-test design as well as qualitative data. The results show a large, positive effect of the project on the aggregate home-based care for child health, and a sharp, negative impact on facility-based care seeking for fever among children whose mothers/caretakers used the services offered by the intervention. Reasons for using the services mainly relate to the potential of avoiding unnecessary trips to the health facility for care that could be provided at home. The project provides insights on mHealth and community-based programming to improve newborn and child health care delivery

Fostering the use of quasi-experimental designs for evaluating public health interventions: insights from an mHealth project in Malawi

June 10, 2015
African Population Studies Special Edition 2015

The evidence base to support the growing field of mHealth is relatively nascent, with most studies lacking the level of rigor needed to inform scale up of interventions. This paper investigates the impact of a maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) mHealth project in Malawi, comparing the intention-to-treat (ITT) and the treatment on the treated (TOT) estimates, and discussing the implications for future evaluations. Services offered included a toll-free case management hotline and mobile messaging service for women and children. The evaluation methods included a quasi-experimental pre-test post-test design, consisting of cross-sectional household surveys. A total of 4,230 women were interviewed in the intervention area and 2,463 in the control site. While the intervention did not have any ITT effects of the MNCH outcomes studied, there were large TOT effects. Rigorous evaluation designs can be successfully applied to mHealth pilot projects, helping to understand what works and what does not.

Improving care-seeking for facility-based health services in a rural, resource-limited setting

June 1, 2015
African Population Studies Special Edition 2015

The aim of this paper was to investigate the impact of a toll-free hotline and mobile messaging service on care-seeking behaviors. Due to the low uptake of the services, the treatment on the treated estimate is used. For maternal health, the intervention had a strong, positive impact on antenatal care initiation and skilled birth attendance. No effect was observed for postnatal check-ups, receiving the recommended four antenatal care visits and vitamin A uptake. A negative effect was observed on tetanus toxoid coverage. For child health, no change was seen in child immunization, and a significant decrease was observed for care-seeking for children with fever. Different factors are associated with care-seeking, which may explain in part the variations seen across care-seeking behaviors and possible influence of exogenous factors. Introduction of mHealth services for demand generation require attention.

Scale Matters: A Cost-Outcome Analysis of an m-Health Intervention in Malawi

September 8, 2015
Telemedicine and eHealth

Despite promising evidence on the benefits of such mHealth technologies, considerable gaps exist in the economic evaluations of m-health interventions. In a global survey on m-health solutions conducted by the World Health Organization, lack of cost-effectiveness data was identified. In order to strengthen the knowledge base for the assessment of m-health technology, the authors have undertaken a cost outcome analysis of an m-health intervention.Published in the Journal of Telemedicine and eHealth, the primary objectives of this study are to determine cost per user and cost per contact with users of a mobile health (m-health) intervention. Authors: Larsen-Cooper Erin, Bancroft Emily, Rajagopal Sharanya, O’Toole Maggie, and Levin Ann.

Where there is no phone: The benefits and limitations of using intermediaries to extend the reach of mHealth to individuals without personal phones in Malawi

June 10, 2015
African Population Studies

Study Published in African Population Studies Vol 29, No 1 (2015): Supplement on Leveraging Mobile Technology to Reduce Barriers to Maternal, Newborn And Child Health Care. The purpose of this study is to identify the benefits and limitations associated with intermediaries to provide access to and increase utilization of an mHealth intervention amongst people without personal phones in Balaka District, Malawi. A mixed-methods approach was utilized including quantitative data on usage and focus groups and interviews with users and volunteers. Community volunteers equipped with mobile phones served as intermediaries and were critical access points to the service for users without personal phones.

SMS versus voice messaging to deliver MNCH communication in rural Malawi: assessment of delivery success and user experience

January 28, 2014
Global Health: Science and Practice

SMS versus voice messaging to deliver MNCH communication in rural Malawi: assessment of delivery success and user experience. Read the full article published in Global Health: Science and Progress..

Links

Ellena's Story

Reaching Ellena

Ellena Sosteni is a 31-one-year-old mother of five who lives in a rural village in the Balaka district of Malawi. With the nearest health facility several kilometers away, Ellena and her family must walk about 2 hours to access basic health care services.

While visiting a village clinic, Ellena learned about Chipatala Cha Pa Foni (CCPF), or Health Center by Phone, from a community  health worker.  CCPF is a toll-free health hotline and message service in Malawi. CCPF creates a critical link between the health center and remote communities, increasing access to health information and care where it’s needed most.

After several weeks of persistent headache and feeling lethargic, Ellena decided to call CCPF. The hotline worker advised Ellena to consult a doctor to explore the possibility of pregnancy and to rule out malaria. Elena visited the health facility three days after calling CCPF where her pregnancy was confirmed.

Upon finding out she was pregnant, Ellena called CCPF again where she received advice on the importance of antenatal care, proper nutrition and the effects of hormonal changes during pregnancy.
In rural communities like Balaka, where getting to a health center is difficult, people…

Patuma's Story

Patuma’s Story

Patuma Richard’s family is  a mother of five  who lives in Kazondo Village in Balaka, a district in southern Malawi.

