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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

DRC Supply Chain Assessment (English)

October 30, 2015
DRC Supply Chain Assesment: Exploring New Distribution Models for Vaccines and other Health Commodities

Exploring New Distribution Models for Vaccines and other Health Commodities Adapted to the on the Ground Realities of the Equateur and Tshuapa Provinces, Democratic Republic of Congo. By Olivier Defawe and Wendy Prosser

Fact Sheets

Nouvelle génération des chaînes d’approvisionnement en RDC : renforcer les chaînes d’approvisionnement au dernier kilomètre

October 11, 2017
Nouvelle génération des chaînes d’approvisionnement en RDC : renforcer les chaînes d’approvisionnement au dernier kilomètre

An Overview of system design work in DRC.

Journal Articles

Leading from all levels: building supply chain leadership capacity in Equateur Province, Democratic Republic of Congo

British Medial Journal

This paper documents the learnings from a supply chain leadership intervention in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which aimed to build leadership capacity in a cross-tier group of central/provincial/district-level leaders.

Links

The potential of next-generation supply chains to ease DRC’s “Casse-tête”

Looking at the challenges of vaccine delivery in the DRC today and why a new or “next-generation” immunization supply chain is needed, what it might look like, and its potential benefits.

Press Release

Press Release: Parliamentarians in Equateur, Democratic Republic of Congo commit to sustainable health financing

PRESS RELEASE
17 December 2019
Parliamentarians in Equateur, Democratic Republic of Congo
Commit to Sustainable Health Financing
MBANDAKA, DECEMBER 15, 2019 – In Equateur province, Democratic Republic of Congo, Parliamentarians have taken bold steps to guarantee the health of the people who elected them. On 5 December 2019, 14 members of Parliament unanimously voted the first ever law on sustainable health financing in Equateur province. This is also the first law passed in the current legislature that started in March 2019. The new law would emphasize domestic resource mobilization to address various health challenges that the province is facing including ensuring vaccines and products are available to address childhood disease and recurrent cholera, measles, Ebola and pneumonia outbreaks.

For Honorable Buka Claude , the President of Equateur Provincial Parliament, “The new law is expected to help meet commitments made during the National Forum on Immunization and Polio eradication on 23 July 2019 under the leadership of Felix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, the President of Democratic Republic of Congo. … My colleague Parliamentarians and I are very concerned about child mortality and recurrent outbreaks. This is what motivated us to pass the Edict to enable the Provincial Government to mobilize and allocate more resources in…

President Transition

Announcement
August 24, 2017- Seattle, WA- VillageReach announced today that Evan Simpson has tendered his resignation as President of VillageReach. The Board has appointed Vice President, Emily Bancroft, to the role of Acting President. Emily has been with VillageReach for over seven years, serving in the role of Vice President since 2015. Simpson will remain with the organization until September 1 to support the transition process.

“VillageReach is an exceptional organization. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such a talented, passionate team of global health professionals who are at the forefront of last mile health innovation,” said Simpson.  “I know the organization will continue to grow and thrive, and I look forward to seeing that progress.”

The Board of Directors will lead the recruitment process, with a leadership transition expected in the coming year.

“Evan made significant contributions to further the mission of VillageReach, driving the organization forward in many ways during a significant phase of growth,” says Rick Fant, VillageReach Board Chair.  “We are very confident in Emily Bancroft as Acting President and her ability to effectively manage the organization through this period of transition and continued growth. Emily is a proven leader whose…

News & Press

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

2020
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 as a Driver of Transformative Initiatives in Malawi.

Card Rates News – January 27, 2020 VillageReach was featured on CardRates.com, including an interview with president Emily Bancroft. Read the article. 
2019
Press Release – December 17, 2019 In Equateur province, Democratic Republic of Congo, Parliamentarians have taken bold steps to commit to sustainable health financing. Read the press release.

Announcement – December 10, 2019 VillageReach announces new board members. Read the announcement.

