Project Last Mile is a pioneering cross-sector partnership between USAID, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Global Fund, The Coca-Cola Company and its Foundations, which helps help life-saving medicines go the “last mile” to communities in Africa.
Project Last Mile collaborates with regional Coca-Cola bottlers and suppliers in participating countries to build public health systems capacity in supply chain and strategic marketing by sharing the expertise and network of the Coca-Cola system with the local Ministry of Health. Through its work, Project Last Mile also helps The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) to contribute positively towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and TCCC’s own 2020 goals around Women, Water and Wellness. Here’s how Project Last Mile helps TCCC contribute towards the SDGs:
Goal 1: end extreme poverty
Unexpected healthcare costs cause approximately 100 million people to experience poverty every year. Project Last Mile’s work in building health systems capacity in Africa contributes towards reducing extreme poverty. For example, in South Africa, Project Last Mile’s work with the Department of Health is helping millions of people to save money through providing convenient medicine pick-up points to patients with chronic health conditions. This means patients don’t have to take time off work every month to visit a healthcare facility, which often results in loss of income and discloses their health status. Collecting from a pick-up point instead helps patients save money on transport and frees up medical resources in health facilities.
Goal 3: ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
While governments and donors across Africa have made progress in getting medicines into African countries, these medicines do not always reach the health facilities where they are needed, when they are needed. Sometimes, medicines are available, but the demand for them is minimal, because people do not know about them or the benefits they offer. In Africa, a Coca-Cola product is available almost everywhere on the continent, yet nearly 50% of people lack access to life-saving medicines. Project Last Mile is working to improve the availability of life-saving medicines in Africa, and to increase the demand for public healthcare, by sharing the expertise and network of the Coca-Cola system.
Goal 5: achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
According to USAID, “health programs that address gender barriers improve development outcomes overall.” Project Last Mile’s work helps to build health systems capacity, which benefits women and supports gender equality. For example, in eSwatini (formerly Swaziland), Project Last Mile is working to develop effective demand creation campaigns to encourage healthy behaviors and improve health outcomes around HIV/AIDS, specifically for girls and young women aged 15 to 24.
Goal 9: build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Through Project Last Mile, knowledge sharing between the Coca-Cola system and African Ministries of Health is fostering innovation in public health supply chain and demand creation and helping to build resilient national health systems.
Goal 17: strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development
Project Last Mile’s work is an example of how international support can assist in implementing effective and targeted capacity-building in developing countries to support national plans to implement all the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly in health. By 2020, Project Last Mile will be working to build public health systems capacity to improve health systems management and supply chain efficiencies in 10 African countries. Project Last Mile demonstrates the value of effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of these partnerships.