Until recently, their 5-year-old daughter Pricilla suffered from Epistaxis, frequent nose bleeds exacerbated by hot weather and malnutrition.  Patuma’s family does not have transportation, and the nearest health facility is more than an hour’s journey away on foot.  Patuma and Pricilla have made this journey several times in the past few months. A few months ago, when Priscilla began to vomit blood  they set out once again on the long trip to the hospital. When they arrived, the medication used to treat the condition was stocked out (a common occurrence), and instead she was given painkillers which did not help her condition. Frustrated, Patuma and Pricilla began the long journey back home to their village.
This is the last mile of healthcare – where distance, infrastructure, availability of medicines and trained health workers are a constant challenge. Because of distance in particular, making the decision to seek care is often a difficult one: weighing the cost and physical impact of travel against health concerns.
Fortunately, Patuma found out about CCPF. When Patuma called…

Fales Story

Fales and her mother expressed their gratitude to Chipatala cha pa Foni for saving Fales’ and her baby’s lives and educating them that early water breaking is a danger sign and requires a visit to the health facility as soon as possible. Fales also said she planned to enroll her baby into CCPF’s tips and reminders service for newborns, as she is sure her baby will benefit, much like she did from the pregnancy tips and reminders service.

Elina's Story

Elina is a single mother from Mpulula Village in Traditional Authority Msamala in Balaka District. Her home is almost 10 kilometers away from Balaka town. She discovered that she was HIV positive when she was pregnant but wasn’t ready to disclose her status to anyone. She did, however, register for the “tips and reminders” service from Chipatala cha pa Foni (CCPF), or “Health Center by Phone,”

mHealth impact Malawi

CCPF – Stories from the Field: Belinda

Belinda Chimwala is a 30 year old mother of four who lives in Madyeratu village in southern Malawi. Belinda lives 5 kilometers away from the nearest hospital with maternity and uses a bicycle to travel there.

Health Center by Phone (CCPF)

Click this link to see the full overview of this project via the IMPACT section of VillageReach web site. Chipatala cha pa Foni (CCPF), or Health Center by Phone, is an mHealth innovation in Malawi designed to increase access to timely and appropriate maternal, neonatal and child health information, advice and care.

Press Release

Press Release: VillageReach transitions Kwitanda Community Health Project to MaiKhanda Trust

PRESS RELEASE
30th March 2019
VillageReach transitions Kwitanda Community Health Project to MaiKhanda Trust
VillageReach and MaiKhanda Trust today announced that MaiKhanda will assume responsibility for the Kwitanda Community Health Project (KCHP) in the Balaka district of Malawi. MaiKhanda’s community-based approach to health care will sustain and build on the progress achieved in maternal and child health begun by VillageReach, the Ministry of Health (MoH), the Kwitanda community, and JBJ Foundation in 2008.

Impressive strides have been made in health in Kwitanda thanks to KCHP. Nearly 96% of women in the community now deliver their babies in a health facility[1] compared to 91% of women in rural areas nationally.[2]  Kwitanda has also become known for the high percentage of women who attend four antenatal visits—nearly 76% of women in Kwitanda attend four visits [1] while only 49% attend four visits in rural areas nationally. [2] 

VillageReach conducted a household study in 2017—2018 that highlighted additional achievements in Kwitanda. The study, which explored health issues facing women of reproductive age (15 to 49 years-old) and children under five years, collected data from 414 women and 375 children. Notably, Kwitanda residents displayed much higher treatment…

Press Release: Nexmo and CCPF

Press Release
Nexmo and VillageReach Provide Aide to Young Women and Expecting Mothers in Malawi via SMS Text and Voice
Health Center by Phone the First to Connect Health Workers with Patients via Combined Text and Voice

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 3, 2015 /PRNewswire/ – Nexmo, the leading cloud communications company, today announced a collaboration with VillageReach, a Seattle-based non-profit global health innovator, that developed the first comprehensive health center by phone for expecting mothers in Malawi. VillageReach teamed up with Nexmo to make Chitpatala cha pa Foni (CCPF), or Health Center by Phone, a hospital-based case management hotline and mobile message service that provide critical prenatal and childbirth information, available to mothers in remote areas.

Malawi has one of the highest rates of maternal, child, and infant mortality in the world, and simply knowing when to seek professional care and reaching the location of those resources can substantially reduce maternal and child mortality rates. A lack of healthcare professionals combined with the distance between health centers and the most rural communities often prevents women from accessing essential information and services. This results in women either neglecting needed care, or traveling substantial distances only to be told their symptoms…

News & Press

Press Releases and News Featuring VillageReach
For press inquiries, please contact media@villagereach.org.

2020
Press Release – November 24, 2020 The COVID-19 Pandemic Multi-sectoral Response (CMR) in DRC launched a dedicated hotline on WhatsApp, Alerte Santé COVID-19, in collaboration with VillageReach and Praekelt.org. Reach the press release here.

NPR Goats and Soda – October 27, 2020 VillageReach and President Emily Bancroft were mentioned in an article about a Trump administration executive order limiting what is permissible to discuss in federal workplace diversity trainings. Read the article.