Skoll Foundation Spotlight – November 21, 2019 Program manager Upile Kachila reflects on some of the biggest lessons learned from the CCPF transition to government. Read the article.

Press Release -Puget Sound Business Journal – October 25, 2019 VillageReach was recognized as one of Washington’s most equitable workplaces. Read the list. Read the press release.

Upworthy & Good – September 11, 2019 The story of the drone flights in Democratic Republic of Congo is shared, including a video of the drone taking off. Read the article.

Kiro…

Project Summaries

Supply Chain Assessment, Modeling and System Design

In collaboration with the World Bank, VillageReach conducted an assessment identifying gaps in the supply chain performance in isolated and underserved areas within the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). As part of the Final 20: Accelerating Next Generation Immunization Supply Chains Program financed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, VillageReach will partner with in-country stakeholders to conduct modeling exercises and identify opportunities for improvement in commodity availability and immunization supply chain optimization. This modeling work will inform the development of a ministry- supported and owned implementation plan that will be applied to strengthening the immunization supply chain in the Equateur Province of DRC…

Publications

Increasing Access to Health Products in the DRC

September 27, 2018
Increasing Access to Health Products in the DRC

This document focuses on creating a more efficient, effective and resilient supply chain with the Next Generation Supply Chain Initiative in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It summarizes the five pillars of transformation, the benefits to the health system, and considerations for scaling or adapting the initiative within and beyond Equateur Province.

Blog

Observations from a hot zone: COVID-19 and the threat of complacency

Originally posted on medium.com.
Given our reputation for working in low-resource communities in sub-Saharan Africa, VillageReach donors are asking about the impact of COVID-19 and the measures we are taking.

It is without a doubt that we are experiencing disruption, but today the community that is seeing the most disruption is not in one of the health systems usually described as under-resourced. It is right here in Seattle.

“Seattle” by Michael Gwyther-Jones
Our health system is bolstered by a top-rated School of Public Health and one of the best teaching and research medical schools in the U.S. Seattle is home to a world-renowned cancer research center and arguably the most influential foundation on the planet. All this draws some of the brightest minds in medicine, epidemiology and health care systems to our Emerald City.
Despite this, funding for public health has been constrained for years in Washington state. Shock from increasing COVID-19 cases and deaths is sweeping through the city, and rapid response protocols have left public health officials asking the same hard questions that the Ministry of Health (MoH) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) had to ask…

It takes a village to deliver the first vaccines by drone in DRC

Originally posted on Medium.com

I started working in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) four years ago when VillageReach was approached with an opportunity–to improve the availability of vaccines and essential medicines in rural Equateur province. 

I never back down from a challenge, and this one couldn’t be more difficult given the forest density, the river running through the province, and lack of roads. What roads there were would get washed away or become mud pistes for Land Cruisers during the rainy season. 

In countries like DRC, supply chains are designed with the environment in mind and drones looked promising for vaccine distribution given these conditions. After months of building the case for testing drones, the plan to perform a series of demonstration flights was approved.

Transportation challenges on the road from Widjifake to Mbandaka. Photo by Kat Tillman     
Awestruck
The first day of the demonstration was just like any other day in the tropical forest. The rain drizzle was on and off as I stood with colleagues and members of the community in front of the health center. 

Then we could hear it — the sound of a loud mosquito — we looked up at the sky to…

INFUSE 2019: Harnessing innovation to accelerate urban immunisation coverage

Originally posted on Gavi.org.

Geneva, 26 July 2019 – A chatbot technology powered by artificial intelligence (AI), an analytics platform using crowd-sourced data and a new approach to transgender community engagement have all been chosen to be 2019’s INFUSE Pacesetters.

Gavi launched INFUSE – Innovation for Uptake, Scale and Equity in Immunisation – at the 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos to help improve vaccine delivery systems by connecting high-impact innovations with the countries that need them the most.

This year, Gavi sought innovations uniquely positioned to address the challenges involved in assuring that children living in urban areas are reached with immunisation and health services.

