Last Mile Health

Partnership objectives 

This partnership aims to help strengthen health systems and ensure people in remote areas can access health solutions through the training of community health workers.

Last Mile Health ensures access to quality primary health services for those living in remote communities. Last Mile Health ensures access to quality primary health services for those living in remote communities. Copyright Last Mile Health

What are the health needs and challenges?

Although half of the world’s population lives in rural areas, only 23% of health workers globally are deployed there. Over one billion people globally lack access to healthcare because they live too far from a doctor or clinic. Last Mile Health ensures access to quality primary health services for those living in remote communities by recruiting, training, equipping, managing and paying professionalized Community Health Workers to serve as formal extensions of the primary health system. Last Mile Health’s CHWs are members of the communities they serve; bringing critical health services to the doorsteps of people living in the worlds’ hardest to reach places. 

In 2014, the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history struck West Africa. It would go on to spread to six countries and claim nearly 12,000 lives. Liberia was among the hardest hit nations, suffering nearly 10,100 cases and 5,000 deaths. The crisis struck at the heart of Liberia’s healthcare system, taking the lives of hundreds of health workers and crippling health infrastructure.

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges

Merck has been the first Pharmaceutical partner supportive of Last Mile Health’s Ebola response in Liberia, an organization dedicated to delivering health solutions in the world’s most remote villages. Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Good outbreak control relies especially on raising awareness and building capacity in rural healthcare delivery. To prevent the spread of Ebola virus in Liberia, LMH has been leveraging its expertise and tools to continuously and rigorously train community-based providers to administer treatment and provide preventative care. 

Indeed, Ebola preventative and early supportive care with rehydration and symptomatic treatment can improve survival.

Last Mile Health recruits, trains, equips, manages and pays professionalized Community Health Workers to provide primary healthcare in the last mile. Community Health Workers are members of the communities they serve, selected by their own leaders to receive training because of their talent, commitment and ability. These motivated women and men become professional healthcare providers who work tirelessly to advance their skills and provide high quality care to their own people.

Summary of impact and forward looking information

In response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak, Last Mile Health’s comprehensive response entailed:

  • At the community level, ensured the safety and security of all staff while continuing to provide primary health services to communities. With the motto “keep safe, keep serving,” Community Health Workers implemented a ‘no-touch’ policy that enabled them to safely provide essential primary health services throughout the outbreak.
  • At the clinic level, over 1300 health workers and community members were trained on infection prevention and control (IPC) measures at 38 health facilities across two counties.
  • At the national level, Last Mile Health seconded staff to support senior officials in the Liberia Ministry of Health throughout the crisis, ensuring that interventions coordinated at the community level were part of a cohesive national response.

Partnership information

Company(ies) Merck

Partner(s) Last Mile Health

Type of Partner(s) NGOs

Therapeutic Focus Neglected Tropical Diseases

Disease(s) Ebola

Program Type(s) Health System Infrastructure - Training

Region(s) Sub-Saharan Africa

Number of Countries 1

Country(ies) Liberia

Start Date 2015

More information Merck Partners Last Mile Health

Anticipated completion date Ongoing