Devex – July 10, 2020 VillageReach was featured in a Devex article that highlighted the COVID-19 Action Fund. Read the article.

Press Release – June 26, 2020 WGHA announces VillageReach as a winner of the 2020 Pioneers of Global Health Awards for Outstanding Organization. Read the press release.

Drone Life – June 25, 2020 An opinion piece c0-authored by a VillageReach staff  member about the considerations behind using drones in the COVID-19 response was published by Drone Life. Read the article.

Malawi Government – February 28, 2020 VillageReach and the Malawi Ministry of Health and Population were recognized by His Excellency Peter Mutharika, President of Malawi. Chipatala cha pa Foni was recognized…

Project Summaries

Organized Network of Services for Everyone’s (ONSE) Health in Malawi (ONSE)

ONSE is a maternal and child health systems strengthening program in Malawi aimed at reducing maternal, newborn and child mortality through a wide range of activities including improving access to better nutrition, family planning/reproductive health, malaria, and (WASH); improving the quality of these services through district level health system strengthening, and increasing demand for the services. The program incorporates a consortium of partners. VillageReach is responsible for supply chain strengthening activities from the district to the health centers to the village clinics. Key activities include rolling out the mobile health hotline CCPF nationwide with key mobilization activities in the 16 ONSE districts; expanding the use of pharmacy assistants as mentors to cluster facilities; providing oversight and capacity building for supply chain activities at the health centers; and improving health center and district’s ability to turn in timely and accurate commodity data reports…

DREAMS - CCPF for Adolescents

CCPF for Adolescents, is a two-year program that will expand Airtel Chipatala Cha Pa Foni (CCPF), or “Health Center by Phone,” an existing mobile-based health hotline and message service in Malawi. VillageReach will partner with Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands (PPGNHI) to reach adolescent girls and young women by targeting Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) behaviors, care-seeking, and social norms in order to reduce HIV incidence and increase secondary school retention – a key contributing factor of new HIV infections…

DREAMS Innovation: CCPF for Adolescents

VillageReach’s DREAMS Program, CCPF for Adolescents, aims to improve adolescent girls and young women’s access to age-appropriate sexual and reproductive health information, services and commodities. The program will strengthen VillageReach’s existing program, Chipatala cha pa Foni – Health Center by Phone, as a youth-friendly health service (YFHS) and broaden the influence of the Pharmacy Assistant Training Program to help build local facility-based youth friendly health services and supply chain management capacity…

D-tree Mobile Data Collection Field Test

VillageReach partnered with D-Tree International in the Kwitanda Health Center catchment population of Balaka, District Malawi to implement an integrated CCM/CBMNH application including training Health Surveillance Assistants (HSAs) and the development of a joint requirements document for the integration of the CCM/CBMNH application with VillageReach’s Chipatala Cha Pa Foni (CCPF) system…

Chipatala cha pa Foni: Health Center by Phone

VillageReach developed and operates Chipatala Cha Pa Foni (CCPF), a mobile-based health hotline in Malawi that aims to increase access to health information, advice and care over the phone.  Using a simple shortcode, users are connected to a hotline staffed by qualified health care practitioners to consult on a wide range of health information and provide referral services when needed. Users can also opt for personalized voice and SMS health messages tailored to women regarding their pregnancy or the health needs of their children. Operating since 2011, CCPF was first developed in partnership with Concern Worldwide and VillageReach as a resource for maternal and child health information specifically targeting rural and remote communities. The service has expanded to reach multiple districts and serves all demographics and a growing range of health topics. VillageReach is working with the Malawi Ministry of Health on a plan to fully transition program operations and scale up nationally…

Publications

CCPF Case study by UNESCO-Pearson Initiative for Literacy

July 31, 2017
CCPF Case study by UNESCO-Pearson Initiative for Literacy

CCPF was a selected case study through the UNESCO-Pearson Initiative for Literacy: Improved Livelihoods in a Digital World. This case study is part of a series highlighting how inclusive digital solutions can help people with low skills or low literacy levels use technology in ways that support skills development and, ultimately, improve livelihoods – in contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal on education. For more information

Chipatala Cha Pa Foni: Healthcare Through Mobile Phones Case Study

August 1, 2016

This case study demonstrates how VillageReach approached sustainability and scale for CCPF at the national level through partnerships with the national Ministry of Health (MOH) and a merger with Airtel. Through this case study, VillageReach shares its lessons learned during the IWG grant program as it pursued sustainability and scale.

Barr Foundation From Local to Global

Barr Foundation

Guided by a vision for a vibrant, just, and sustainable world with hopeful futures for children, Barr Foundation engaged with over 20 organizations striving to improve the lives of children and families living in poverty in East Africa,India, and Haiti. Read an exerpt from the report here featuring a progress report on VillageReach Pharmacy Assitants Program, generously funded by Barr Foundation.

