Lifesaving Vaccination: 8 Million People Across Africa To Benefit From New Initiative

Some 8 million people living in remote areas in Liberia, Uganda and Kenya will get support to access lifesaving vaccines, as a result of a new partnership between Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Audacious Project, Last Mile Health and Living Goods. The aim is to use digital technology to boost the number of community health workers as well as to integrate immunization information and data-capture into their daily routines.

A community health worker uses a smartphone to collect medical information in Liberia.

The partnership will provide a combined 18 million US dollars to Last Mile Health and Living Good’ Audacious Project, as described in a recent press release from Gavi.

The Audacious Project was launched in April to foster “collaborative philanthropy for bold ideas.” The coalition, housed at the nonprofit TED, is made up of groups such as Skoll Foundation, Virgin Unite, and the Gates Foundation. It surfaces and funds up to five projects annually.

The joint initiative between Living Goods and Last Mile Health is part of the first class of projects. Together, the two organisations are working to make healthcare available to all through mobile technology, and will deploy 50,000 digitally-empowered community health workers to provide lifesaving healthcare to 34 million people across six countries in East and West Africa by 2021.

19 Million Children still without Access to Vaccines

“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,” Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, said in the release. “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.”

Technology to Reach Remote Communities

The health workers will be equipped with smartphones that can capture the immunization 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 immunization gaps.

According to Gavi, this system enables government to optimize the performance of thousands of remote health workers in real time. The new immunization-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 diarrhea, along with family planning, maternal health and nutrition services.

While this new funding will help give over an estimated 8 million people access to vaccines, as mentioned above the partnership as a whole aims to deploy 50,000 community health workers to serve 34 million people by 2021.


Image Credits: Last Mile Health.

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