Leveraging The Coca-Cola Company’s distribution, logistics and marketing expertise to improve the availability of life-saving medicines and demand for health services across Africa

Project Last Mile made significant progress in transforming the delivery of life-saving medicines and increasing the demand for health services across Africa during 2018.

The innovative public partnership between The Coca-Cola Company, The Coca-Cola Foundation, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, USAID, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Coca-Cola’s bottlers aims to support African governments in delivering life-saving medicines and supplies to the hardest-to-reach communities across the continent.

In examining access to health care in Africa, Project Last Mile’s donor partners asked the key question, “If you can find a Coca-Cola product almost anywhere in Africa, why not life-saving medicines?” And Coca-Cola responded by freely sharing its business models over the last ten years through the unique global partnership, Project Last Mile.

Project Last Mile (PLM) leverages The Coca-Cola Company’s private sector solutions in supply chain and marketing to support Ministries of Health across Africa with the work they are already doing to make life-saving medicines and health services available wherever and whenever they are needed.

During 2018, Project Last Mile strengthened its established programmes in South Africa Mozambique and Tanzania, while also focusing on developing stronger relationships with ministries of health and kick-starting pilot projects in newer countries including Liberia, Sierre Leone, eSwatini and Nigeria.

In South Africa, the Project worked with USAID and the South African Department of Health to revolutionise access to chronic medication and Anti-Retroviral Treatment for more than 2 million people through the development of patient-friendly, alternative pick-up points.

In Mozambique, where over 70% of the population lives in rural and remote areas, often cut off from essential public infrastructure and health services, programmes to optimise distribution routes for life-saving medication were rolled out to seven more provinces.  The organisation’s work in Mozambique was also featured in a short documentary “The Last Mile” celebrating the progress made in the fight against HIV/AIDS since the release of the iconic movie “Philadelphia” 25 years ago. 

Employees from the Tanzanian Medical Stores Department tour the Coca-Cola bottlers facilities as part of a knowledge sharing exchange organised by Project Last Mile.

Meanwhile in Tanzania, Project Last Mile deepened its partnership with the Medical Stores Department to improve the distribution of medicines to hard-to-reach communities through knowledge sharing opportunities with the bottler in Dar es Salaam.

The first delivery of medicines in Liberia as part of the pilot being undertaken by Project Last Mile with the Ministry of Health.

In another exciting development, Project Last Mile delivered its first medicines to Liberia as part of a pilot to redesign and improve medicine delivery systems after the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemics. In Nigeria, work continued with government to improve the maintenance and reliability of the cold-chain for vaccines. 

The organisation’s programme in Sierra Leone launched a project to work directly with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and the National Medical Supplies Agency to design an effective and cost-efficient Last Mile Delivery model that will ensure full availability of essential medicines across all of Sierra Leone’s 1,269 peripheral health units.

A healthcare worker in addresses a gathering of young women in eSwatini as part of the Girl Champ campaign to increase demand and utilization of HIV services in the country.

Recognising the importance of health awareness and education, the first strategic marketing campaign was launched in eSwatini.  GirlChamp was designed in partnership with a Coca-Cola Company advertising agency, FCB, to increase demand and utilization of HIV services for adolescent girls and young women. In 2017, eSwatini had the highest HIV prevalence amongst adults worldwide, with 27.4% of those between 15 – 49 years living with HIV

Project Last Mile’s work is receiving increased recognition on global platforms. Some of the achievements of the partnership were showcased by the Yale Global Health Leadership Institute (GHLI) which published a peer-reviewed publication on Project Last Mile in the International Journal of Multiple Research Approaches. Click here to read the article. In addition, the Company’s partnership with Global Citizen highlighted Project Last Mile’s valuable work across the continent, which attracts many young people wanting to know more about the project. Click here to read the articles.

In the year ahead, Project Last Mile will continue to make a big impact in improving the availability of life-saving medicines and demand for health services across Africa. It is part of The Coca-Cola Company’s recognition that growing the prosperity and sustainability of the communities where we operate is key to ensuring our own growth.

Find out more about Project Last Mile by visiting their new website at projectlastmile.com.