This press release is reprinted from the Gavi website
Geneva, 15 August 2018 – Millions of people living in remote areas across Liberia, Uganda, and Kenya will get support to access lifesaving vaccines thanks to a new partnership between Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, The Audacious Project, Last Mile Health and Living Goods.
The new partnership will provide a combined US $18 million to Last Mile Health and Living Goods’ Audacious Project to boost the number of community health workers and integrate immunisation information and data-capture into their daily routines. The new funding will help give over 8 million people access to vaccines, while the partnership as a whole aims to deploy 50,000 community health workers to serve 34 million people by 2021.
CLOSING IMMUNISATION GAPS
The health workers will be equipped with smartphones that can capture the immunisation status of every child in real time with a time-stamped GPS identifier, send automated vaccination reminders by SMS and use real-time data to help pinpoint and close immunisation gaps. This system enables governments to optimise the performance of thousands of far-flung health workers in real time.
“One of the toughest jobs in global health is reaching remote communities that live hours or even days away from their nearest skilled healthcare provider,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “With more than 19 million children worldwide still without access to vaccines, this is a challenge we have to tackle. This partnership could make a real difference, giving community health workers the technology and know-how they need to help the hardest-to-reach access lifesaving vaccines.”
“We are thrilled that Gavi is joining forces with the Audacious Project partners,” said Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group. “We’ve been so honoured to work with Last Mile Health and Living Goods as they mobilise 50,000 health workers to serve over 34m people. This new partnership with Gavi will ensure that lifesaving vaccines will increase the impact of this exciting initiative even further.”
Last Mile Health and Living Goods have partnered with governments for more than a decade to design, refine, and scale integrated community health worker programming that is rooted in sustainable public sector ownership. Gavi will work with Ministry of Health partners in Kenya, Uganda, and Liberia to leverage the countries’ existing community health worker platforms to improve immunisation coverage through digitally-enabled community health workers. Based in the communities they serve, these health workers are trained, deployed and paid to provide lifesaving health services at the community level.
The US$ 18 million in new funding will also help transform how community health workers learn through the Community Health Academy, launched by Last Mile Health with the 2017 TED Prize. The Community Health Academy supports Ministries of Health to offer free smartphone-based training courses for community health workers, as well as management courses on topics including immunisation for a global audience of policymakers and program managers of community health worker programs through a partnership with EdX and Harvard University.
In addition, the funding will enable Living Goods to double its base of community health workers in Kenya and Uganda over the next two years from 5,000 to 10,000, and extend immunisation counselling and referral services to an estimated 8 million people.
The new immunisation-focused activities will complement existing efforts educating, diagnosing, treating and referring patients on diseases that affect children in their first 1,000 days, including malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea, along with family planning, maternal health and nutrition services. Living Goods will also advise governments on how to further scale community-based vaccination programs, roll out new vaccines such as for Human Papillomavirus (HPV), the leading cause of cervical cancer, and shape immunisation budgeting and strategy development.
With the support of Gavi, Last Mile Health and the Liberia Ministry of Health plan to introduce 500 community health workers serving more than 100,000 people across two counties. This project will inform the strategy for delivering immunisation services throughout Liberia via Liberia’s National Community Health Assistant (CHA) Program, which has deployed more than 3,000 community health workers to serve more than 700,000 hard to reach people.
Through the Gavi partnership, the Liberian Government, with support from Last Mile Health, aims to achieve immunisation rates of at least 90% through integration with this national program. By 2021, the National CHA Program will serve all 1.2 million people in Liberia who live more than five kilometres from the nearest health facility.
“While the world has seen massive increases in immunisation coverage over the past two decades, thanks in large part to Gavi’s investments, progress has not reached the last mile,” says Dr Raj Panjabi, CEO of Last Mile Health. “We are deeply grateful to partner with Gavi to assist the Government of Liberia to close immunisation equity gaps. Integrated models like the Liberia’s national frontline health worker program hold the key to saving lives and ensuring healthy futures for children around the world.”
“Living Goods specialises in empowering Community Health Workers with smart mobile tools that enable us to track and verify the immunisation status of every child in real time, send automated timed vaccination reminders, and use live GPS data to pinpoint gaps and target outreach,” said Chuck Slaughter, Living Goods’ Founder and Chairman of the Board. “We are excited to partner with Gavi, Last Mile Health and the forward-thinking governments of Uganda and Kenya through The Audacious Project to help bring the miracle of vaccines to everychild.”
COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKER IMPACT
A randomised control trial carried out by Innovations for Poverty Action with funding from the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation found that Living Goods-supported community health workers in Uganda reduced under five mortality by 27%, stunting by 7%, and the number of counterfeit goods on the market by 50%. They also had an impact on local private pharmacies, where the added competition helped reduce prices by 17%.
In the regions Last Mile Health serves, community health workers have increased the odds of children receiving life-saving treatments by 50%. The controlled study released in the American Journal of Public Health shows Liberia’s National Community Health Assistant Program can effectively increase treatment and care for Liberia’s most vulnerable children.
Gavi will provide US$ 9 million to the partnership, US$ 5.5 million of which will go to Living Goods and US$ 3.5 million to Last Mile Health, which will then be matched dollar-for-dollar by funders from The Audacious Project, a ground-breaking coalition of funders that includes the Skoll Foundation, Virgin Unite, The ELMA Foundation, The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, and others. The Audacious Project has a matching fund of up to US$ 50 million available for Living Goods and Last Mile Health. In addition to Gavi’s commitment, UBS has committed to make up to US$ 10 million available on a 1:2 matching basis with clients, bringing in a potential US$ 30 million to the partnership. The Audacious Project is housed at TED, where it was launched in April this year.