Access to quality healthcare for all communities in a scalable and sustainable way—that is at the heart of VillageReach’s mission. VillageReach (2006 Skoll Social Entrepreneur) focuses on the lowest levels of the pyramid and the last mile of the health system. “That’s really where the opportunity for impact is,” said Emily Bancroft, VillageReach President, during a recent visit to the Skoll Foundation.

In Malawi, with its critical shortage of healthcare workers, the average amount of time spent with a nurse or doctor—if you’re fortunate enough to have access—is less than 60 seconds. “There are so many tools available to help us access information and services in real time. Why can’t Malawians expect the same care that we expect? Why can’t they also have efficient ways of accessing health information?" said Bancroft.

A Malawian social entrepreneur and software developer—Soyapi Mumba—had the original idea for a community-based, free health hotline in Malawi. VillageReach partnered with Soyapi and his organization—Baobab Health Trust—to design and implement Chipatala cha pa Foni (Health Center by Phone), a toll-free health hotline to reach the most rural populations.

Fast forward six years: The Malawian Ministry of Health has embraced this innovation, and written it into the Ministry’s strategic plan and budget. Airtel, the country’s largest mobile network, underwrites the hotline calls and the Ministry of Health will assume complete ownership of the hotline by 2019. This government uptake and corporate partnership will allow the hotline to reach unprecedented scale and become a lasting resource to Malawians.

Read the full article about sustainable health solutions by Zachary Slobig at Skoll Foundation.