Sustainable Financing for mHealth

February 1, 2014
mHealth Alliance, Vital Wave Consulting

An analysis of five financial models that exist today in priority mHealth areas.

mHealth Field Guide for Newborn Health

January 1, 2014
USAID, dimagi, coregroup

Read the case study on page 13 featuring VillageReach CCPF  “Health Center by Phone” program in Malawi. Produced by CORE Group, Dimagi & USAID

Addressing Gender and Women's Empowerment in mHealth for MNCH

March 1, 2013
mHealth Alliance (UN Foundation)

An analytical framework for addressing gender and women’s empowerment within mHealth and MNCH programs.

Blog

The Changemaker Behind CCPF

Patience Tchongwe always knew she would be ready to answer the call when it came to public service. When she joined Malawi’s Chipatala cha pa Foni (CCPF), or health center by phone in Chichewa, her desire to make a difference was realized.

In 2015, Tchongwe became a part of the hotline as a nurse midwife specializing in nutrition and food science. At that time, CCPF was only operating in two districts and with three volunteers behind the phones offering advice about maternal and child health. But even in its early stages, the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) and Tchongwe’s team could see the value the hotline was bringing to Malawians.

 

“We were changing lives, and the minister of health saw that. He decided to hire more nurses with the proper qualifications,” Tchongwe said.

From then on, Tchongwe would spend long hours and late nights developing the critical health information and the necessary tools for her hotline workers so that they could properly inform callers and bring them the health care they deserved. Her hard work paid off. She became a key liaison between the MoHP and VillageReach as CCPF transformed into a nationwide offering with an…

The Journey to a Health Center in Every Home: A Photo Essay

Originally posted on medium.com.

In remote and rural communities, distance often prevents people from accessing the health information they need. Chipatala cha pa Foni (CCPF), or Health Center by Phone,  in Malawi extends the reach of the health care system to every community by providing access to certified health and nutrition information and services via a toll-free number.

CCPF is staffed by trained health workers who provide information and referrals over the phone.

The hotline initially focused on maternal and child health needs. CCPF has since expanded to include all standard health topics—including water, sanitation, hygiene, infectious diseases and nutrition—in accordance with Malawi’s Ministry of Health guidelines.

The hotline workers provide clients with information and advice on a wide range of health topics and refers callers displaying “danger signs” for further care at a village clinic, health center or hospital.

A “Voice Message” service allows clients to select and listen to voice recordings on sexual, reproductive, maternal and child health topics using an ordinary cell phone. The recordings are tailored to the client’s week of pregnancy or a child’s age.

Youth services were introduced in 2017, increasing access to sexual and reproductive health…

CCPF is a Driver of Transformative Initiative in Malawi

VillageReach and the Malawi Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) received a prestigious award from The National Planning Commission (NPC) recognizing Chipatala Cha Pa Foni (CCPF) or “Health Center by Phone” as a Transformative Initiative for the country. CCPF is a toll-free health hotline in Malawi that creates a link between the health center and remote communities. CCPF is staffed by trained health workers who provide information and referrals over the phone. Originally only operating in one district, the hotline is now nationwide and being integrated into the Malawian health system.

The NPC , who is forming the development plans for Malawi and oversees their implementation, hailed the VillageReach partnership with the MoHP and other stakeholders for the development and implementation of CCPF. The award is testimony of VillageReach’s work with the government to solve health care delivery challenges in Malawian communities, particularly through encouraging the use of technology in reaching communities with health information services.

The award was presented at the launch of the National Envisioning Process by the State President of Malawi, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika. The National Envisioning Consultation is the official platform to launch the processes to develop a New Vision that defines the common…

Rising to the call of health center by phone to reach all Malawians

Access to health care was challenging for under-reached communities in Malawi. Now Malawians can dial 54747 to reach Patience Tchongwe, senior hotline supervisor and recent award winner, and her team of hotline staff who are always ready to take the call.
Tchongwe, a trained nurse in the area of nutrition and midwifery, offers health and nutrition information and provides referrals to callers of the service. “I truly enjoy answering calls, helping people, giving them the health information they need and to help individuals and their families to make informed decisions so they know where and when to seek medical care,” said Tchongwe.

Chipatala cha pa Foni (CCPF), which means health center by phone in Chichewa, was developed by the Malawi Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) in partnership with VillageReach to improve health outcomes by increasing access to free, timely and quality health information.
When Tchongwe joined VillageReach in 2015, CCPF was only operating in two districts, and it focused solely on maternal and child health (MNCH) information. Since then, she became a critical liaison between MHoP and VillageReach during a time of expansion into other health topics. Now Tchongwe has played a central role in supporting the scale…

How Mad Libs Helped Share Insights of Scaling Through Government

Originally posted on the Skoll Foundation Blog.

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 matters because_____________ was a great way to get us started.

