You will be pressed to find a village that doesn’t sell some soft drinks. This report looks at how, using Coca-Cola’s extensive distribution knowhow, a number of organisations are getting together to get medical supplies where they are needed most.
Maria (not her real name) of Zambezia Province, Mozambique found out her HIV positive status seven years ago. Since then, she has made almost weekly trips to her health facility to collect medicines and consult with the health workers on managing her status. This trip to collect medicine takes her around an hour-and-a-half one way.
There have been times when Maria made the journey to her health facility, only to find the medicine is not available, due to delayed or incomplete deliveries. Like many people on the continent, she lives far from her closest health facility. Many health facilities, in turn, lie far off the main road – hundreds of kilometres down poorly maintained dirt roads, barely more than a hiking trail in width. During the rainy seasons, it can take weeks for medicines dispatched from national warehouses to reach some health facilities. For people like Maria this can compromise their ability to return to full health.
But over the past five years, thanks to Project Last Mile – a unique partnership between The Coca-Cola Company, The Coca-Cola Foundation, USAID, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria – access to prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care for diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria is being improved across Africa.
Delivering lifesaving medicines
Project Last Mile leverages Coca-Cola’s logistical, supply chain management and marketing expertise to support African governments in delivering lifesaving medicines and creating demand for health services in the hardest-to-reach communities. For 90 years Coca-Cola has been part of customers’ lives in Africa. With the help of more than 55 bottling partners, the company has now expanded into nearly all sub-Saharan African countries. Over the decades, Coca-Cola has developed unparalleled expertise in delivering its portfolio of products to remote communities – a competitive advantage that is now being used to deliver public health diagnostic devices and medicines to save lives.
“The quicker community health workers are able to detect and treat people with these diseases, the more chance they have of saving their lives,” says Maserame Mouyeme, Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability Director for Coca-Cola Southern and East Africa.
AIDS, malaria and TB are Africa’s silent enemies. They are not only some of the continent’s biggest killers, they drive poverty by slowing economic growth, putting pressure on public health systems and burdening millions of African households.
“We’d like for these diseases to be a thing of the past across Africa,” says Mouyeme. “Through Project Last Mile we are fully committed to playing our part in the fight to eradicate these diseases”.
Project Last Mile shows how public and private sector partners can come together with communities to develop innovative solutions to these challenges.
Following an initial commitment of more than $21m by partners in 2014, the project has provided support to 10 African countries. A new 5-year commitment was made at an event at the World Economic Forum for Africa 2019. “By removing obstacles in delivering medicines and accessing health services, we hope to save more lives faster,” Mouyeme said during the announcement.