A ringing bell traditionally announces itinerant sales agents in rural Ghana. More and more villages are seeing agents with baskets stocked with oral rehydration salts, contraceptives, water purification tablets and other preventative health products.
In the past year, up to 300,000 additional people gained easier access to these and other key health products thanks to HealthKeepers, the “Avon lady” sales network for health that more than doubled its reach to serve 646,000 Ghanaians between 2012 and 2013.
The Center for Health Market Innovations (CHMI) profiles a total of 1,200 programs around the world and HealthKeepers is one of more than 40 health programs that reported having scaled up significantly over the past year.
Most organizations have enormous hurdles to scale, including sourcing effective personnel, mastering quality standards, accessing funding, and achieving an effective business model. As such, the momentum reported to CHMI is worth celebrating; we do so in Highlights: 2013, our annual look at trends in health markets in low- and middle-income countries.
Here are more top-line messages from Highlights, which spotlights 81 programs working to improve healthcare around the world:
- One of the fastest growing innovations in the CHMI database is the use of vouchers allowing the poor to access quality health services. According to data in the CHMI database, the use of vouchers has grown by 18% per year since 2000. Other rapidly growing approaches include health-provider training and the use of information communication technology.
- Many low- and middle-income countries are home to diverse and vibrant health markets. India has seen a boom of private healthcare development, and many health programs identified by CHMI are clustered in southern India.
- Even in fragile states—home to a third of the world’s poor—promising healthcare solutions are surfacing. Healthy Entrepreneurs’ Pharmacy-In-A-Box is stocked with 25 essential generic medicines tailored to the specific health needs and infrastructure realities of rural communities. Healthy Entrepreneurs operates in five countries, including the fragile states of Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Haiti.
- Innovators are finding effective solutions to tackle diseases that are top contributors to the developing world’s mortality and morbidity rates. In South Africa, On Cue Compliance has used a custom-designed pill bottle to help 90% of patients comply with their TB drug regimen, a huge improvement compared to the 22-60% who normally comply.
- Organizations are also employing supply chain innovations to ensure that patients have access to life-saving preventative and curative medicines. These innovations occur at various points along the supply chain, from production to delivery, and range from “buyer of last resort” models, to using motorcycles to get medicines to hard to reach areas.
- But the question still remains: Which approaches and programs are actually showing results? More than 240 programs have reported results across 10 performance dimensions tracked by CHMI. Eighty-three organizations are reporting health outputs—such as the number of health services provided—67 are reporting changes in the health status of a given population, and 57 are reporting improvements in the affordability of health services or products.
- CHMI uses data describing organizational impact to identify promising approaches. With a better understanding of which health organizations are having an impact in these extremely dynamic health markets, we can better track and support the scaling up of care to measurably improve the lives of the poor.
Read CHMI’s Highlights: 2013 to learn more about the HealthKeepers Network and 80 other cutting-edge health programs.