My answer was that scale matters because it gives communities hope that an intervention is here to stay. For the last several years I’ve been supporting the Malawi Ministry of Health & Population (MoHP) in integrating the health hotline Chipatala cha pa Foni (CCPF) into the government. At VillageReach we define transition as the process of integrating a solution into…

Innovation and the art of solving health care challenges

Originally posted on The Medium.
One of VillageReach’s values is Innovation, where we believe creativity and fearless exploration foster lasting change. VillageReach has developed and refined an approach of co-creating innovative solutions in the delivery of health products and services, integrating solutions with proven impact into the health system, and ensuring governments and their partners are prepared to sustain them over time.
As with any innovation it starts with a challenge, such as: how can a solution address the barriers to health care when families live far from health centers? In remote and rural communities in Malawi, receiving antenatal information and care for pregnant women, or getting access to pediatric health information for babies and children can mean traveling up to 5 kilometers or farther by foot to the nearest health center. The right solution would solve for distance challenges and potentially decrease maternal and child mortality rates — because accurate information leads to informed health decisions.

Beyond distance barriers, financial barriers can also impact the ability for women and children to get the care they need. To address both of these issues and more, on September 23rd world leaders committed to the United Nations Political Declaration on universal…

How to Transition Social Solutions to Government

Originally posted on Stanford Social Innovation Review

 

On a rainy day in February 2018, standing among dignitaries, partners, donors, and community members, it hit home that one of our health programs was ready to fledge. We realized it as Malawi’s now former Minister of Health and Population Atupele Muluzi unveiled a plaque on a new government building, out of which the national health hotline we developed would operate going forward. We watched its ownership slowly evolve over the course of many speeches during the ceremony. At one point, Muluzi stated the program was “an important part of achieving universal health coverage in Malawi.”  But were we ready to hand over the keys to a solution we had nurtured for nearly a decade? When was the right time? And how would we know?

“Sustainability” has long been a buzzword in the development community, but the road to long-term social impact is not always clear. Success often depends on an organization’s ability to support governments as they assume responsibility for and eventually own a program’s ongoing operations and management. If it can’t, the solution and its positive impact on the community can disappear or require external…

Letting Youth Lead: Engaging Youth Champions

A Platform for Youth
Transforming Chipatala cha pa Foni (CCPF) – health center by phone – into a youth-friendly health service requires support from unexpected places. Since 2011, this service has provided health information to communities around Malawi. Through the DREAMS Innovation Fund, CCPF has expanded to provide a free, confidential option for young women and men to learn more about sexual and reproductive health topics.

Hotline nurses were trained in youth-friendly service practices. New content was developed targeted at the specific needs of youth. Partnerships were coordinated to make the service more accessible to youth. Everything was ready to go – the question became, how do we encourage youth to call?

Working with partners and Adolescent Advisors, VillageReach taps into existing networks and finds passionate youth who can champion CCPF for Adolescents among their peers.
Austin Becomes a Youth Champion
Working with fellow adolescents is nothing new for Austin. At 19-years-old, Austin is already an active member of his community in Liwonde township. He is involved in several youth clubs, including a club hosted by the Youth Impact organization. This is where he first heard about CCPF for Adolescents.

Mwayi and Shaban – two Adolescent Advisors – came to speak…

Increasing Youth Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Information

DREAMS Innovation Challenge | Success Story

Connecting adolescents with resources is nothing new for Tinnah Onions—it is Tinnah’s first time, however, linking adolescents to sexual and reproductive health information via Chipatala cha pa Foni (CCPF), or Health Center by Phone, a toll-free mobile health hotline in Malawi.  CCPF utilizes trained healthcare workers to provide health information and referrals over the phone, providing a critical link to the health system, especially for remote and underserved communities.  Tinnah and her colleague Justin Mpalabwazi are some of the most recent additions to the VillageReach team through CCPF for Adolescents, an initiative of the DREAMS Innovation Challenge.  As adolescent advisers, Tinnah and Justin focus on promoting the CCPF service to their adolescent peers and improving the quality of customer service that the hotline offers. In their roles, Tinnah and Justin play a critical role to help address the sexual and reproductive health information needs of adolescents in Malawi.

Malawi sees high rates of pregnancy, HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STI) among adolescents, which contribute to school dropouts among the country’s youth. In addition, unintended pregnancies among adolescent girls can have far-reaching consequences and can lead to unsafe abortions, dangerous childbirths…

Getting Creative for Sexual Reproductive Health: Taurai's Story

DREAMS Innovation Challenge | Success Story

More than anything, Taurai Kamfosi loves to sing. Music has played an important part of her life since she was a small child and at 10 years old, she composed her first song. It became even more important to her when her parents could not afford her school fees, and she focused on pursuing a passion for music.

For Taurai, music is a powerful tool. Even from an early age, Taurai has dedicated her musical talents to empowering women. As a young girl, she performed in her community to encourage young girls to resist peer pressure, to value their education, and to make smart choices for themselves. She has seen firsthand the pressure many girls face from older men – and she knows how early pregnancies and teenage marriage can prevent women from pursuing their dreams.   

Recently, Taurai has turned her musical talents to a new cause: Chipatala Cha Pa Foni (CCPF) for Adolescents – a youth-friendly, toll-free health hotline that provides vital sexual and reproductive health information to youth in Malawi.

