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Living Goods
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Living Goods

Living Goods

Living Goods supports and trains local community health workers (CHWs)--the majority of whom are women--to deliver lifesaving, critical medicines to millions who need it, at an affordable price. In this way, Living Goods aims to transform the way health care is delivered for generations to come, ensuring mothers and children in Kenya and Uganda have access to quality care where they live. Living Goods-supported CHWs focus on preventing and treating the leading causes of child deaths, where solutions are simple and affordable

A study completed by rigorous researcher Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), another recommended charity of The Life You Can Save, found that Living Goods' approach reduced under-5 mortality by 27 percent and infant (under-1) mortality by 33 percent. By the end of 2018, Living Goods, alongside their partners at BRAC, had trained and support nearly 9,000 CHWs, reaching more than seven million people.

The Problem

For impoverished communities around the world, there is a significant shortage of frontline health workers and inadequate distribution of essential health products and knowledge. Half the world lacks access to essential health care. Many health care systems – particularly in developing countries – are chronically under-funded, under-stocked, and understaffed. Stock-out rates for critical medicines at public health facilities routinely exceed 50%, and poorly trained, poorly monitored health outlets are standard. These issues increase in the hardest-to-reach rural communities where need is often greatest. On average, there are currently 2.3 health workers per 1,000 people in Africa, compared to 24 health workers per 1,000 people in the United States. Further, more than 24% of the global burden of disease falls on people living in African countries, where only 3% of the world’s health workers operate, with less than 1% of the world’s financial resources. 

The Solution

Empowering community health workers to reliably and affordably provide care and essential medicines, and products at the doorsteps of millions saves and improves lives. Living Goods addresses two fundamental barriers to accessing health care in developing countries: 1) the significant shortage of frontline health workers; and 2) the inadequate distribution of health products and knowledge. Living Goods-supported CHWs focus on the high-impact areas where they make the biggest difference at a low cost: pregnancy and newborn care, malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea, referring high risk cases, nutrition, immunization and family planning.

How Living Goods is different from other charities

Living Goods uses best practices from public health and business acumen from the private sector to bolster and ensure the effective operations of community health programs. Living Goods believes there are four essential components necessary to effectively strengthen community health programs:

  1. Community health workers are compensated for their work

  2. CHWs receive supervision and effective data-driven performance management

  3. Essential medicines and supplies remain consistently in stock

  4. CHWs are digitally empowered/tech-enabled to allow them to best preform their work

Why Living Goods is effective

Rigorous Evaluation

Living Goods worked with the highly-respected Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) to undertake a randomized controlled trial (RCT)--the gold standard of reliable research--in order to monitor its progress on reducing child mortality. Living Goods second RCT is currently underway. 

Proven and Cost-Effective Results

The randomized controlled trial showed that Living Goods reduced mortality in children under five years old by 27 percent and infant mortality by 33 percent. The organization is extremely cost effective, at an average cost of less than $3 USD per person served, per year. At the end of 2018, along with partner BRAC, Living Goods was supporting nearly 9,000 CHWs, reaching over 7 million people, and aims to support 18,350 CHWs reaching 13.8 million people by the end of 2020.

Keeping Vital Products Affordable

All medicines and health-related products provided by CHWs align with Living Goods’ mission and are procured locally by Living Goods working directly with manufacturers and importers within Kenya and Uganda. By doing this, Living Goods is often able to buy in bulk at reduced cost and bypass middlemen in existing supply chains, keeping costs affordable for the populations they serve. 

Holistic Training

Living Goods provides CHWs with three weeks of initial training on basic health care practices, technical modules on integrated community case management (ICCM) focused on malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhea, and business modules where CHWs learn about the health-related products they sell to generate additional income. Living Goods’ trainers are ICCM specialists - degreed nurses, pharmacy technicians, nutritionists – and managed by medical doctors.

