Vaccine delivery in developing countries is no easy matter.
First, you have to get your hands on the vaccines at an affordable price. Next, you must have enough healthcare workers and facilities to administer the vaccines. Then, the toughest challenge: To physically administer the vaccine, you either have to get the people to the healthcare facility, or get the healthcare workers to the people.
I'm simplifying things here, but getting vaccines to the most vulnerable is definitely an issue. And it's one that Pfizer Foundation wants to help solve.
The foundation recently announced that it was awarding $2 million in grants to UNICEF, Save the Children, and International Rescue Committee. The grant money will fund a pilot vaccine delivery program, focusing on individuals living in remote villages and underserved populations in Ethiopia, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia.
These last mile efforts are crucial to making progress on Millennial Development Goal 4, which is reducing under-five child mortality. Vaccinations are pivotal to this goal with an estimated 1.5 million children dying annually from diseases that could be prevented with vaccines. A large number of children do not have access to the vaccines, and the last mile gap is one reason why.
In turn, that gap comprises various problems related to logistics, infrastructure, security and information.
Pfizer’s money is helping to overcome some of these challenges by implementing tech-based remedies such as solar-powered phones and tablets to help healthcare workers track births and vaccination schedules as well as developing systems to monitor vaccines and equipment to help improve delivery and decrease traffic jams in the supply chain.
All of which sounds like money well spent.