Turning music into action
In July 2017, Taurai met a team of Adolescent Advisors representing Chipatala Cha Pa Foni, or “Health Center by…

Learning to Talk to Young People

DREAMS Innovation Challenge | Success Story

Funding from the DREAMS Innovation Challenge supports the expansion of Malawi’s mobile health hotline Chipatala cha pa Foni (CCPF), or Health Center by Phone. Implemented by VillageReach and its partners, CCPF for Adolescents builds on the existing toll-free hotline to improve access to youth-friendly sexual reproductive health (SRH) information and referral services. CCPF for Adolescents operates in two DREAMS project districts that have high rates of unplanned pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections/HIV among adolescents.

SRH services for young people must be supportive, client-centered, judgment-free, affordable and accessible. In June 2017, Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands (PPGNHI), a leader in the delivery of youth-friendly SRH care, provided training to VillageReach hotline workers. VillageReach staff developed an understanding of how to support the needs of their young clients, while PPGNHI staff heard about the life-saving work that CCPF does in communities across Malawi.

PPGNHI also conducted a training of trainers (TOT) for 27 people from CCPF’s leadership and the VillageReach team to ensure sustained capacity to uphold youth-friendly services. One of the staff who participated in this training was Patience Tchongwe, CCPF…

Where Youth-Friendly Health Information is Just a Phone Call Away

DREAMS Innovation Challenge  |  Success Story

Connecting adolescents with resources is nothing new for Tinnah Onions, but it is her first time linking them to sexual and reproductive health information via the toll-free Chipatala Cha Pa Foni (CCPF)— Health Center by Phone—hotline. CCPF hires health care workers to provide health information and referrals over the phone, providing a critical link to the health system, especially for remote and underserved communities.

Tinnah and her colleague Justin Mpalabwazi are some of the most recent additions to CCPF for Adolescents, an initiative of the DREAMS Innovation Challenge. As adolescent advisors, they promote the CCPF service to their peers, helping to meet the sexual and reproductive health information needs of adolescents in Malawi.

Malawi has high rates of pregnancy, and HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STI) among adolescents, which contribute to school dropout among the country’s youth. In addition, unintended pregnancies among adolescent girls have far-reaching consequences and can lead to unsafe abortions, dangerous child birth, and even death.

One factor contributing to these high rates of pregnancy and STIs is adolescents’ inability or hesitancy to seek information or care for sexual and reproductive health (SRH) issues. Distance to the…

From Theirs to Ours: Proximity and the Power of Relationship

Reposted from Skoll Perspectives

Izizi ndi Zathu Zomwe. This is ours. That’s the name my team of adolescent researchers has given a groundbreaking public health initiative—a close study of their peers’ needs, behaviors, and preferences related to contraceptives. That name signals the importance of the qualitative, context-specific information required to succeed in such an initiative—proximity is necessary to develop the new approaches that will improve healthcare access for all. The data from this study will assist product manufacturers and policy stakeholders to address the unique and specific contraceptive needs of young people.

At VillageReach, proximity is multi-dimensional. It must mean nearness in relationship as well as nearness in space and time. Shared ownership allows organizations to truly see and represent the individuals they serve.

Social entrepreneurs have become skilled at finding creative ways to bridge geographic proximity. In Malawi, we are building on a rich history of leapfrogging technologies that can overcome distance in low-resource settings. Data capture and analysis are helping ensure the right health products are available at the right time in the right places. UAVs are being tested to address the availability of blood in emergencies, access to routine health products…

Voices of 2017: A Year in Review

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:

“It is only when you combine local knowledge, local systems and local reach with global knowledge and a global network, that an initiative will get rooted and grow.”
-Mrs. Graça Machel, Advocate for Women & Children’s Rights
Graça Machel returned to Seattle after 17 years, when she first helped inspire the founding of VillageReach. At a gathering of VillageReach staff and supporters, Ma Machel spoke of her passion for supporting women and children around the world – and the importance of starting at the last mile. Her wisdom and experience reignited the same passion in all of us at VillageReach.
“We have committed funding…

Moving Day: A new home for CCPF

This week, Chipatala cha pa Foni (CCPF) or “Health Center by Phone” moved its operations from Balaka, a rural community in southern Malawi, to its new facility in the capital city of Lilongwe. As we packed up the phones, headsets, and files, I was struck by how symbolic the moment was. This move is more than a change of location. It represents the progress of CCPF many years in the making: from a maternal and child health service in one district to a comprehensive health hotline accessible to more than 5 million people across the country. From this new facility, CCPF will have the proper infrastructure and operational capacity to become Malawi’s first government-run national health hotline, a goal we are on track to reach by December of this year. At that stage, the service will be accessible to over 17 million Malawians. Having supervised this program for one and a half years, I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to work with the Government of Malawi Ministry of Health, our dedicated CCPF teams, and all of the donors and partners who have made this day possible.

This move is more than a new facility, it’s…

A National Mobile Health Hotline in Malawi: One Step Closer

I am pleased to announce that the Malawi Ministry of Health has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to scale the mobile health hotline Chipatala Cha Pa Foni (CCPF), or “Health Center by Phone,” nationally. When complete, CCPF will be the first, government-run national mobile health hotline in Africa. This MOU solidifies the Ministry’s commitment to fully adopt and integrate CCPF into the established health system. As with any innovation, and particularly within the digital health landscape, getting to this stage of scale is a major achievement.

