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Addressing health access in rural areas

reach52 is a health-tech social enterprise solving health access challenges in rural areas of low- or middle-income countries through a data-driven, human-powered approach.
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reach52 implements access-oriented community health campaigns across a range of disease areas through its network of thousands of digitally equipped reach52 Community Agents.

reach52’s campaigns typically focus on health education, community screenings, referrals to care, and access to affordable medicines and health products. Specific key performance targets vary by campaign, but reach52’s overarching objective is to improve access to primary care services for those families in the “missing middle.” These households are “near poor,” slightly too affluent to qualify for social entitlement schemes but unable to afford advanced care, particularly from private providers.

Since its launch in the Philippines, the model has scaled to other countries, including Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Kenya and South Africa. reach52’s offline-first Android app, reach52 access, is used by its Agents in areas of low internet connectivity.

Agents can collect individual-level data, transact sales anywhere and sync back to the cloud when a connection is available. The data is tracked via the company’s partner-facing platform reach52 insights, which provides critical functionality to support the design, implementation, monitoring and impact measurement of data-driven community-level campaigns. The platform delivers precision interventions to cohorts of residents filtered from baseline data based on individual traits. This ensures that scarce resources are micro-targeted towards people most likely to benefit from them.

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reach52 Agent in Indonesia collects health data from a resident in the rural community via the reach52 access app

Under reach52’s sustainable business approach, revenue is generated through the sale of campaigns to major firms in the pharmaceutical and fast-moving consumer goods sectors. Principally focused on operationalising corporate social responsibility targets, many campaigns support these firms’ commercial strategies. Services focus on aggregated data and insights, consumer engagement and brand awareness, and emphasise underserved emerging and frontier markets.

 

Outcomes and innovation

As an impact-focused business, reach52 directly aligns targets towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While principally focused on SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-being), reach52 also contributes to SDG 5 (Gender Equality) and SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth). With 1.25 million residents impacted across six markets, reach52 implements sustainable campaigns with leading global firms such as Johnson & Johnson, Bayer and Sanofi. reach52 has trained over 12,500 Agents to scale the delivery of health products and services in non-communicable diseases, infectious diseases, and maternal and child health. An external evaluation demonstrated that reach52's model generates US$2.10 of social value in partner communities for every US$1 invested.

To support SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-being), reach52 operates campaigns across a range of disease areas to support universal health coverage for disconnected rural populations. Active campaigns focus on diabetes, hypertension, malnutrition, maternal and child health, and Covid-19. reach52 Agents have screened over 60,000 residents for diabetes and hypertension in just the past year, with many enrolling in reach52's community-based chronic disease management programme.

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reach52 Agent in Kenya performs health screening for a resident in a rural community using a mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) tape to assess signs of malnutrition

reach52’s work on SDG 5 (Gender Equality) takes two forms: campaigns for maternal and child health and its Agent network. Its maternal and child health campaigns have engaged 26,000 mothers with children under five years of age since March 2022. During these one-on-one door-to-door engagements, trained Agents deliver health education messaging, collect vital data and enhance linkages to local health facilities. In addition, over 95 per cent of reach52’s Agents are female, impacting the goal’s indicators around enhancing the use of enabling technology and increasing women’s economic empowerment.

Concerning SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), reach52 brings economic opportunities to their rural partner communities. Most of the Agents are also community health workers who perform their government-assigned duties voluntarily or for modest monthly stipends. reach52 provides an opportunity to supplement this stipend by receiving outcomes-based payments for completing social-impact-oriented tasks, such as registering new residents, completing community screenings or providing referrals to care. In addition, reach52 provides training on transferable skills, such as tech literacy, social marketing and community engagement strategies.

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Community health workers in the Philippines receiving training to become reach52 Agents who are digitally equipped to use the reach52 access app to deliver healthcare services to their communities

 

Future of reach52

reach52 is committed to expanding its geographic footprint and the scope of its impact areas. Since launching its first campaign in sub-Saharan Africa in 2021, the organisation has experienced substantial demand for services in the region. This has resulted in expansion to South Africa in 2022 and the expected growth to additional countries in 2023.

reach52 is also committing resources to scale its network of partnered local retailers. This move will expand residents' access to affordable health products while creating additional engagement channels for reach52’s business-to-business partners. Finally, reach52 is also investing in its tech platform, leveraging opportunities to license this product to potential clients working in the impact space.

Posted 08 February 2023

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