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$1 million healthcare innovation award up for grabs

Health

$1 million healthcare innovation award up for grabs

Save the Children’s Chief of Party Dr. Hanifer Ssengendo, Left, shows how a simple breathing tool can help a babe with breathing difficulties

Global pharmaceuticals manufacturer Glaxo SmithKline together with Save the Children have  announced the launch of their second annual $1 million Healthcare Innovation Award.

Announcing the award at the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health meeting in South Africa, last week, Sir Andrew Witty, CEO, GSK said the award was established to identify and reward innovations in healthcare that have proven successful in reducing child deaths in developing countries.

Organisers of the competition say that organisations from across the developing world can nominate examples of innovative healthcare approaches they have discovered or implemented. Nominations are open from the 27 June – 25 August, 2014.

“These approaches must have resulted in tangible improvements to under-5 child survival rates, be sustainable and have the potential to be scaled-up and replicated. This year, special interest and attention will be given to work that aims to increase the quality of, or access to, healthcare for newborns,”

In Uganda, Save the Children has been promoting the use of several low cost measures such as a simple injection given to pregnant mothers at the risk of giving birth too soon, plus the use of a Kangaroo kit, can greatly help mothers to guard against needless death death of their children.

Diane Francisco, the Program Development and Quality Director at Save the Children Uganda, said at the launch of the Organisation’s ground breaking report titled: Surviving the First Day, State of the World Mothers in 2013, said that the use of a simple injectable antibiotic to treat common bacterial infections such as pneumonia and the use of a chemical to clean umbilical cords can together prevent nearly 4 deaths of new born babies. The combined cost of both methods is between Ushs 2,500 and Ushs 6,000.

However, poor budget priorities in the national and health budgets means that majority of Uganda’s health centres operate without these vital tools resulting into up to 14 babies in Uganda to succumb to simple infections or breathing difficulties on the first day of life.

According to Surviving the First Day, State of the World Mothers in 2013, up to 42,700 children in Uganda die every year before they make one month.

Last year the top prize in the GSK-Save the Children competition was awarded to Friends of Sick Children (FOSC), Malawi, for their ‘bubble’ Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) kit, which demonstrates the impact of simple, low-cost innovations. The ‘bubble’ helps babies that are in respiratory distress, often caused by acute infections like pneumonia, by keeping their lungs inflated so they can breathe more easily. A similar version is already commonly used in developed countries where they cost at least $6,000 each. This innovative low-cost ‘bubble’ CPAP adaptation can be produced for approximately $400.

FOSC was granted an award of $400,000, which along with backing from the Ministry of Health in Malawi, will enable them and their partners to share this life-saving technology with teaching hospitals in Tanzania, Zambia and South Africa.

Co-chaired by Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GSK, and Justin Forsyth, CEO of Save the Children, a judging panel, made up of experts from the fields of public health, science and academia, will award part of the overall funds to the best healthcare innovation to support further progress. The remaining funds will be made available for runners-up awards as directed by the judging panel.

Sir Andrew Witty, CEO, GSK said: “We are committed to working in partnership with other organisations and our work with Save the Children is a great example of how we can use our scientific expertise and reach to help improve health outcomes for people around the world. As a direct result of this award last year’s winners have already had a tremendous impact and we want to continue to support them as they develop innovations that can be scaled-up and replicated to help reduce child deaths in the world’s poorest countries.”

Justin Forsyth, Chief Executive, Save the Children said: “We know that in order to bring life-saving healthcare to the hardest to reach children, ambitious new ideas and approaches are needed. Last year’s Healthcare Innovation Award found new innovations that are saving children’s lives and can be replicated to help reach even more children. This year, we look forward to discovering more pioneering solutions that will make a bigger impact for the world’s most vulnerable children.”

While good progress has been made in recent years, every year 6.2 million children worldwide still die before their fifth birthday. Often these children are in the most remote and marginalised communities. The GSK and Save the Children Healthcare Innovation Award aims to discover and encourage replication of the best and most innovative examples of healthcare to have the biggest impact for vulnerable children.

The Healthcare Innovation Award was announced following the launch of GSK and Save the Children’s ambitious new partnership in May 2013, which aims to save the lives of 1 million children in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.

One of the most unique aspects of the partnership is the focus on working together to maximise innovations to tackle under-5 child mortality. For example, Save the Children is involved in helping GSK to research and develop child-friendly medicines, with a seat on a new paediatric R&D board to accelerate progress on innovative life-saving interventions for under-fives, and to identify ways to ensure the widest possible access in the developing world.

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