A note from the Project Last Mile Team

The COVID-19 crisis has brought health systems into the spotlight. It has exposed vulnerabilities and pulled the value of strong, flexible and resilient health systems and supply chains into sharper focus. This has become particularly visible among vulnerable populations in Africa where the availability of medicines and the uptake of health services are often poor.

While the pandemic seems to have changed almost everything, it has not changed our mandate to support our donor partners and governments to build stronger health systems across Africa by leveraging private sector best practices, tools, and networks from the Coca-Cola system. The strategic support of all our partners has bolstered Project Last Mile in its efforts to reach our goal of transforming health systems to reach the last mile more effectively. In 2020, a sixth member – the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) – joined the Project Last Mile partnership, expanding the commitment to propel Project Last Mile into its next phase of work – the “Next Mile”.

Over the last decade, Project Last Mile has delivered 18 programs across 10 countries, with active programs in five countries in 2020, and three pipeline programs slated to kick off in 2021. This report will highlight our work in supply chain strengthening, strategic marketing, and our COVID-19 response in 2020. Throughout 2020, our long-standing route-to-market work in South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania and Sierra Leone continued and scaled. Our work using private sector strategic marketing experience to increase the uptake of health services continued in Eswatini and expanded to new heights in South Africa – with two national-scale campaigns launched in partnership with the National Department of Health (NDoH).

Inevitably, the COVID-19 crisis has presented a diverse range of challenges to our teams and partners across Africa. However, it has also created opportunities for Project Last Mile to leverage our expertise to contribute to government efforts in fighting the pandemic. In the face of COVID-19, Project Last Mile has supported donor partners and African governments in catalyzing local production of personal protective equipment (PPE), developed targeted communications on COVID-19 prevention, and supported partners in supply planning to reduce disruptions in critical medicines supply during the pandemic. Project Last Mile also conducted a feasibility assessment of liquid carbon dioxide capabilities within the Coca-Cola system to support planning for ultra-cold chain vaccine distribution across 70 countries in Africa, Latin America, and the Pacific Islands. We anticipate supporting a broader range of COVID-19 efforts in 2021.

Through and beyond COVID-19, the need remains as strong as ever to ensure that life-saving medicines and health services are consistently available down to the last mile for all who need them.

View the report below:

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