At a two-day workshop in Barcelona, an expert panel of Gavi-country representatives, private sector leaders and global health experts selected three INFUSE Pacesetters from more than 200 innovations:

VillageReach – Praekelt.org: Uses a chatbot technology powered by AI and machine learning to increase access to information about immunisation services.
Premise Data: Provides an analytics platform using crowd-sourced data to help governments improve and optimise immunisation services.
ZMQ Development: Leverages the power of storytelling to boost immunisation rates in the slums of New Delhi.

The 2019 INFUSE Pacesetters with Gavi CEO…

Ebola Outbreak Response in the Democratic Republic of Congo

On July 17, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) a public health emergency of international concern.

The WHO declaration is a serious matter, and one that VillageReach does not take lightly.  We support WHO’s decision to raise the global profile of this outbreak, as many lives have been lost and new resources and solutions are needed.  WHO reported on July 18th that there have been 2522 confirmed and probable cases of Ebola in this region and 1698 deaths since the beginning of the outbreak. 135 of the infections have been in health workers. Since the Ebola outbreak is taking place in a conflict zone, containment and response has been difficult.

 

Although the area of outbreak is far away from VillageReach’s direct work with government partners in Kinshasa as well as the provinces of Equateur, Haut-Lomami, Tanganyika and Kwilu, we know that travel and commerce can easily change the trajectory of the outbreak.  We will look to provide support to those who are actively engaged in outbreak response and continue to monitor the health of our employees and their families.

Resources are needed to curb this outbreak…

Drones for Health — Exchanging ideas to advance this frontier technology

Originally posted on Medium.com

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.

In Mozambique, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), VillageReach is testing the use of drones for health in partnership with the government and various drone companies. These short-term tests aim to prove the feasibility of drones for specific use cases, including how their performance and costs stack up against the status quo. Each of…

Three More Reasons to Invest in Health for the Excluded

Originally posted on World Bank Blogs.

At the heart of universal health coverage (UHC) is leaving no one behind.  Remarkable efforts are underway to energize culture, activate politicians and align global actors to prioritize actions that reach the poorest and most marginalized people first.  The health, economic and social benefits of UHC are well-documented.  At VillageReach, three additional reasons inspire us to lead with the last in order to ensure access to affordable and quality health services for all.

Hawa from rural Machinga district of Malawi, full of life after receiving a fistula repair surgery thanks to the health hotline Chipatala cha pa Foni (Photo by Paul Joseph Brown)

Beginning with the hard-to-reach builds resiliency.  Starting with communities that are geographically or socially difficult to reach helps us develop a model that can be adapted to other, less challenging areas. In resource-constrained environments, you need to move quickly to put in place contextually appropriate systems. And you must break down silos create more efficient systems that reach everyone.  In the remote province of Equateur, Democratic Republic of Congo, we implemented a model to bring medicines and supplies directly to health workers rather than having them leave…

All in One Boat

Transporting vaccines, essential and generic medicines and family planning products in separate shipments when they are all going to the same health facility is an inefficient use of precious resources. An integrated system for delivering products to the last mile has been developed and implemented by the Next Generation of Supply Chain initiative (NGCA) in DRC’s Equateur province. This report details how the integrated distribution contributed to improved product availability, overall cost savings and more time for health workers to spend delivering immunizations and other health services.    

On my recent trip in Equateur province, I supported the NGCA team in the distribution of vaccines and medicines at service delivery points, using only one canoe. One of the health centers visited was Centre de Santé de Mobeka, which is about 305 km away from the provincial warehouses in Mbandaka. The Mobeka health center manager Adonis Mpaka Mamboyo expressed his full satisfaction in receiving different health products at the same time.

