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USAID and VillageReach Data Burden Study image

Decreasing the Data Burden at the Last Mile to Improve Data Management and Use for Stronger Pharmaceutical Systems

August 24, 2015

Governments and their partners are acutely aware of the need for innovative ways to reduce the data burden on health workers. With support from the US Agency for International Development-funded Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) Program, VillageReach conducted a review of data management and use practices, particularly with respect to pharmaceuticals, in Malawi and Swaziland to better define and quantify the data burden facing health workers. This brief provides both context for and an articulation of the data burden seen within health systems in LMICs. It also provides recommendations for ways that ministries of health, donors, and implementing partners can rethink their approach to data management to improve health service delivery.

Blog

Building Stronger Community Health Systems Together

Originally posted on medium.com.
In rural and remote communities around the world, people have to walk for hours or even days to reach the nearest clinic to access services and medicines, which may not even be available when they arrive. A people-centered health system looks beyond health facilities to move vital health products more directly to people, wherever they live. Last Mile Health and VillageReach share a commitment to ensuring every person can access the health care they need — no matter where they live.

Why Community Health Workers
Community health workers are recruited from their own community to serve the daily health needs of their neighbors. However, they often aren’t equipped with appropriate quantities of medicines or supplies. Funding shortages mean health products are often purchased in limited quantities. Additionally, when products are purchased, they are then packaged and distributed in bulk to health facilities based on the quantity available — not based on the facilities’ actual demand. This results in overstocking at certain facilities, leading to waste at some facilities and shortages at others. Community health workers, who are restocked with supplies from the health facilities, can ultimately be left with fewer health products to treat patients…

Supply chains: The lifeline for getting PPE to community health workers

Supply chains are the lifeline getting PPE to community health workers.

Getting to Work: Accurate Data to Reach 100%

World Immunization Week is a perfect time to reflect on global priorities and our commitment to the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP). This framework guides the work of organizations around the world to reach every child with life-saving vaccines. It is also a way to measure our collective success. Accurately measuring our progress against GVAP targets is central to moving the needle globally, but we need to be confident in the data.

I recently heard a ministry official summarize the challenges to increasing immunization in an area suspected to have a high number of unimmunized children. This was very different from the story told by the numbers. The administrative coverage rates (based on census numbers and the reported number of administered vaccine doses) for the region were well over 100%. Surveys designed to provide a baseline comparison in the same area reported lower numbers, but the data still showed surprisingly high coverage – above 80%. People at this meeting quickly said they were ‘tired’ of hearing about coverage rates because of the well-known data quality issues. This frustration with data quality has echoed at nearly every immunization stakeholder meeting I’ve attended. Clearly inaccurate data is less meaningful – and…

OpenLMIS Version 3 - A Global Achievement

Reposted from OpenLMIS

The release of OpenLMIS version 3 is truly something to celebrate – it is the result of an extraordinary collaboration of organizations and individuals around the world.

Teams from multiple countries contributed technical requirements, defined business processes, and wrote countless hours of code for the latest iteration of OpenLMIS, a powerful, enterprise class logistics management information system (LMIS).

The OpenLMIS Initiative’s mission is to make a high quality, powerful LMIS software available in low-resource environments – providing high-quality logistics management to improve health commodity distribution in low- and middle-income countries. OpenLMIS increases data visibility, helping supply chain managers identify and respond to commodity needs, particularly at health facilities where lack of data significantly impacts the availability of key medicines and vaccines.

Over the last year, software development teams led by VillageReach in the U.S. and SolDevelo in Poland completely redesigned the core software architecture of OpenLMIS, using a micro-service approach to create a more flexible and extensible architecture.

As of today, an initial set of services is now accessible under this new architecture, providing users a high degree of customization without changing the core code. Users can choose which features they want to…

Driven by Data

In 1972, The UN General Assembly agreed to mark October 24 each year as World Development Information Day in order to draw the world’s attention to development problems and the need to strengthen international cooperation to solve them. The Assembly felt that improving the dissemination of information would lead to greater awareness of the problems of development, and thus, promote efforts in the sphere of international cooperation for development.
At VillageReach, the last mile of delivery is the first mile of information. Data is the pulse that drives our work – the fundamental core of our programming strategy. Without information, we are working in a state of assumptions and half-truths, and fervently hoping we are right. Want evidence of this principle? Of the four blog posts we published this month alone, three focus directly on information – what goes into collecting it, the insight it provides, and an example of how it all comes together!

World Development Information Day’s aim it is to ultimately promote efforts in the sphere of international cooperation for development by means of information. VillageReach embraced that spirit fully while participating in the global working group on data for management of the immunization supply chain…

Keeping the Wheels of Change Moving

Transformational change does not always happen overnight. In the case of immunization supply chains (iSC), real transformational change requires iteration. It is a process of continuous improvement: cycles of thinking, testing, and improving to constantly push the system forward. While the final result might be a complete redesign of the end-to-end supply chain, each step along the way is a necessary part of getting to a better model. Sometimes the wheels of change move quickly, when political will is aligned with resources and capacity. Sometimes the wheels move more slowly, during phases of learning and refining new ways of doing things. With any large-scale change, the key is to never stop moving forward.

With our partner, Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ), VillageReach recently facilitated an immunization supply chain system design workshop – a first big push towards moving the iSC model forward in Zambia. A week full of dialogue and sharing helped introduce concepts like modeling, build stakeholder buy-in, and “grease the wheels” of inspiration. Participants brainstormed new ideas for both immediate and long-term changes, including a few “crazy” ones. Some of these ideas are already well-defined; others require further development before…

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…

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…

Realizations on the Road to Reforming Immunization Supply Chains

In 2013, the Gates Foundation began working with five provincial governments in Mozambique, the national ministry of health, and VillageReach on a new system for delivering vaccines. The new system represented big changes over their current design. It takes a holistic approach – reconfiguring the transport system, re-assigning roles and responsibilities of personnel, obtaining and using data differently, and integrating supervision and cold chain maintenance into monthly vaccine distributions.

Data, Dashboards and Decisions – The Components of Building a Better Supply Chain

A blog about the expansion of OpenLMIS (SELV) in Mozambique and our expanding role in advocating for better data visibility and analytics as a key component of vaccine supply chain improvement.

Testing Innovation in the Field - SELV

When I facilitated a week-long training in Maputo in June this year, the excitement I felt about SELV and the positive changes it could bring about was reflected in the faces and attitudes of everyone present in the room.

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