Three low-cost, innovative global health projects designed to help save the lives of women and newborns won top awards for Jhpiego this summer at the prestigious Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development competition.
The trio of award-winning projects, including a device engineered through Jhpiego's partnership with the Johns Hopkins Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design, beat out a field of 500 entrants from 60 countries in the competition, which was sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada, the United Kingdom's Department for International Development, and the government of Norway.
The funders sponsored the competition with the goal of creating a community of innovators who could spur development of strategies that can have a significant impact on reducing the more than 250,000 childbirth-related deaths that occur each year, most in the developing world.
Of the 65 finalists that competed in Seattle, only 12 were selected for grants. Jhpiego, an international nonprofit health organization affiliated with Johns Hopkins University, was the only organization that won for more than one application.
Jhpiego's trio of wins represents health care innovation, engineering design, and public health field experience. The projects adapt cellphone technology to devise a noninvasive screening device (designed by CBID undergraduates) for anemia, which accounts for 700,000 deaths a year; create an easier-to-use, less costly model to teach health care providers how to insert an intrauterine contraceptive device after birth and increase access to family planning; and develop a program to equip frontline health care workers at the periphery of the health system with the skills to prevent the leading causes of childbirth-related deaths for women and newborns.
Harshad Sanghvi, vice president and medical director of Jhpiego, says that the organization's success was a recognition of Jhpiego's global health leadership over four decades, a unique collaboration with "exemplary" partners—the Johns Hopkins Department of Biomedical Engineering's CBID program and Laerdal Global Health—and a comprehensive approach to saving the lives of women and newborns. The projects illustrate a continuum of care that begins before a woman gives birth, continues through the day of birth to ensure mother and newborn survive, and follows both to help a family safely plan and space a subsequent pregnancy so all are healthy and thrive.
"Jhpiego, through its work over 40 years and in more than 120 countries, has a very deep understanding of the needs of women and families," says Sanghvi, who leads Jhpiego's Innovations Unit. "We are demonstrating here the significant, comprehensive approaches that will work within communities at the most basic level."