The award is a major initiative of GSK and Save the Children's five-year partnership, through which the two organisations are combining their resources, voice and expertise to help save one million children's lives. Innovation - be that developing child-friendly medicines or working together in new ways to respond to humanitarian crises - is fundamental to the partnership and improving children's prospects. As such, the partnership has sought to identify innovations that are making a tangible difference to children’s health, and enable them to share and replicate their approach, through the award. Since 2013, more than a dozen inventive approaches have been recognised.
Lisa Bonadonna, Head of the GSK-Save the Children partnership, said: "When we embarked on our partnership - and the Healthcare Innovation Award - we set out to identify brilliant ideas, born in developing countries, which are helping to save children's lives. These latest inspiring innovations are doing that by strengthening healthcare systems and improving access to healthcare for mothers and children in some of the most underserved communities. We look forward to seeing them scale up and share their fantastic ideas, as previous winners have already gone on to do."
Mavis Owusu-Gyamfi, Director of Programme Policy and Quality at Save the Children and a member of the award judging panel, added: "This year's Healthcare Innovation Award applicants have once again demonstrated the best solutions for complex problems are often created by people affected by or closest to the problem. The pioneering healthcare solutions that the panel selected are already helping to save children’s lives in communities. I am confident that through the recognition and funding from this award, these winning innovations can be replicated to help make a bigger impact for the world's most vulnerable children."
As well as recognising innovations that help reduce child deaths, the third award adopted a special focus on strengthening health systems. With millions of people still lacking access to basic healthcare, the award recognised innovations that have proven to help increase access to public healthcare for pregnant women, mothers and children under five. Selected from more than 100 entries in 26 countries by a judging panel comprising health experts from across the globe, the winners are:
PATH, Vietnam - $400,000 awarded for Immreg, a system which brings immunisation records into the digital age in Vietnam. Rather than handwriting records, which can be time-consuming and prone to error, health workers in the Ben Tre province now use a computer or smart phone to monitor vaccine stocks; register pregnant women and newborns; and track what vaccines they have received. They can also remind mothers via text message to get vaccinations for them or their child. This is saving health workers' valuable time and improving access to vaccination. Immreg has cut the time to generate monthly lists of children due for vaccination from one to two days to just 5-30 minutes. Rates of full immunisation in the first year of life increased from 74.3 to 77.8% in a one-year pilot.
Fundación VIHDA, Ecuador - $226,600 awarded for their innovative use of the 'Pratt Pouch'. This foil pouch - similar to a fast-food ketchup sachet - offers a more accurate and efficient way for mothers to give HIV medicines to a newborn. One of the ways to reduce the risk of HIV transmission from mother to child is through the administration of antiretroviral medicines to a newborn immediately after birth and for the first weeks of life. But it can be difficult for parents to measure out the correct dose from a bottle of liquid medicine. Early results indicate that the Pratt Pouch - which is filled with the exact amount of medicine needed per dose - has improved dosing accuracy from 50% to over 90% of mothers delivering highly accurate doses. Mothers surveyed indicated that they found it simple to use, more durable and less wasteful.
2020 MicroClinic Initiative, Kenya - $176,600 awarded for Operation Karibu, a 'welcome programme' of care for new mothers. The first 48 hours of life is the most crucial period for newborn survival so access to healthcare is important at this time. 'OpK' has identified three ways to encourage pregnant women to seek medical care before, during and after birth. Women who give birth in the clinic, attended by a skilled professional, are given a set of baby clothes, including onesies made from recycled cotton t-shirts; emergency transport to the clinic is made available; and a birth companion of the woman's choice is offered training in caring for an infant. Mothers and newborns are monitored via electronic case management for the first 30 days. Over the three-year programme, no maternal or neonatal deaths have been recorded in any of the OpK sites.
SA MRC Maternal and Infant Health Care, South Africa - $176,600 awarded for 'Child PIP', an audit tool for careful review of infant and child deaths in South African hospitals. The primary aim is to enable local healthcare teams to understand the causes of child mortality in their area, in order to improve quality of care. The system allows for all deaths to be identified and for important information to be collected. This includes details on the child’s health and the main cause or causes of death. By identifying previously unseen patterns and ways in which healthcare processes could be changed, the tool has been used to help individual hospitals and the healthcare system as a whole to adapt and improve care for children. Child PIP is now used by healthcare teams in more than half of public hospitals and in all of the country’s nine provinces. Next steps for Child PIP include strengthening the programme and extending it to collect information about deaths in the community.
Commenting on the award, Professor Sir Liam Donaldson, former Chief Medical Officer in England and a member of the judging panel, said: "The creativity and can-do spirit of the applicants for the award, many working in the poorest parts of the world, was deeply inspiring. It is vital that such innovative projects are identified, evaluated and the benefits shared widely."
With their award funding, the winners plan to scale up their innovations so they can further improve access to healthcare. For example, 2020 MicroClinic Initiative will use the funding to scale up operations and demonstrate the impact of OpK on 1,500 babies in rural settings. PATH will expand Immreg to an additional province in Vietnam and also adapt the system to tackle child malnutrition. Immreg will monitor key nutrition indicators such as a child’s weight, height and vitamin A deficiencies. Parents will be sent targeted nutrition messages by text, as well as vaccination reminders. It is estimated this will help improve immunisation coverage and nutrition for 194,425 children under five.
Mona Byrkit, PATH Mekong Programme leader, said: "The Healthcare Innovation Award funding will enable us to take Immreg to another level, expanding functionality to improve nutrition and protecting even more children from vaccine-preventable disease."
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