Ongoing Training, Support, and Monitoring

CHWs receive regular updates and attend monthly in-service trainings to refresh and increase their knowledge and confidence. Branch managers visit regularly to monitor performance, review stock, oversee record keeping and ensure that CHWs are effective and supported. Living Goods’ high performance standards help facilitate and maintain community trust.

Mobile Technology

Living Goods co-developed a comprehensive mHealth tool with technology partner Medic Mobil  that allows CHWs to register, track, and follow up with patients, ensuring data-driven performance management. CHWs report on key health activities via the mobile app, allowing real-time data collection and clients can also receive messages on their mobile phones with care reminders. Living Goods closely supervises and monitors CHW performance to ensure they have the support they need and are always in-stock with essential medicines and products.

High Impact

Living Goods’ Accountability and Sustainability

Living Goods is a recommended charity of The Life You Can Save and is listed as a Standout Charity by GiveWell, which awarded it a US$250,000 GiveWell/Goodventures grant.

Their highly approach to supporting community healthl brings together best practices from micro-finance, entrepreneurship, franchising, and health maintenance and taps into existing community health systems by supporting local community health workers reach households in dense urban slums, peri-urban, and rural areas, 70% of which reside more than five kilometers from the nearest health facility.

The organization shares documentation, tools, and methods to strengthen health systems. It supports governments to strengthen and professionalize their community health systems. It operates at the community level through government-recognized community health workers and advocates at the national level to strengthen entire primary health care (PHC) systems. By providing technical assistance to governments, Living Goods strives to build capacity of partners to build strong PHC foundations, ensuring all children and their families are able to access lifesaving care, when and where they need it. It strengthens existing systems by digitally empowering government CHWs, who focus on educating, assessing, treating, and referring clients for basic health challenges that are easily treatable at a low cost within their communities.

Living Goods works in partnership with well-respected organizations such as BRAC, CARE, and Population Services International (PSI).

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to support community health workers and what is the cost to provide care annually?

The net cost (including in-country overheads) of supporting one active CHW in Kenya and Uganda averages approximately US$1,279 per year. Living Goods' approach to providing health care in Kenya and Uganda is incredibly cost-effective, at an average cost of less than $3 USD per person served, per year.

Why would the extreme poor pay for medicine that might be free in government hospitals, or that they could buy elsewhere?

Although some medicines are free of charge from Uganda’s healthcare system, the facilities that provide them have high stock-out rates, and travelling to a facility often involves unaffordable expense and hours of travel. Medicines sold privately at local drugstores are often counterfeit or too cost-prohibitive for the populations Living Goods serves. Living Goods offers genuine, essential medicines and health-related products at below-market prices, delivered right to people’s doors– saving time, money, and lives.


What is the scale and reach of Living Goods-supported community health workers?

At the end of 2018, Living Goods and its partners (including BRAC) supported  nearly 9,000 active CHWs who reached over 7 million people. In 2018, Living Goods registered over 178,000 new pregnancies, assessed 1.46+ million children under five, and more than 306,00 children under 1 in Kenya and Uganda. Living Goods will continue to scale its operations, working closely to develop strong relationships with government partners and provide an increasing level of technical assistance. In the next few years, Living Goods will expand into two additional countries, and aims to reach 13.8 million people by supporting 18,350 CHWs by the end of 2020.

How do communities view Living Goods' community health workers?

Sauda Baubidia, 28, says that her work with Living Goods "has moved me from zero to a hero...because I have saved them," she said. "I saved lives for their kids." Pouline Nasuna, a CHW in Uganda, says, “I always wanted to be a nurse or health practitioner, but never had money for the studies, so when this opportunity came about, I jumped at it. Before, my income was never enough. So the extra income I get as a CHW of about US$60 per month is very important. I can now afford school fees, rent and food. My job as a Living Goods CHW has helped me and my family so much… It gives me great respect in the community and it makes me so proud when I see the impact I have on my community. ”

Why does The Life You Can Save recommend Living Goods?

We recommend Living Goods because they have been named a Standout Charity by GiveWell, a highly respected charity evaluator.

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