'Oscars' for health care innovation are back

A nurse holds the hand of a newborn baby, who is receiving bCPAP treatment in Malawi. The device known as bCPAP (bubble Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) was chosen to win the top award in the 2013 Healthcare Innovation Award. Photo by: Greg Funnell / Save the Children

GlaxoSmithKline and Save the Children are reopening their doors for innovative solutions to reduce under-5 child mortality.

The second edition of the $1 million Healthcare Innovation Award will be formally launched at the two-day Partners’ Forum on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health slated to start Monday in Johannesburg, South Africa, Devex learned. At the forum, global health professionals will take stock of the progress and identify factors contributing to success, including innovation, as well as commit to actions ensuring the health of women and children.

“They're all coming together to look at how we can be coordinated on maternal and child health issues post-2015,” according to Dr. Allan Pamba, vice president for East Africa at GSK.

Launching the award on behalf of GSK and Save the Children, Pamba once likened it to Hollywood’s Oscars because of the recognition it could bring and the great work that is likely to ensue.

That appears to be the case for the winners: All of them are in the process of scaling up the solutions within their countries, and some are looking at replicating them in others. Moreover, ministries of health have recognized or are now partnering with the awardees to implement their innovative products or services.

Friends of Sick Children — which won the $400,000 grand prize in the award’s maiden edition for its low-cost device that helps newborn babies in respiratory distress survive — for instance, plans to train health care professionals and bring the technology to three of Malawi’s neighboring countries — South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia.

“So that by the end of this year, they would have scaled up to all those other countries,” Pamba said. “And this is how they've used the award money that we gave them.”

Citing the impressive results, GSK and Save the Children aim to make the Healthcare Innovation Award a yearly event.

Stay tuned for tips on how to create a winning application for the Healthcare Innovation Award and lessons learned from the first edition of the award.

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About the author

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    Ma. Eliza Villarino

    Eliza is a veteran journalist focused on covering the most pressing issues and latest innovations in global health, humanitarian aid, sustainability, and development. A member of Mensa, Eliza has earned a master's degree in public affairs and bachelor's degree in political science from the University of the Philippines.