Fieldset
Making Family Packs

You’ve heard me describe the main activity of the mission at this point… distribution of anti-malarial medication to the community. The goal of this work is to treat people for malaria and prevent malaria in others.

You’ve heard me describe the main activity of the mission at this point… distribution of anti-malarial medication to the community. The goal of this work is to treat people for malaria and prevent malaria in others. I’ve also told you about the distribution day, but I haven’t talked about the team behind the team… the pharmacy team.

One of my main responsibilities is to ensure that the family packs of antimalarial drugs are assembled and ready for distribution. I have a great team of 20 people that spend eight hours a day, six days a week making these packets. 

The pharmacy packing team in action ©Kimberly Larkins

The drug we are distributing is a combination product for malaria… artesunate/amodiaquine. There are four different dosing regimens depending on weight/age and all doses are given over three days (one pill each day for the lowest three doses and two tablets a day for those older than 14). The four regimens are for children 2-11months, 1-5 years, 6-13 years and the biggest dose is for those over 14 years. The tablets are in a simple blister pack.

For a variety of reasons it was decided to go with family packs rather than assembling a specific pack for each family. One of the main reasons is the context of Ebola, which requires that distribution be quick and “no touch”, as well as the number of families we are distributing to is large. Based on the population and public health concepts it was decided that each pack would contain seven blisters, one for children 2-11 months and two for each of the other doses.

To compensate for the members of the family that we might miss, the chief of the community is given a buffer stock to provide to those who need additional blisters for their families. We also put an informational leaflet inside of the pack. The leaflet outlines that the medication should be taken whether or not the person is sick, that the tablets can be crushed for babies, side effects they should be aware of, the different doses based on age, etc.

Our assembly lines would make Ford proud. We have two lines working simultaneously… the bags are opened on the table, the folded leaflets are put in, followed by the blisters of medications, the bag is tied after a check to ensure all seven blisters are there and 50 bags are put into a box. Everyone has a job and is conscious of how their job contributes to the mission.

It amazes me that the team is able to maintain their focus for the full day!