Saving lives, door to door
In a nutshell
|Sustainable Development Goal||Good Health and Well-Being|
For poor families in the developing world, health choices are bleak. Typically, the mother of a sick child who needs medicine has two options: go to a private drug shop, where prices are often a few times higher than the market rate and drugs are likely to be counterfeit, or lose a day of work to travel and wait in line at a public health facility for free medicine that may be out of stock. Partly as a result, six million children in developing countries die of easily preventable or treatable causes each year.
In sub-Saharan Africa, stock-out rates at public health facilities routinely exceed 50%, and poorly trained, poorly monitored health staff are the norm. These problems worsen in the “last mile”, that is, the final leg of the journey to remote rural communities. The region lacks scalable, effective health delivery systems, and public health experts estimate that four million more health workers are needed.
Living Goods recruits and trains people in poor, rural communities in Kenya to become healthcare entrepreneurs. These community health workers (CHWs) first complete a three-week course in health, technology and business topics, and an internship at a local health facility, that prepares them to deliver basic health products and services in their own neighbourhoods. CHWs undergo weekly field supervision visits, monthly refresher trainings, and are recertified annually. They earn income through product sales and small impact-linked incentives, going door-to-door providing free health education and diagnoses and selling medicines, contraceptives and other health-enhancing products like fortified foods, water filters and clean solar lanterns. A network of field offices acts as the main centre of warehousing, training and monitoring.
CHWs focus on areas where they can make the biggest difference at the lowest cost: family planning; pregnancy and newborn care; diagnosis and treatment of malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea; and healthy nutrition. SmartHealth™, an app co-developed by Living Goods, guides them through the process of diagnosing and treating childhood illnesses on site, registering and tracking pregnancies, and following up with customers in person and via SMS. A cloud-based performance dashboard allows field office staff to monitor, optimise and verify CHWs’ results in real time. Since Living Goods tracks impact indicators for each CHW, including number of illness assessments and treatments provided to children under five years of age, number of pregnancy registrations, and percent of women visited in the first 48 hours after giving birth. Living Goods operates its own supply chain to minimise stockouts and keep prices low.
Goals and Expected Impact
Our support will accelerate the company’s scale-up of its CHW model in six counties in Kenya. Three years on, Living Goods will have deployed thousands more CHWs (53 of them funded by the Swiss Re Foundation) and reached millions of additional people with access to high-quality, low-cost home-based healthcare (more than 40 000 of them thanks to the Foundation). It will not only improve the health and wealth of its customers but also demonstrate that CHWs can fill in critical gaps in Kenya’s public community health system at the county level.