“I am happy every time we receive the vaccines and other health products at the same time. This helps me to concentrate only on the clinics, spend more time with the patients and assist them better, without worrying about the…

DRC Vaccine Hero: Jean Louis Esanzo

Jean Louis Esanzo, is the Superintendent Nurse at the Konongo Health Center, in the Mankanza health district of Equateur province, DRC. Konongo Health Center supplies vaccines and essential medicines for many surrounding villages. However, the only way to get vaccines to Konongo from the provincial warehouse is by boat on the Congo River. This means long journeys and high transportation costs the health center could not afford, which led to frequent vaccine stock outs in the past.
Strengthening the health system
In response to this challenge, VillageReach worked with the Ministry of Health on the Next-Generation Immunization Supply Chain (NexGen iSC) program, to strengthen the health system and get health products delivered directly to health centers like Konongo. Now Jean Louis has the time and confidence to visit and monitor all the vaccination sites in surrounding villages to ensure that every child has access to quality vaccines. He is a champion for the NexGen iSC program and is known among nurses as a leader, motivator, mentor and coach.

“Vaccination is guided by international and national standards related to vaccine management, storage, transportation and use. My role during the site visit is to check, remind and ensure that those standards…

Delivering on a Promise: Improved Data Helps Protect the Boso-Mbuki Community

I had the privilege of meeting Ruphin Ndumbala on my recent visit to Equateur province, DRC. Ruphin is one of the many frontline health workers who go above and beyond to ensure vaccines reach every last child. Recently, he made a promise, and I was honored enough to see him deliver.

“I used to spend at least two days’ roundtrip to collect vaccines.” Ruphin spoke outside of his clinic in rural Equateur province. “It was a big concern for my family that I was leaving behind, but also for the patients I was leaving unattended.”

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, vaccines must traverse a long journey to reach health workers like Ruphin. First, they are transported from the central level to provincial storage sites, where health workers from the surrounding health centers come to retrieve them. Ruphin, a registered nurse, works in Boso-Mbuki health center which is 71 miles away from the closest storage site. In a car, the distance may not seem long, but with very limited transportation options this journey is a hard one. To get to Boso-Mbuki, you must first take a canoe to Inkanza village and from there walk down a narrow path…

Achievements Worth Celebrating!

Stories coming from Lolanga-Mampoko district in Equateur province often focus on the challenges communities face in accessing health care. I see these challenges every day and work with partners to help communities overcome them. But not all of our stories are about challenges. For this African Vaccination Week, we are celebrating what we have achieved over the past year.

The initiative NGCA (Next Generation of Supply Chain or Nouvelle Generation de la Chaine d’Approvisionement in French) helped to turn around the situation in Lolanga-Mampoko. With supply chain improvements came increased availability of vaccines at local storage sites. This in turn enables health workers to increase the number of routine vaccination sessions and vaccination outreach. There are three notable changes:

We have more than doubled vaccination sessions, which is among the key indicators of health district performance. While in 2016 there were less than 100 vaccination sessions completed, in 2017 we achieved over 200. These include both fixed and advanced strategies, where health workers organize strategies to find even one child who is not coming to the health center.
In 2016, the health district was in Category 2 for the quality and accessibility of services. In 2017, it…

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…

Histoire du Centre de Santé Monzambi

Depuis plus de 14 ans, nous allons prendre les vaccins au dépôt du Bureau central de la Zone de santé situé à 135 kilomètres d’ici par pirogue à ramer et le voyage dure 4 jours au moins.

Quand nous rentrons avec les intrants au niveau du centre de santé ici à Monzambi, on arrive très épuisés par le voyage qui exige beaucoup d’effort à fournir mais, malheureusement, on ne ramène en plus que des vaccins virés ou en voie de l’être à cause de l’interruption de la chaîne de froid puisque nous transportons ces intrants avec des boîtes isothermes dans lesquelles nous mettons les accumulateurs.
Cet appui de VillageReach nous permet de nous occuper aisément de nos malades, d’économiser nos énergies et d’améliorer nos stratégies de vaccination.
Une bonne chose nous est arrivée maintenant depuis le mois de juillet 2017: VillageReach appui régulièrement le transport des intrants de bonne qualité en bonne quantité et dans les bonnes conditions depuis l’antenne provinciale du Programme élargi de vaccination (PEV). Cet appui de VillageReach nous permet de nous occuper aisément de nos malades, d’économiser…

A Masterpiece in Progress: Seeing the Bigger Picture through Supply Chain Modeling

Through my work optimizing supply chains, I have truly come to realize the importance of looking at “the big picture.” If every detail matters in the effective operation of a supply chain, it is also critical to connect the dots and understand how functions interact. Getting health products to remote health centers is no straightforward endeavor—there are many complex steps and processes involved that can make it difficult to visualize the larger, connected system.

