Zambia Diary | Days 2-5, Visit 3 | UNICEF, MoH, KZF, MSL and Baltimore

Jane burns the midnight oil

It’s been a busy and varied few days. A lot of the weekend was spent preparing for the workshop UNICEF had asked Jane to run on ‘Participatory Techniques’. The image above is of her doing just that into the evening. This request came after the workshop Jane ran on our last visit to pull stakeholders together and decide who the partners for the pilot should be. As reported, this went very well and UNICEF wanted to know more. Jane did the workshop on a pro bono basis but UNICEF paid for her to get here so it was a win-win situation at a time of restricted budgets and all the rest of it.

My airfare this time was paid for by SABMiller who also covered the costs of Jane and I attending the events around the World Economic Forum in Cape Town last week for which we are very grateful. We needed this last visit to tie up the loose ends of the pilot plan.

Over the last couple of days I’ve met with our contact in the Ministry of Health, with John at Keepers Zambia Foundation and Medical Stores Limited. The highlights (and a lowlight) are as follows.

Ministry of Health
During this meeting we focussed on how to formalise the support of the Ministry of Health for the pilot in the form of a letter of support that would reinforce our bid to funders. We also talked about the best way to approach the Pharmaceutical Regulatory Authority (PRA) for approval of the Anti-Diarrhoea Kit. We have agreed that UNICEF will approach the PRA and that our contact in the Ministry of Health with advise and support the process.

Keepers Zambia Foundation (KZF)
I had a great meeting with John the Executive Director of KZF which went on most of this morning where we went through the detail of the social marketing plan and related this back to the budget that John had sent previously. We talked about how the KZF would obtain ‘a license to operate’ in the communities of the selected Districts through the engagement the District Councils, the representatives of the relevant Ministries at district level and traditional leaders. John described how communities would select volunteer promoters within their communities, what these promotors would do and how they would be motivated and supported.
We also covered the design and production of EIC (Education, Information and Communication) materials and the use of community radio as part of the social marketing effort.
I came away from this meeting very reassured that we had chosen the right social marketing partner.

Medical Stores Limited (MSL)
Jane and Chipopa at MSL
Jane and Chipopa in MSL’s temperature-controlled warehouse (nice hats)

MSL had already submitted their bit of the plan: a description of their role in the pilot: the procurement of components, the assembly of ADKs and the distribution of ADKs to district level, so this meeting was about confirming the detail and all was well. However, we did hit an unexpected challenge (this is the lowlight mentioned above). This revolves around the way Zinc is packaged. We want to put two ‘courses’ of Zinc supplementation in the ADK. This equates to two sets of ten 20mg tablets. The Zinc tablets are packaged in blister-packs of 10. So far, so good. The problem is that each package, of the Zinc currently stocked by MSL, consists of 10 blister packs (ie 100 tablets in all) and the blister packs within the box are white with no indication of the tablets they contain of how to administer them.

ZinCfant 20mg

These boxes of 10 blister packs are two big to fit in the AidPod (even if we wanted to do that) and I am pretty sure that the above-mentioned PRA will not allow us to spilt the contents of a box like this to make up 5 ADKs.

So we’ve got emails out to Shelys Pharmaceuticals Limited in Tanzania, who make one of the approved Zinc supplements for Zambia, to see what their package sizes are. Ideally we’d like a packet containing two, 10-tablet blister packs that we could just slip into the ADKs.

While doing all this investigation I realised that Shelys Pharmaceuticals Limited is owned by the Sumaria Group and the Sumaria Group also own the Coca-Cola bottler in Mwanza, Tanzania. Watch this space . . . .



  1. And Baltimore? I hear you chorus. Today started with an impromptu Skype call from Rohit Ramchandani in Baltimore. It was 2am there and he was revising for his finals. We had a quite chat about progress here and the latest on the research methodology . . . .

  2. Go Simon and Jane! SRT @colalife: Lots of highlights but one lowlight . . .