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Project Last Mile

Project Last Mile

Leveraging the Coca-Cola system to deliver life-saving medicines across Africa.

In Mozambique, where over 70% of the population lives in rural and remote areas, communities are often cut off from essential public infrastructure and health services.

“Seeing a sick patient leave without receiving any medication, without treating them makes me sad,” says Lizete Mulieca, a maternity nurse working in a rural health facility in Zambezia province, Mozambique.

But now thanks to Project Last Mile, a powerful cross-sector partnership, far-flung communities are getting access to medicines to treat the most devastating of diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

The programme is a unique partnership between The Coca-Cola Company, the Coca-Cola Foundation, USAID, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Project Last Mile leverages and shares The Coca-Cola Company’s reach and know-how to support what public health departments are already doing to get medicines to the public and strengthen health systems.

While governments and donors across Africa have made progress in getting medicines into African countries and making them more affordable, government supply chains often struggle to get medicines to the ‘last mile’ – to the health facilities where people collect them.

Project Last Mile helps build the capacity of public health system supply chains and marketing by sharing the expertise of the Coca-Cola system in African countries. The partnership’s initial goal is to improve the availability of life-saving medicines in 10 African countries by 2020.

“Almost every person knows the Coca-Cola brand and could probably find one of Coca-Cola’s range of products close by. For the past few years, we have tapped into this expertise to assist Governments in several African countries to ensure life-saving medicines are consistently available and that key health services, such as HIV testing, are sought after by the community,” says Adrian Ristow, project director for Project Last Mile.

Through Project Last Mile, Coca-Cola’s expertise in distribution, logistics and marketing is shared to build governments’ capability and systems to save lives in the fight against diseases such as HIV, TB and malaria, as well as those that can be prevented through child immunisation.

Optimising distribution routes in Mozambique

In Mozambique, Project Last Mile has rolled out programmes to optimise distribution routes for life-saving medicines. Best practices in logistics are applied, following a similar process to that which Coca-Cola uses to map distribution for its products. This blueprint helps to improve delivery and increase the availability of medicines for people in hard-to-reach areas. 

Project Last Mile in Mozambique has up until April 2019, successfully visited and mapped the locations of 950 (60%) of the total health facilities across six provinces in Mozambique – Gaza, Inhambane, Tete, Zambezia, Nampula and Sofala. The remaining four provinces will be visited and mapped over the next 12 months. 

The programme optimises route-to-market logistics and delivery plans to streamline the government’s medicine warehouse and delivery system. Improving the distribution and storage of life-saving medicines can have a big impact on improving access to those who need it most.

Encouraging young people
to use health services in eSwatini

In eSwatini, Project Last Mile is partnering with the eSwatini Ministry of Health to inspire and educate young girls to make their health – body and mind – a top priority. eSwatini has the highest HIV prevalence amongst adults worldwide. In 2017, 27.4% of those between 15-49 years old were living with HIV. In the same year, women in the 15-24 age group were five times more likely to be living with HIV, compared to men of the same age.

By leveraging Coca-Cola’s expertise in strategic marketing and talent management, Project Last Mile supports the government’s drive to increase demand for HIV prevention, treatment and care. A team which included the Ministry of Health, the National Emergency Response Council on HIV and AIDS, and leading brand agency, FCB, developed a world-class communications campaign known as Girl Champ, where adolescent girls and young women are encouraged to utilise healthcare services.

Says Ristow: “When the capabilities and expertise of the private sector are intentionally shared and applied to address key bottlenecks in medicine and health service availability, this can contribute to a significant improvement in the efficiency of public health services. We aim to develop a replicable model that inspires more of these types of partnership.”

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Written by IC Publications

IC Publications is one of the world’s leading publishers focusing exclusively on African affairs.

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