Before we returned to the UK in Jun-14 we helped our Zambian partner, Keepers Zambia Foundation, submit a bid to the local Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Programme funded by the British, Irish and Swedish Governments and administered by CARE Zambia.
The SUN Programme in Zambia is targeted at the 14 districts with the highest rates of malnutrition namely: Chipata, Lundazi, Mongu, Kalabo, Shangombo, Mumbwa, Mansa, Samfya, Kasama, Mbala, Kaputa, Chinsali, Mwinilunga and Zambezi. If you know Zambia you will be aware that most of these districts are very remote and sparsely populated. These aren’t the places you’d target if you were trying to get a new health product established in the market, like we are. However, their need for co-packaged ORS and Zinc is as high, if not higher, than any other district in Zambia.
Our bid, called KYTS-ACE (Kit Yamoyo Transition to Scale – Adapting to Challenging Environments), was approved and takes a three-pronged approach to reaching these areas, with a co-packaged ORS and Zinc, based on our successful designs in the COTZ trial.
The biggest ‘prong’ is the distribution of 450,000 unbranded co-packaged ORS and Zinc through the public sector. We are partnering again with Medical Stores Limited, the parastatal distributor of essential medicines, to do this. These will be given out free to carers of under 5s who visit public health centres. This is a massive order: nearly eight times the sales to date.
Private sector purists may ask why we are now handing such a large chunk of the market to free public sector supply. Won’t this undermine the private outlets? However, these kits have to be made and supplied, and that will be a huge benefit to our private sector manufacturer in Zambia, Pharmanova. This public sector order will provide an ‘anchor client’, securing production and sales while Pharmanova ramp up production. It will provide a platform on which to build sales in the private sector. It also means that the gross margin the manufacturer will need to take will be much lower and this will help keep the retail price down.
In addition, our target is to sell 220,000 kits through the private sector. These sales will be through one of the biggest supermarket chains in Zambia (more on this later) as well as through the type of small retailer we worked with during the trial – who offer reach right into remote communities.
As well as delivering direct impacts on the percentage of children receiving ORS and Zinc and thus saving lives, this project will also help us get a co-pack of ORS and Zinc on the Government’s Essential Medicines list and establish a link with one of the national supermarket chains in Zambia.
After a difficult 12 months, the tide had to turn. I think it just did.