I will declare an interest. Five years ago, when I was working at Defra we recruited Simon Berry to lead our work on the way the department worked with the third sector. We managed to hang onto Simon for 18 months, guiding him through the ways of Whitehall, before he announced that he and his wife were going to go to Africa to try to solve a problem they had identified when they had lived there 20 years before. The problem was why so many young children in remote communities die of diarrhoea when there is a simple, cheap and effective treatment – oral rehydration salts and zinc. Their insight was that these treatments were simply not available either where people lived or, too often, in the health centres they would trek to with their sick child. Result: unnecessary deaths. But their additional insight was that in these very same communities, cola drinks were very widely available. If cola drinks could “go the extra mile”, why couldn’t lifesaving medicines? So if a way could be found to get the cola distributors to distribute medicines too, could they find a solution to that problem. Simon and Jane then organised a multi-pronged […]

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