Back in June (27/6/12), on our first visit to see Zambia’s Minister of Health, the Hon Dr Kasonde, to brief him on ColaLife, he asked us to consider how some of the thinking behind ColaLife could be applied to the problem of supplying Health Posts.
Health Posts are the first level of contact between the Ministry of Health and the people. There are already lots of them (I’m not sure how many) but the government has pledged to establish another 650 so that no citizen is more than 5km away from a Health Post.
This is a huge commitment. Health Assistants are being training to run these Health Posts but there is anxiety about how they will be supplied. There are significant challenges supplying the existing Health Posts so how will an additional 650 be supplied?
This was based on one of the scenarios we developed during the planning stages of ColaLife. The foundations of this concept are:
- Health Posts are numerous and remote when looked at from the perspective of public sector organisation tasked with supplying them
- But there will almost certainly be a shop nearby
- The shop keeper will already be making regular journeys to the district centre to buy commodities to bring back to his/her shop
- Why not pay the shop keeper to collect a kit of essential medicines for the Health Post once a month
- When the Health Assistant confirms receipt of the kit the shop keeper gets paid into their mobile phone-based account
There are potentially benefits all round from this approach. The shopkeeper improves his or her livelihood and the Ministry of Health does not have to gear up to undertake this momentous task itself.
Worth a try I would have thought. What do you think?