Supply chain modeling not only creates the big picture representation of a country’s existing supply chain, it also provides an opportunity to see how changes to one component can affect the overall capabilities of the supply chain. Modeling software makes it easier to process large, diffuse, unrelated data into meaningful interconnected performance indicators. Supply chain managers can get a different look at their supply chains, see the impact of their investments, and consider when and how to improve performance from several angles.

There are many ways a country can achieve a properly functional, affordable and sustainable vaccine supply chain. And if there’s been one recurring lesson from my supply chain work across Africa, it is that one size never fits all. A one…

On Road and River: Distributions begin in DRC

I am proud to announce that last month a team composed of provincial government and VillageReach staff successfully conducted the first direct distribution of vaccines and family planning commodities in the Equateur Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Under the Next Generation Supply Chain Initiative, this constitutes a major milestone worth celebrating. It represents more than a year of planning and advocacy to engage government leaders and partners (UNICEF, ECC CORDAID, SANRU, OMS, and Croix Rouge) to take bold steps toward change to ensure more reliable delivery of vaccines and other essential health commodities to “the last mile”, often the most remote and hard-to-reach communities in DRC.

Between July 21 and August 3, the team traveled by motorbike, truck and boat, covering 1,724 kilometers across three health zones: Bolomba, Lolanga-Mampoko, and Mankanza, supplying 30 storage facilities with enough vaccines to cover the needs of 58 health centers for over a month, serving a population of 542,514. One health zone also received family planning products in the same distribution. Evidence from our work in DRC will demonstrate how resource sharing across supply chains can contribute to greater efficiencies and more reliable access to health products…

Collaboration: The Key to Successful Supply Chain Transformation in DRC

At the 2017 African Union Summit, Heads of State endorsed the Addis Declaration on Immunization, which demonstrates convincing political support to improve equitable access to vaccines.  Now countries must embrace the hard work required to deliver immunizations and other health commodities to all citizens. Only when governments lead with a strong vision, supported by donors and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in a collaborative effort, will large-scale impact be achievable. In places like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), new approaches are bringing the government together with these groups – and seeing greater collaboration between donors in support of government efforts.

Leaders in the DRC have committed to overhauling the country’s dozens of supply chains, developing a highly-functioning, efficient system capable of reaching even the most remote populations. The terrain and sheer size of the DRC make this uniquely challenging. Health officials recognize that traditional supply chain models are not sufficient, and are actively seeking new approaches. But they cannot do it alone. VillageReach is one of many organizations supporting the government’s quest to develop, test, implement and scale strategies that can improve this essential mechanism for providing healthcare.

In 2015, the DRC Ministry of Health wanted greater…

Waiting for Immunization No Longer

Version française

As someone who has dedicated his life to public health, I am thrilled to see Africa’s leaders making a bold commitment in support of immunization. The African Union endorsement of the  Addis Declaration on Immunization (ADI) demonstrates that vaccines, and the proper health systems to deliver them, play a significant role in the future of our continent.

Measles and many other diseases preventable by vaccination have a devastating potential. Even a few years ago, rural communities had a saying: to know how many children you have in your household, wait for the measles. Measles epidemics have decimated children in times past. This was the case of the Mankanza territory in the province of Equateur, located 220km from the provincial capital, Mbandaka, and accessible only by water. Many, many children were buried because the measles vaccine had not yet come to their communities until 1996. The few survivors can still recall the impact of these measles epidemics. Even with sub-optimal immunization coverage, once the vaccine came, no epidemics occurred.

