Gates Foundation announces 2013 vaccination innovation award winner

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced the winner of the second Gates Vaccine Innovation Award on Thursday, recognizing the work of a Mozambique-based field officer for VillageReach.

Margarida Matsinhe played a major role in developing new approaches to improve vaccine delivery logistics and collaborations with key partners to achieve the country's immunization goals. Gates announced the winner in his annual letter.

"Margarida Matsinhe has been instrumental in overhauling the vaccine logistics system by removing obstacles that prevent kids from getting life-saving vaccines," Gates said. "I hope others are inspired by Margarida Matsinhe to create better ways to reach all children with the vaccines they need."

Matsinhe will receive an award of $250,000, most of which will be donated to a charity of her choice. Before she worked for VillageReach, a social enterprise that increases access to healthcare for underserved communities, she worked for the Ministry of Health in a variety of roles.

"This award recognizes Margarida's lifelong dedication to increasing childhood immunization for all communities," Allen Wilcox, the president of VillageReach, said. "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."

Starting in 2001, VillageReach pioneered and deployed the dedicated logistics system to increase the efficiency and scale of vaccine delivery in hard to reach regions of Mozambique. Matsinhe and VillageReach helped to decrease the monthly incidence of vaccine stock-outs in rural health centers from 80 percent to one percent. The amount of time the cold chain worked increased from 40 percent to 96 percent. The percentage of children receiving basic vaccines rose from 69 percent to 95 percent.

The Gates Vaccine Innovation Award celebrates the revolutionary ways in which life-saving vaccines are provided to children in the poorest parts of the world.