Grant to expand local Frontline Health Workers’ ability to bring basic care to remote communities and integrate best practices with national health policy
The Pershing Square Foundation has announced a grant of $516,000 to Last Mile Health – an organization that has begun to revolutionize healthcare in underserved communities in remote areas of Liberia, West Africa. The grant will help Last Mile Health expand its operations significantly.
Over one billion people globally, including 400 million Africans, lack access to health services because they live too far from a health facility. In Liberia alone, nearly 1.5 million individuals lack local health care access. The sheer geographic scale of Liberia and its lack of infrastructure means relying on doctors and centralized health facilities is not a viable option for many remote communities.
Last Mile Health brings healthcare into the heart of communities by recruiting, training, supervising and incentivizing local people to perform as professional Frontline Health Workers. These newly trained, local professionals deliver primary care to their own communities, focusing particularly on providing prevention and care for the top 10 killers in Liberia, making up nearly 80% of the burden of disease in remote regions.
In conjunction with the Government of Liberia, Last Mile Health has run a successful pilot, hiring 47 Frontline Health Workers to provide primary healthcare to 22,000 people in one of Liberia’s most remote health districts. This approach had an immediate and significant impact. In these areas, five times as many children are being vaccinated against the most common deadly diseases, rates of treatment for malaria and pneumonia have increased several-fold, and 98% of women are receiving pre- and post-natal care.
The Pershing Square Foundation’s grant will enable Last Mile Health to replicate its model on a much bigger scale. In the next few years, the organization aims to hire and train 300 Frontline Health Workers in order to serve 10 health districts that currently do not have access to basic healthcare.
Crucially, the grant will also enable Last Mile Health to strengthen its partnership with the Government of Liberia – specifically, to increase capacity to support the development of national community health policy and to scale up best practices in its innovative primary healthcare program. This partnership with the Liberian Government also greatly accelerates the opportunity for a successful roll-out of an expanded program to cover additional remote health districts, which is strongly supported by both the President of Liberia and the leadership of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.
Paul Bernstein, CEO of The Pershing Square Foundation, said, “Last Mile Health has a proven track record in improving healthcare in the most remote places, with a tangible impact on critical care, such as increased vaccination rates and malaria treatment. Thanks to its partnership with the Liberian Government, Last Mile Health is at the perfect point for a major expansion, and The Pershing Square Foundation is delighted to be able to support this growth. We believe strongly in extending opportunities that we all take for granted to those that need it most. Last Mile Health is an excellent partner for us as we seek to do this.”
Dr. Raj Panjabi, CEO of Last Mile Health, said, “We are extremely grateful to The Pershing Square Foundation for its grant. The health services we are delivering have had a profound impact in the remote areas where we are working, but this investment will allow us to scale up our program substantially. As a result, we’ll be able to save more lives and refine a health care model that will inform health systems at a global level.
Notes for Editors
1. About The Pershing Square Foundation. The Pershing Square Foundation, based in New York, was founded in December 2006 by Karen and Bill Ackman. Bill is the CEO and Portfolio Manager of Pershing Square Capital Management, L.P. Since its founding, the Pershing Square Foundation has committed $235 million in grants and social investments to support exceptional leaders and innovative organizations that tackle important social issues and deliver scalable and sustainable impact.
2. About Last Mile Health. Over one billion people globally lack access to health care because they live too far from a health facility. Last Mile Health exists to save lives in the world’s most remote villages by recruiting, training, supervising and incentivizing professionalized community health workers. The Last Mile Health delivery platform bridges health access gaps to drastically reduce morbidity and mortality in remote regions. Working in conjunction with the Government of Liberia, Last Mile Health is poised to expand health services to 150,000 remote villagers by 2017, while also refining a more broadly replicable model for “last mile” service delivery.
3. For more information, please call Lisha McCormick, CDO, Last Mile Health, +1 917 940 0511, Lisha@lastmilehealth.org or email James Frayne for The Pershing Square Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org.