Spotlight Charity: VillageReach

One of my more popular posts focused on an extraordinary organization, charity:water. I wanted to bring some attention to another group of people that are doing amazing things (and achieving tremendous results): VillageReach. They build medical infrastructure in underserved areas of Africa to ensure delivery of vaccines, medicines, and technology to overcome the “last mile challenges” of delivering  innovations that will benefit the world’s poor.

The Problem
More than 2.4 million children die annually from vaccine-preventable diseases. Families living in rural areas of developing countries lack the medical infrastructure to deliver essential medicines, transport equipment, or provide these life-saving vaccines. Challenges include: maintaining a cold supply chain to keep vaccines from spoiling, optimizing inventory management to prevent drug stock-outs, and overcoming physical and administrative obstacles that prevent delivery of medical supplies.

What They Do
VillageReach improves access to healthcare for remote, underserved communities around the world. In 2001, VillageReach launched their first initiative to ensure universal access to medical supplies in Mozambique. The VillageReach model is now being implemented in 251 health centers covering a population of over 5.2 million people. From their website:

VillageReach’s model improves access to healthcare by providing a logistics platform to facilitate delivery of medical supplies and by starting and managing social businesses to improve local infrastructure. Our solutions and programs are innovative, efficient, collaborative, and sustainable. By implementing its logistics platform through field programs, VillageReach has developed and refined a set of tools and methodologies to allow for efficient replication and customization of its model.

These tools include a management information system (vrMIS) to track inventory of medicines and equipment and generate accurate, updated information about the needs of individual health centers and the communities they serve. This information enables medical supply distribution systems to increase their efficiency and become more effective in reducing diseases and death rates among the world’s most underprivileged.

Check out one of their videos:

The Results They Achieve / GiveWell
GiveWell, an organization that seeks to determine the most efficient way to donate your money (and possesses a very clever tagline) has done a comprehensive analysis of VillageReach’s programs and has determined that they have achieved an impact at under $1000 per infant death inverted. In fact, after reviewing over 400 charities (and recommending less than 3%), GiveWell has ranked VillageReach as the #1-rated charity, achieving the highest ranks in evidence of effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, funding gap, transparency, and monitoring & evaluation programs.

Jeopardy
Remember Ken Jennings? He was the Jeopardy champion that holds the record for the longest winning streak. Well, he’s going toe-to-toe with an IBM computer on Jeopardy on February 14 and guess what charity he is supporting: VillageReach.

More info
Somewhat related, there is an incredible TEDTalk by Sendhil Mullainathan on “Solving social problems with a nudge.” It highlights the importance of behavioral economics in solving social challenges and how the “last mile challenge” can be turned into “last mile opportunities.”

Find out more about the organization and donate here.

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