I have been back now for just over a week, from my trip with Coca-Cola to Tanzania. It was a trip that has left me inspired and humbled. It has given me fresh insight into the world. It has also renewed my faith in the power of coming together to achieve a common goal. Tanzania is a beautiful country, with amazing people living within it. It was a real honour to be asked to see the projects that Coca-Cola was involved in, in Tanzania and around the world in other developing countries.
I am going to be producing three posts, that cover the three projects that I saw whilst I was over there – Project Last Mile, 5by20 and Ekocenter.
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania – From the Zanzibar Ferry
Project Last Mile
This initiative, called “Project Last Mile,” uses the Coca-Cola system’s logistic, supply chain and marketing expertise to help improve health systems across Africa in a sustainable way.
I’m going to fast forward my Project Last Mile story to my plane ride back. I chatted to the man I sat next to on the plane ride home. He was a Malaria specialist, someone who was gathering research data. He travels to Tanzania for a month at a time, twice a year. I told him about why I had been on this trip, and in more detail about Project Last Mile, as I thought it was a topic that would be interesting to him. He nodded enthusiastically and said ‘YES! We have being saying this for years, this is the perfect partnership to get medicines to the more remote places!’
It really is a brilliant partnership! Critical medicines and supplies were not getting to places in Tanzania that needed them…that ‘Last Mile’. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost 50% of people in Africa lack access to essential medicines overall. These medicines were not kept at the correct temperature, became out of date before they reached their destination, or they just plain got lost. The supply chain had not got the correct organisation that was urgently needed. This was the situation before the Project Last Mile partners got on board in 2010 to help the Tanzanian health system medicine distribution.
Project last mile comprises of the Clinton Global Initiative, The Coca-Cola Company, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund), and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
What makes Project Last Mile so amazing I think is that it uses the Coca-Cola system’s logistic, supply chain and marketing expertise to help improve health systems across Africa in a sustainable way. You really can find a bottle of Coca-Cola in the most remote village that you visit, so it just make sense.
For example, government agencies learn how to efficiently deliver vital drugs, medicines and medical supplies; how to better market the availability of these supplies thus creating demand, and how to maintain coolers to ensure the medicines and vaccines are stored at the correct temperatures.
We saw first hand some of the transformations, as we visited with local government and the distribution centre.
The whole distribution system has been completely overhauled. They estimate that there is between 20-30 percent more availability of medicine in clinics now. Instead of dropping off the medicine to 150 drop off points, they now do this directly to more that 5,500 health facilities throughout Tanzania. It has been so incredibly successful, that a representative said that the they could now teach Coca-Cola a thing or two about distribution. Testament to how much they have embraced Project Last Mile. Following this success it has also been expanded into Ghana. I can’t wait to see where this goes next, as it really is a fantastic project, and one that I can see expanding to other resources.
On June 23, 2014, the partners, including The Coca-Cola Company and its Foundations, USAID, the Global Fund, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation committed to investing more than $21 million USD over five years to implement Project Last Mile in eight additional African countries (10 total).