Seattle — The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today announced the winner of the second Gates Vaccine Innovation Award. The announcement was made in Bill Gates' fifth annual letter, which provides his personal account of the foundation's priorities for the coming year.
The award recognizes the work of Margarida Matsinhe, a Mozambique-based field officer for VillageReach, a social enterprise that works to increase access to healthcare for underserved communities. Trained in public health, Ms. Matsinhe has helped increase access to vaccines for thousands of children. Ms. Matsinhe played a key role in developing new approaches to improve the logistics of vaccine delivery and collaborating with key partners to achieve Mozambique's immunization goals.
"Margarida Matsinhe has been instrumental in overhauling the vaccine logistics system by removing obstacles that prevent kids from getting life-saving vaccines," said Bill Gates in his annual letter. "I hope others are inspired by Margarida Matsinhe to create better ways to reach all children with the vaccines they need."
As a field officer, Ms. Matsinhe is responsible for assisting Ministry of Health officials in Maputo Province in distributing vaccines. Before joining VillageReach, Ms. Matsinhe worked for the Ministry of Health in a variety of roles focused on improving healthcare delivery.
"This award recognizes Margarida's lifelong dedication to increasing childhood immunization for all communities," said VillageReach President Allen Wilcox. "Margarida is part of an incredible team that works in close partnership with district, provincial and national government immunization staff, demonstrating the importance of close collaboration to implement innovative new approaches to increasing vaccine access."
Ms. Matsinhe's achievements will be recognized with an award of US$250,000, the majority of which will be donated to a charity of her choice.
Starting in 2001, in partnership with the Foundation for Community Development and the Mozambique Ministry of Health, VillageReach pioneered and deployed the Dedicated Logistics System (DLS) to increase the scale and efficiency of vaccine delivery for young children in the hardest to reach regions. As a result of Ms. Matsinhe and VillageReach's work: the monthly incidence of vaccine stockouts in rural health centers decreased from 80 percent to 1 percent; the amount of time the cold chain is working increased from 40 percent to 96 percent, and; the percentage of children receiving basic vaccines increased from 69 percent to 95 percent.
The Gates Vaccine Innovation Award celebrates revolutionary ways in which children in the poorest parts of the world receive life-saving vaccines. The award is bestowed on an individual or organization nominated by the public that has made a uniquely innovative contribution to the Decade of Vaccines, in the hope of shining a light on the most powerful innovations in global health. Nominees are assessed on the tangible health impact, creativity, and scale of their innovation in the science, delivery, or funding of vaccines.