“When complete, CCPF will be the first, government-run national mobile health hotline in Africa.”

Why it Matters

In many communities, distance often prevents people from seeking care, particularly at the last mile where access is most limited. Through CCPF, people can access health information, advice, and referrals simply by making a toll-free phone call. By providing this vital health service, CCPF bridges the gap in health care access that many Malawi communities face. When scale up is complete by the end of 2017, CCPF will reach all districts, serving more than 17 million people, significantly extending the reach of the health system. Remote access to health workers also reduces…

Thank You for Your Support

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

Chipatala 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.

The second class of pharmacy assistants graduated! Students and graduates now work in districts reaching 99% of the population in Malawi.  With a pharmacy assistant, frontline health workers spend more time with patients, medicines are managed more effectively, and the quality of care is…

A Mother's Journey

I recently returned from a trip to Malawi where I had the opportunity to visit several families who have benefited from Chipatala Cha Pa Foni, or Health Center by Phone, a toll-free health hotline in Malawi that connects individuals directly with trained health workers who provide information, advice and referrals over the phone. One of those visits was with the Richards family who live in Kazondo Village in Balaka, a district in southern Malawi.

As I traveled on the long dirt road to their home, there were fewer and fewer houses.  When we finally made it to the end of the road, I was greeted by Patuma, her husband, and their five children, including 5-year-old Pricilla. Until recently, Pricilla suffered from Epistaxis, frequent nose bleeds exacerbated by hot weather and malnutrition. Like many people in her village, Patuma’s family does not have transportation, and the nearest health facility is more than an hour’s journey away on foot.  Patuma and Pricilla have made this journey several times in the past few months. Patuma told me about a recent trip where Priscilla began to vomit blood and they set out once again on the long trip to…

World AIDS Day: Innovation and Partnership

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.

Chipatala cha pa Foni: The Impact of Information
Connecting with a healthcare professional in a rural community can often mean walking many kilometers – a trip which can be an obstacle to women seeking information to keeping their children healthy. Chipatala cha pa Foni (CCPF) is a mobile health hotline that allows these women to connect to the health information they need. Elina wanted to protect her newborn daughter from contracting HIV and was given Bactrim to do just that, but upon her return…

A Welcome Disruption

It was a bit of serendipity when the young woman’s phone started buzzing. Normally at a conference, a phone call or a text message would be an embarrassing disruption, but not this time. This interruption came as twenty young women gathered to share their personal stories. Some had children, some were sex workers, others had dropped out of school. These women were representatives of the many young women around Zomba and Machinga Districts in Malawi who face challenges in accessing quality reproductive health services, providing real faces to the broader issue at hand.

This text message was received at the DREAMS Innovation Challenge Ambassador Workshop in Blantyre, Malawi – where I represented VillageReach as one of the 56 winners chosen to find new, innovative ways to reduce the impact of HIV on women and girls. This workshop brought together Innovation Challenge winners from around Malawi, as well as this group of young women. We were all there to learn and share, creating new connections while underscoring the importance and urgency of this work.

The young woman quietly raised her hand, pausing the ongoing discussion to share the contents on her phone. The text she received was from Chipatala cha pa…

First Time at the Last Mile

Today marks my second day of a two-week tour to visit the VillageReach offices in Malawi and Mozambique. My mission? To get a firsthand perspective of the “last mile” and document our work through the words and stories of those who benefit directly from VillageReach programs. Unlike most of our program staff who travel regularly to the field, this is my first time traveling to Africa. I came as prepared as I could, following all the recommendations from the travel clinic, purchasing electric chargers and outlet converters, buying out all of the bug repellent at my local drugstore, and overpacking. But today, all of these preparations and details that I’ve been so focused on for the past few weeks seem insignificant in light of the experiences I’m having — and will continue to have over the next two weeks.

Today, we spent all day traveling to several hospitals and clinics throughout Lilongwe, Malawi. I met Hawa, a 20-year-old woman who was recovering from fistula surgery made possible through contact with VillageReach’s mobile health hotline, CCPF. She told us how grateful she is for CCPF because she can now lead a normal life again, free from…

When Health Workers Need a Helpline

Malawi has made incredible strides over the past few years to reduce morbidity and mortality, specifically among women and children under 5 years old. Key to this success has been a focus on using community health workers, known in Malawi as Health Surveillance Assistants (HSAs), to push direct healthcare services throughout the most rural, hard-to-reach, quintessential last mile communities. As a result, people who otherwise may not have reached a health facility can now access basic services from their HSA—sometimes even in their own homes. At the same time, however, more HSAs work in isolation or as the only person from their cadre within their area, with little interaction with colleagues, supervisors or other healthcare providers.

HSAs are typically responsible for areas of around 1,000 people each, often from two to three neighboring villages. HSAs live and work in these areas to better serve their clients, but this limits their access to information and advice from colleagues and supervisors. Similarly, rural health centers are run by medical assistants who have two years of post-secondary school education and are typically the only medical assistant or clinical officer at their site. Better communication and coordination between healthcare…

Reaching Further: Upile Kachila

Bringing a program to scale can’t be done single-handedly. It requires the commitment of partners working collaboratively towards a common goal and a dedicated team to keep up momentum as new and unexpected challenges arise. Sometimes, key individuals drive a project forward. They find themselves in the unique position to motivate partners and steward the larger team. Upile Kachila is one of these people.

