Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent tells Daniel Gross his company is expanding a project that helps nonprofits deliver vaccines in rural Africa more quickly.
THE DAILY BEAST — If the Coca-Cola company can deliver a bottle of soda to a village deep in the African countryside on a daily basis, why can’t governments and nonprofits figure out how to do the same with life-saving pharmaceuticals?
That was the question posed by philanthropist Melinda Gates a few years ago. After all, a lot of money is spent buying anti-AIDS drugs and vaccines in the West and shipping them to the developing world overnight. But in places like Tanzania, it could still take up to 30 days to get the drugs to patients. As a result, only half of those seeking vaccinations in the country would find the appropriate drug was available.
Gabriel Jaramillo, the general manger of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, saw an opportunity. “What we noticed was that Coca-Cola’s products always seemed to get to every remote region, and we thought that if they could get their products there, with their support, maybe we could, too,” Jaramillo said.
In 2009 the Global Fund asked Coca-Cola for that support, and at the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative summit, the company announced a pilot project in Tanzania, working together with the country’s Medical Stores Department (MSD), the Global Fund, the Gates Foundation, and Accenture Development Partnerships. Two years later, preliminary results are in.
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