Zambia takes on Kit Yamoyo

A landmark: on 6-Sep-18, almost seven years to the day since we moved to Zambia to make a simple diarrhoea treatment as ubiquitous as Coca-Cola, 27 people from 20 key Zambian projects and organisations came to discuss Kit Yamoyo – the kit of life.

With over 75 people on our final report mailing list, it was great to see so many in person. We had some newcomers, such as Dr Andrew Silumesii, Director of Public Health, many who have supported us along the way, and three who have been with us from the very beginning: Albert Saka from our local partner KZF, Rakesh Shah from the pharmaceutical sector, and Jan Willem van den Broek (CHAI and UNDP). Other key contributors, from the private sector, local non-profits, and international agencies like USAID, UNDP, Save the Children and the Clinton Health Access Initiative met under the chairmanship of Dr Kennedy Malama, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health. Our aim was to review progress, learning and next steps, based on results from projects that have covered both urban and remote rural areas of Zambia: KYTS-LUSAKA (link to blog posts tagged: KYTS-LUSAKA) and KYTS-ACE (link to blog posts tagged: KYTS-ACE).

ColaLife’s aim has always been ‘self-sustainability’.  So, we hoped this meeting would confirm a successful hand-over to local agencies, who have the long-term responsibility for public health in Zambia. We heard undertakings to do just that, with the Ministry confirming commitment to co-packaged ORS and Zinc on their Essential Medicines List and in their promotional efforts, the manufacturer, Pharmanova, confirming their commitment to Kit Yamoyo, and many participants interested in taking forward lessons.

View and download the presentation from

After a summary of what we did and what we had learnt (see slides above), the most interesting part of the afternoon was listening to participants translate learning into their own actions and views policy.

For example, Bryan Baleke Ng’ambi from Save the Children and Mathews Mhuru from the SUN programme thought more could be done to consult their end-users in future, and were particularly interested in the lessons on putting end users at the heart of intervention design, for acceptability and impact. They proposed more investment in research and design to understand user needs better, and working more constructively with both the private sector and the public sector.

We heard the Assistant Director of Environmental Health at the Ministry (Kaziya Mulenga) relate her new understanding of ‘value chains’, and planning to get health products as close to the family as possible. Her group discussed lessons on bringing the public and private together – even at community level, retailers’ knowledge can be brought up equal to health care workers for a single issue like diarrhoea. Her group pledged to improve training of both Community Health Workers (CHWs) and Community Health Assistants. These volunteers are on the front line in communities – and she saw potential to include the Kit Yamoyo in the planned CHW Kit – a bag of essential medicines that CHWs will carry with them when visiting households.

Jane Lungu from Business Solutions to Poverty, represents the Alliance for Inclusive and Nutritious Food Processing and her group discussed lessons on selling profitably at bottom of pyramid. Her group thought that lessons from Kit Yamoyo could be transferred to nutritious food, especially on distribution, pricing, advertising and linkages with nutritional and school feeding programmes.

Finally, Kapumpe Musakanya, CEO of Toilet Yanga and Mushili Beans Company, made the case that government can develop a more enabling environment for the private sector to provide more products and services in a business manner; government policy should encourage more consumer research on health goods.

Here is the detailed feedback from all of the groups.

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The final words must go to Dr Malama:

I well remember the early reasoning behind this intervention: that we can learn from Coca-Cola and the private sector. As a government, we emphasise the role for all sectors. Diarrhoea remains a big problem – we lose so many children to this disease, unnecessarily. We want these ORS and Zinc co-packs to be available at the last mile: we needed to take stringent steps to review the Essential Medicines List, and we have made an addendum, to include co-packaged ORS and Zinc as a single product. We have specialists in health promotion, who can ensure that we carry this evidence on ORS and Zinc forward. Dr Silumessi always grapples with the difficult issues, and he is going to say: promote the co-pack of ORS and Zinc. We know, the children are our future. Let us invest in them.

We would like to thank all our colleagues and friends in Zambia who have helped us along the way. It has been the most inspiring 8 years.