The Coca-Cola Company, in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has announced an investment of $21 million to expand Project Last Mile to ten African countries over the next five years.
Currently focused on Tanzania and Ghana, the public-private partnership applies Coca-Cola's logistic, supply chain, distribution, and marketing expertise to help African governments bring critical medical supplies to remote communities. The new investment will be used to expand the project to an additional eight countries, starting with Mozambique. Through the initiative, government agencies responsible for managing the procurement and distribution of essential medicines and medical supplies learn how to forecast demand for medicines and vaccines, better market the availability of such commodities, and properly maintain the cold chain equipment for storing certain medicines and vaccines. Additional project partners include Yale University's Global Health Leadership Institute, Accenture Development Partnerships, and the Global Environment & Technology Foundation.
"As a result of Last Mile we have been able to implement professional practices that have improved our planning, distribution, and performance management processes. This has improved our capability to consistently deliver critical medical supplies throughout Tanzania," said Cosmas Mwaifwani, director general of the medical stores department in that country. "Since we began working with our partners in 2010, we have been able to increase the availability of medicines in medical clinics by 20 percent to 30 percent in some places where we have implemented the direct distribution model. Additionally, the partners have shared distribution tools with us to enable us to efficiently reach more than fifty-five hundred health facilities."