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Spring Newsletter

Notes From The President
May 2010

Greetings and welcome to Spring.  Recently we have been focused on planning for the new year to ensure we have sufficient organizational capacity and technical capabilities to cultivate and execute our expanding base of programs. VillageReach has added several new staff for our health programs and to improve our overall operational capacity.  See below for details of these exceptional and committed professionals.

The investments we’re making to improve our capabilities are not simply limited to increasing our staff.  For more than a year we have worked to enhance vrMIS, our management information system, and recently announced an update.  vrMIS is an important component of the VillageReach model, enabling us to conduct programs efficiently and at a large scale.  Health systems we support are able to efficiently capture and report on available supplies of medicines and other medical commodities in the field, and to monitor how effectively they are distributed to gauge progress in the performance of the program.   The updated vrMIS represents a quantum leap from our previous solution.  It has been designed to leverage the growing reach of internet connectivity and cellular networks in order to create a much more dynamic and responsive tracking and distribution process for health systems. See details of our announcement.

These investments will enable us to serve more communities and ensure lasting benefit for very challenged health systems. I hope you will consider contributing to VillageReach to further our mission.

Thank you for your support and best wishes.

-Allen Wilcox

VillageReach Has Been Hiring!

VillageReach spends the great majority of its time working on its various country health programs.   But as we have noted, we’re also working to improve the effectiveness of our model and tools that enable us to be more effective and efficient in our work.  As we receive new program requests, we are requiring additional people and new processes to support this increase in scale.

In response we have made several new exciting appointments.

Emily Bancroft joins us as a program manager, responsible for the design, development and management of new programs.  She has over a decade of experience in program management, monitoring and evaluation, community-based assessment, health informatics, and program development.  Most recently, Emily worked on health worker capacity building and health system strengthening programs in Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda. Before VillageReach, Emily worked with the International Training and Education Center on Health (I-TECH), Physicians for Human Rights, and NPower.
Tom Martin joined us in February as director of operations and chief financial officer. Tom has worked in the non profit sector for more than 20 years, most recently with Health Alliance International.  During his career he has also served in a variety of development and operation roles at Mercy Corps, CARE India, and Grameen Technology Center.

Ethan Wong  is VillageReach’s new operations assistant, replacing Becca Miller, who many of you may have contacted.  Becca recently left VillageReach to enroll in the MBA program at Yale.  Ethan is managing our administrative operations and works with Tom on our budgeting process.   Previous to joining VillageReach, He served as director of financial operations for an online retailer and as a senior personal banker at Bank of America.

We are very excited to have these talented professionals join the team and are looking forward to their contributions to our mission.

Program Update – Nigeria

Early in 2010 VillageReach began work on a new project in Nigeria.  To prepare for a large malaria control program, VillageReach has been retained to assess the current supply chain and logistics systems at a national level.    Each year, 250 million new malaria cases are reported around the globe.  Each day, as many as 3,000 children die.

The focus of the team’s work concerns evaluating the country’s ability to absorb more than 10  million easily administered diagnostic tests and 50 million anti-malarial drugs.  Members of the VillageReach team have already spent two months on the ground in the country, working in the field to evaluate current distribution practices and gaps in the supporting infrastructure that might impede efficient delivery of materials for the program. Working with several partners, we are working on the final report that will pave the way for the start of the distribution phase this spring.

The Significance Of Monitoring And Evaluation For Global Health Programs

Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) has been integral to our approach and has proven to be immensely valuable to our mission. The impact evaluation and cost study of our demonstration project in Mozambique provided compelling evidence to support our advocacy for policy change at a national level and we have been given the opportunity to expand program nationally as a result.

VillageReach’s M&E for Mozambique takes two forms: 
1) ongoing monitoring and analysis of performance indicators through the management information system and
2) full baseline and end-line impact evaluations conducted for each province. 
As we expand nationally, we will be conducting a rigorous baseline evaluation in each province. The evaluation will include assessing current provincial-level immunization coverage rates, current status of health system indicators such as frequency of stock-outs and wastage rates of vaccines and rapid diagnostic tests (RDTS), current usage of these RDTs, and cost studies of the logistics and distribution systems. All of the information gained is used within Mozambique to refine and improve the program while measuring its results.

VillageReach is also conducting a similar impact evaluation of our program in Malawi. Through household surveys, health center data, and national reports, VillageReach is able to measure our success in reducing the incidence of malaria and diarrhea in the country’s Kwitanda community. In addition to ongoing monthly indicators, the evaluation will provide valuable information to assess and refine our program activities and outcomes. 

In this Newsletter:

VillageReach recently began a new project to help expand the distribution of propane to households in northern Mozambique. Peter Nakamura, a young business student working in the country, has been supporting the program and is actively blogging on its progress. Please check it out!
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