The idea for LifeNet was born when US business entrepreneur, Michael Spraggins, considered sub-Saharan Africa’s staggering mortality figures and saw in them an underserved market. Michael recruited an investment analyst and a registered nurse to join him in developing a new kind of solution to Burundi’s healthcare delivery challenges. In 2009, they assessed the viability of a program to ramp up Burundi’s supply of pharmaceuticals, but soon discovered that the most important missing component in the supply chain was further upstream: at the point of diagnosis and consultation.
The church-based health centers LN encountered were uniquely positioned to address the health needs of their communities, and the clinic staff with whom LN engaged wanted desperately to provide high-quality care. But they were up against crippling structural barriers.
Health centers without basic medical equipment could not offer patients the services they needed. Staff expended scarce time and resources traveling to and from the capital city of Bujumbura to search for essential medicines. Administrative staff struggled to keep track of earnings and expenses. Medical staff neglected to wash hands between patients or clean thermometers between uses. Maternity nurses did not know infant CPR. Nurses administered dangerous and even lethal doses of medication – all for lack of basic training. These faith-based health centers account for 40 to 70% of the health infrastructure in Africa, according to the UN.
In pursuit of an asset-light model that could be replicated on a large scale, LifeNet tested a program to provide microloans and basic medicine to nurses to enable them to better serve their communities. Through engagement with local nurses, our team discovered critical gaps in local nursing education and clinic capacity.
IN THE US
1440 G St, NW
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Democratic Republic of the Congo