As the new VillageReach Technical Assistant seconded to the Malawi Ministry of Health, Upile is helping guide the Chipatala Cha Pa Foni program through the process of national scale-up. CCPF, or Health Center by Phone, provides easily accessible health information and referrals for over 1.3 million people in eight districts in Malawi. With dedicated partners like Johnson & Johnson Corporate Contributions and Airtel committed to the transition and scale up, in addition to the partners supporting the districts,  CCPF is continuing to expand both in scope and scale, with the goal of reaching every one of the 28 districts and all 16 million people. Upile will play a critical role, helping to lay the groundwork for a truly sustainable, country-wide service.
Working out of the Ministry of Health in the Central…

Your Support: Reaching More with CCPF

We are pleased to announce that the Johnson & Johnson Foundation has become one of the key partners in championing Chipitala Cha Pa Foni (CCPF) as it advances towards national scale. The Johnson & Johnson Corporate Contributions is a known supporter of community-based health care solutions that strengthen the health workforce, save and improve the lives of women and children and prevent disease among the most vulnerable.

2015: Year In Review

A yearly review of key accomplishments and a look to the year ahead, by VillageReach President Allen Wilcox

mHealth Impact at Scale – What Does it Actually Cost?

Republished from the UN Foundation Blog: Global Connections

I often find myself playing the global health version of “if you were trapped on a desert island, which three things would you bring?” In my version, it’s “if you were the Ministry of Health, which three programs would you fund?” When I do this thought experiment, I often run into the exact same impossible questions cash-strapped ministries of health are forced to answer: Do I fund health workers or do I buy medicines? Do I fund treatment services or invest in preventative health programs? What will have the most impact? What will save the most lives? After a while, I do what any reasonable person faced with an unwinnable game does – I find a loophole.

The question “what does the health system need the most?” is extremely difficult to answer, so I replace it with an easier question – “how do we make programs with proven impact more cost-effective, so that we can better address and fund health system needs?” And this is the exact question VillageReach recently set out to answer with our study Scale Matters: A Cost-Outcome Analysis of an m-Health Intervention in Malawi.

Since…

IWG mHealth Capacity Building Workshop 2015

BLOG: A summary of our experience and key learning from IWG mHealth Capacity Building Workshop 2015, Nairobi.

In The Lion's Den: Evaluating Africa's Most Innovative mHealth Solutions

Using mobile technology is a key component in USAID’s strategy to end preventable maternal and child deaths, called Acting on the Call . According to USAID, by using mobile technology to accelerate our rate of progress, we can save the lives of 15 million children and almost 600,000 women by 2020.  For the past four days, I’ve had the opportunity to explore how other countries and organizations are approaching this goal at the Africa Regional Meeting on Digital Health for Overcoming Barriers to Ending Preventable Child and Maternal Deaths and Achieving Universal Health Coverage.
According to USAID, by using mobile technology to accelerate our rate of progress, we can save the lives of 15 million children and almost 600,000 women by 2020.

This meeting, (#DH4Africa) has become an annual gathering to explore how digital technology can impact health outcomes. The first meeting was held in Kigali in 2010, with subsequent gatherings in cities across Africa including Dar es Salaam, Addis Ababa, and this year in Lilongwe, Malawi. Over 15 African nations convened – including government leaders, NGOs, bilateral agencies, donors, and the private sector – to facilitate learning, share our work, ideas and questions around the most promising programs…

Scaling mHealth in Malawi - Something to Celebrate

This blog from VillageReach M&E Officer, Robert Saiti, describes the CCPF launch event that took place on March 12th. The expansion of CCPF means 65,000 more women and caregivers of young children will now have access to the service.

Lessons Learned from the Implementation of ANC Connect

BLOG: VillageReach, in partnership with CHAI, is currently piloting a new mHealth project aimed at increasing ANC participation among mothers in Malawi. The project, called ANC Connect, links pregnant women with health surveillance assistants, or HSAs (community health workers).

A Visit From Dr. Kabambe

I recently joined, the Director of Planning and Policy Implementation of the Malawian Ministry of Health, for a meeting with Jessica Crawford and Zachariah Jezman, Country Director and Project Manager of VillageReach. We discussed Chipatala Cha Pa Foni and the possibilities of scaling the project nationally…

How a Phone Call Saved a Life

Had it not been for CCPF and the transport officer, Mercy would have suffered severe bleeding and infection. Fortunately, she and her baby boy received timely and appropriate care, and both are happy and healthy today.

VillageReach Featured in Seattle International Foundation's 2013 Global Giving Guide

Excerpt on CCPF from Seattle International Foundation’s Giving Guide: Rose is a Group Village Head in central Malawi and is responsible for overseeing the well-being of a community of a 32-village community. She has long been concerned with the challenges women and children face in her community when trying to access health information and services.

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Malawi healthcare worker