Many remote communities like Equateur province, where I am responsible for administrative management of the health system, continue to ensure the vaccination of children to prevent under…

Global Thinking: The 2016 Global Health Supply Chain Summit

The annual Global Health Supply Chain Summit brings together supply chain professionals from all over the globe to discuss and share important trends in global health and the supply chains that support global health efforts. Last year, the big ideas from the event reinforced critical components of our work to improve health supply chains: public-private partnerships, system design, and data for management.
This year’s summit provided another great opportunity for VillageReach and our ministry partners to share our experiences, to learn from others, and to identify important trends shaping the global health supply chain community. The VillageReach team reflects on some of these trends below.

The Meaning of Integration

The theme of this year’s summit was “integrating global health supply chains for sustainable health outcomes” – a hot topic as governments and donors try to find efficient ways to share resources across traditionally vertical supply chains. But the meaning of integration is not always clear:

Olivier Defawe, Senior Manager: Integration does not necessarily mean integrating a whole vertical supply chain with another vertical supply chain. By explaining the notion of integration as “opportunistic resource sharing,” participants walked away with a broader concept of integration. It is also important…

Laying the Groundwork in DRC

For the past month, I’ve been in Democratic Republic of Congo working to further establish and expand VillageReach’s presence in the country. I’ve also been preparing for a workshop to present the preliminary results of a supply chain modeling exercise that will help key stakeholders identify opportunities for improvement. In the process, I’ve been making the rounds to all our partners, and a key question about our work keeps coming up:
What is taking so long?!?

It’s true: VillageReach began work here in 2015 with an evaluation of the health supply chain in Equatuer and Tshuapa Provinces, and we have been studying the public health supply chain ever since. We aren’t expecting to implement any on-the-ground activities to improve supply chain performance for another six months, when we will begin with a small-scale pilot. So what have we been doing here for the past year and a half? Great question.
We’ve been using a system design approach  to identify and understand the persistent challenges that prevent vaccines and medicines from getting to patients at the right time, in the right quantity, and in good condition. System design is a process…

Head-Breaker: The Vaccine Supply Chain in Equateur

In 2015, VillageReach conducted an assessment of the public health supply chain in two of the most remote and underserved provinces of Democratic Republic of the Congo, the provinces of Equateur and Tshuapa. The results show that the health supply chain is a “casse-tête,” literally, a “head-breaker” – something so complicated and challenging it makes everyone’s head hurt. Equateur Province in particular presents daunting logistic challenges: not only is it isolated, but the “highway” in this region is the mighty Congo River. Medicines must first be transported on a plane or boat from the capital, Kinshasa to the provincial capital, Mbandaka, then another 10 days by boat to reach the zonal health office. From here, medicines are distributed by canoe, motorcycle, bicycle or on foot to the health centers that serve the local communities and sometimes even further, directly to where patients live.

In addition, the limited cell phone coverage (not to mention electricity) outside of Mbandaka creates a headache for health workers struggling to find out if the medicines they need are in stock. With frequent stockouts, it is not uncommon for health workers to make the long journey for supplies only to return empty handed…

Championing the Next Generation of Immunization Supply Chains in West Africa

In 2014, Africa.com published a list of the 10 jobs that will be the most sought in Africa in the near future. It comes as no surprise that logistics and supply chain management related jobs made it to the list, identifying supply chain managers as a driving force of economic growth in Africa.

After attending the recent Immunization Supply Chain Leadership Conference in Abidjan, I felt that this was also true for the public health sector. The eleven African countries represented were all speaking with one voice: they need the right person at the right place to lead the next generation of immunization supply chains (iSC).

Universal vaccine access is a global health necessity in Africa, as vaccination is one of the most effective ways to prevent the deaths of millions of children. Rightfully, Ministers of Health all over the continent gathered in Addis Ababa in February to reinforce their commitment to expand vaccine access to every person on the continent. Recognizing this goal cannot be achieved without proper supply chains or supply chain managers, conference participants built on this commitment to develop a Call to Action requesting stronger engagement of decision makers to create a favorable environment for…

2015: Year In Review

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

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