We've spent the summer gathering evidence from our projects, to move our findings on innovative design and distribution of the 'Kit Yamoyo' - kids' diarrhoea treatment - beyond the work in Zambia and into national and global policy. Why? Because in 2018, diarrhoea is still the second or third biggest killer of young children in developing countries. At ColaLife, we have always believed that WHO's simple, low-cost recommendation (Oral Rehydration Salts and Zinc) can save more lives if it is designed better and distributed more effectively: more like a desirable, affordable commodity - for example Cola. Now we need to take that evidence to WHO - the World Health Organisation.
We asked key influencers and health experts in Zambia for their views:
Dr Kennedy Malama, Permanent Secretary to the Minister of Health, is chair of our Learning Group and supports 'main-streaming' of products like Kit Yamoyo in Zambia, based on the evidence our projects have produced:
““This [the evidence] is very critical and it has the highest weight as it also hinges on the quality of the product, putting beneficiaries at the centre. The research was very good and helpful. Kit Yamoyo content is superior. The game change with this product is that is contains Zinc which is adding high value as informed by evidence compared to ordinary ORS as a product. The look is excellent. We need to explore the possibility of having this commodity free of charge in the public sector and have room for selling in private outlets."
From his team, Mr S, responsible for advising on buying decisions at the Ministry of Health is optimistic that change will happen:
“We can’t just sit and continue maintaining the status quo. We never thought we could improve with packaging of these life-saving commodities for diarrhoea, we never thought – but then there was the innovation from your project! It's good! In terms of procurement of medical supplies, it is an area that must become cost effective, and effective in terms of addressing the health delivery issues. One of the impacts [of this project], is that it has actually facilitated a policy change, which can involve re-packaging the two [ORS and Zinc]. When I am asked what type of ORS [to supply in future] then I will go for the one which has been modified to 200 mls. It’s better. And the one which is co-packaged with Zinc.”
Dr Malama recognises that the move from project to policy won't happen unless everyone is behind the change:
"What is critical now is to ensure that the key stakeholders are fully engaged so that they play their roles very well in a catalytic manner to sustain the availability and utilisation of this high impact life-saving commodity. Government and its partners shall definitely play a key role."
So, next month, we're bringing supporters together in Zambia for a final meeting and review, hosted by USAID DISCOVER-Health and chaired by the Zambian Ministry of Health.
ColaLife is very small, but we are now working with an international consortium of large organisations, who can help us to influence WHO's Essential Medicines List for children globally (EMLc). PATH, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), global manufacturers and academics are all helping us - through the UN's Diarrhoea Innovations Group (DIG). They have experience of asking for policy changes on Essential Medicines at WHO, which in turn influences what Ministries of Health will buy and distribute and what international charities and donors will support with their funds.
Our submission to WHO's HQ in Geneva will be ready by the end of 2018, and we will hear in spring 2019. We are presenting evidence on all we have learnt, with your help: providing ORS and Zinc together in one pack (co-packaging); an attractive, affordable consumer product; with better flavour and colour, better instructions, a measuring function and smaller, easier to use sachets of ORS.
It's not often that you get a chance to change a small part of how the world works for the better - so, thank you for helping us move from project to policy!
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