During my last trip to Liberia - with a stethoscope draped around my neck - I had the privilege of caring for patients alongside Last Mile Health’s community health professionals in some of the most remote communities of Liberia. Together with my colleagues, I hiked, motor-biked, and paddled canoes to bring lifesaving medical care directly to patients living far beyond the reach of the health system.
At Last Mile Health, our vision is a health worker for everyone, everywhere, every day. It is a vision that will not be easily realized, but it is one that we must pursue.
Together, we’ve proven it’s possible to close the gap in access to care for those living in the world's most remote communities. With your partnership, and in collaboration with the Government of Liberia, we are now supporting more than 300 community health professionals in nearly 300 remote rural communities who extend primary care to more than 50,000 people. This year alone, Last Mile Health’s community health professionals conducted over 42,000 patient visits and treated more than 33,000 sick children with malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhea. In our pilot site, clinic-based maternal deliveries rose from baseline of 56 percent in 2012 to 96 percent in 2016.
Now we have a chance to change history and come another step closer to realizing our vision. With the support of Last Mile Health and other partners, the Government of Liberia is launching a groundbreaking community health worker initiative - called the National Community Health Assistant Program - to deploy over 4,000 Community Health Assistants and clinical supervisors to extend care to the 1.2 million people who live in Liberia’s most remote communities.
This progress would not be possible without your partnership. Together, we can extend health care to people living in some of the most marginalized places on Earth.
Raj Panjabi, MD, MPH
CEO of Last Mile Health
To our valued partners and friends:
When I first joined Last Mile Health’s Board of Directors in 2012, our team was just launching our pilot program in Konobo. In fact, I was drawn to the organization because this was a group willing to go to the most remote corners of Liberia, despite the widespread belief that it could not be done. Soon thereafter, I was able to visit Konobo, where I witnessed firsthand the power of commitment and partnership to overcome immense challenges to improve access to healthcare and save lives.
From our early work treating patients in Konobo District to the work that is now underway to support the Government of Liberia’s National Community Health Assistant Program, I’m humbled by the ever-increasing positive impact of Last Mile Health on the lives of those living in the most remote and vulnerable communities. In January 2016, I had the opportunity to visit Rivercess County for the first time with our Board of Directors. As we traveled via truck, canoe, and on foot to visit health workers and patients in Lower Yarnee District, we saw what accessing the “last mile” truly means and why we focus our efforts there. At the same time, we were reminded of the importance of how we do our work. When access to primary care is provided through a model that is deeply rooted in the community and combined with compassion, it is transformative.
Now, as the organization embarks on another year, we recognize the long journey we still have ahead. Though Last Mile Health has grown quickly, we still remain small in comparison to the scope of the problem we aim to address: the one billion people worldwide who never see a health worker due to distance. Your support will continue to play a critical role in supporting Last Mile Health as we design, demonstrate, scale, and advocate for patients living at the last mile.
This is a critical moment for our organization, as we address one of the biggest challenges facing the world. Thank you for joining us in this mission, and for amplifying the courage and hope that exist at the last mile.
Katherine Collins, MTS
CEO of Honeybee Capital
Last Mile Health Board of Directors
We have designed a replicable model for delivering health care to the last mile.
We implement our model in some of the most remote communities in Liberia.
We partner with government to scale public sector community health programming.
We advocate for the health and development needs of last mile communities.
To ensure that we’re choosing the best candidates to serve as community health workers, we partner with local leadership to recruit talent from within the remote communities we serve.
Community health workers receive four separate trainings covering infectious disease surveillance; reproductive, maternal, and neonatal health care; management of malaria, diarrhea, and acute respiratory infection in children under five; and additional services including first aid and community education on HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. After completing each course, trainees are given time to develop their new skills before advancing to the next stage of training.
We strengthen supply chain, communication, and transportation systems to ensure that CHWs always have the drugs, tools, and forms that they need to provide lifesaving care.
Clinical supervisors provide CHWs with one-on-one mentorship to improve the quality of care they provide, and to ensure that they are accurately diagnosing and treating their patients.
All of our CHWs receive monthly pay in recognition of the substantial time and energy they commit to providing care to their patients and honing their skills as professionals.