An Award With an Eye on Children and Health Care Systems

GlaxoSmithKline and Save the Children recently announced the launch of its third annual Healthcare Innovation Award, which offers cash awards of up to $1 million to the organizations that have developed innovative approaches to improve child mortality rates for children under the age of five who are living in developing countries. From the looks of things, projects need to have already resulted in “tangible improvements to under-five child survival rates,” and have the potential to be sustainable, replicable and scalable.

Although the overall goal of the Healthcare Innovation Award is to improve child mortality rates, this year, special attention is being paid to organizations working to improve health care systems in developing countries—particularly those that increase access to health care for pregnant women, mothers and children under five.  

Improving health care systems is an area of growing interest for GSK and other like-minded funders—especially since last year’s Ebola outbreak surfaced the very tenuous state of Africa’s health care system. Of the prize, Ramil Burden, vice president for Africa and Developing Countries at GSK, said, “...too many countries still lack the trained health workers and facilities they need to manage everyday health challenges, let alone crises like the catastrophic outbreak of Ebola." He went on to state that GSK hopes that this year’s award will “...identify and support those innovations that are most effectively helping to strengthen health systems so that mothers and children are better able to access the care they need, when they need it.”

Related: GlaxoSmithKline Puts Up Big Numbers for Health Worker Training in Africa

Each winning organization will receive an award of up to $400,000. Depending on how those amounts shake out, it stands to reason that only a handful of organizations, at most, will get a check. Last year, the top prizes of $350,000 each went to the University of KwaZulu-Natal and ColaLife. The university was awarded a top prize for its breast feeding promotion project, which included a mobile app to support the safe pasteurization and storage of human breast milk. ColaLife, based in Zambia, was awarded the other top prize for its project using consumer goods supply chains to deliver diarrhea treatment kits for infants.

Organizations from low-, lower-middle-, and upper-middle-income countries (as determined by the World Bank) are eligible to apply, so long as their projects revolve around improving child mortality rates for children under five who are living in developing countries. GSK and Save the Children’s Healthcare Innovation Award is pretty wide open, which is good, but that also means a pretty crowded field. Any organization applying for the prize better bring its A-game.