2013 Innovators

A pool of over 400 applicants has been winnowed down to 53 finalists. We received applications from non-profit organizations, universities and university affiliates, and for-profit organizations submitting innovative solutions that cut across technology, service delivery, and demand.  From July 29-31, the finalists will compete in the last stage of review at the Development XChange in Washington, DC. 

Vote now for your favorite innovations! Between now and July 31st 11:00 am EST, review the 53 finalists’ innovations from Round 3 and vote for the most pioneering ones.  The winner of the People’s Choice Award will be announced on July 31st.

  • To vote, register/sign-in.
  • Click on the star next to your favorite finalists.
  • To undo your vote, click the "x". 
  • Vote for as many finalists as you wish. 
Organization Organization Location Project
Aarhus University Aarhus, Denmark

Our idea is to reduce by half the incidence of postpartum hemorrhage (PPH), fresh stillbirths, and early neonatal deaths in a clinical trial by improving Ghanaian delivery personnel's clinical management of these emergencies via a low-cost smart phone intervention. Training of delivery staff can reduce by half the incidence of PPH, stillbirth, and early neonatal deaths. In Ghana, however, there is no ongoing training program due to cost limitations. Video training is no less effective than hands-on training, and smart phone training could be a feasible low-cost alternative.

An Investigation of Smart Phone Application in Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care in Ghana
Aga Khan Health Services, Afghanistan Kabul, Afghanistan

The provinces of Badakshan and Bamyan have among the highest maternal mortality in the world due to harsh geographic and weather conditions and difficult access to health facilities. The Aga Khan Health Service, Afghanistan (AKHS,A) has introduced Maternity Waiting Homes (MWH) in some facilities to encourage mothers with high-risk pregnancies to stay in these facilities for 2-3 weeks before and after delivery to ensure supervised labor and better neonatal care. AKHS,A, along with other partners, is already running telehealth services in these provinces.

Strong answer to a tough problem: Making Maternity Waiting Homes more effective to save lives of mothers and babies in Afghanistan through innovative approaches
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Boston, MA, USA

One out of every 1000 births throughout Africa inexplicably leads to maternal heart failure, known as peripartum Cardiomyopathy (PPCM). 20% of these women die, as do most of their newborn children. The only treatment for severe PPCM is cardiac transplantation-- not a feasible option in the developing world. The cause of PPCM remained unclear until recently. Our recently published work has identified endogenous anti-vascular factors as triggers for PPCM. We have now additionally discovered a class of medications that blocks secretion of these factors.

Saving Hearts and Mothers At Birth
Center for Health Solutions and Innovations Philippines, Inc. Makati City, Philippines

Scaled up and focused efforts to reduce maternal and neonatal deaths are urgently needed in the Philippines. Our team will utilize SMS through cell phones and mobile-based branchless banking to target women and families with critical health information and referrals, and to promote financial preparedness and savings for facility-based births. Building on BanKO's ongoing client expansion among low-income groups in rural areas, this initiative links mobile banking services and platforms with health promotion to save lives of vulnerable mothers and newborns.

Making Births Safer through Mobile Banking Services (MBS2)
Changamka Microhealth Limited Nairobi, Kenya

Our plan is to scale up a proven, innovative e-voucher-which covers the costs of maternity care and transportation to clinics-with the addition of SMS reminders. Together they can reduce financial and informational barriers to care and dramatically increase skilled facility-based deliveries in rural Kenya. We will further innovate and test ways to overcome cultural and gender-based constraints to maternal health care by sending financial incentives to traditional birth attendants and SMSs to husbands to motivate them to encourage women to deliver in facilities.

Scaling proven mobile maternal health e-vouchers in Western Kenya
Department of Emergency Medicine, University of New Mexico Albuquerque, NM, USA

Obstetric hemorrhage remains a major cause of death and disability for young women in low resource areas, particularly those from isolated rural areas. Most hemorrhage is postpartum and due to failure of the uterus to respond to hormonal stimulation. However, not all hemorrhage is due to atony and not all atonic uteruses respond to medications. Pneumatic anti-shock garments (PASG) have the potential to minimize blood loss, complications, and mortality from obstetric hemorrhage due to any etiology.

Pneumatic anti-shock garments for obstetric hemorrhage in an integrated healthcare system
Dimagi, Inc. Cambridge, MA, USA

Prolonged and obstructed labor is one of the leading causes of maternal and newborn mortality and of serious maternal morbidities, such as obstetric fistula. Currently, a low-tech paper form—the partograph—is universally recommended by the World Health Organization. However, despite decades of training and investment, correct use of the paper partograph remains low. We propose an innovative use of Smartphone and tablet technology to improve the service delivery provided by health workers to detect and correctly manage these complications.

mLabor: a mobile application to support labor monitoring and the early detection and management of serious maternal and fetal complications
Evestra, Inc. San Antonio, TX, USA

The objective of this proposal is to develop an effective, conveniently administered, low-cost, topical, semi-solid, room-temperature-stable, progestin-containing product for the treatment of preterm birth (PTB). Progestins have been demonstrated to help prevent recurrent preterm labor and decrease PTB rates in high-risk women. Clinical studies have indicated that women treated with naturally occurring progesterone (P4) have reduced rates of PTB. Women with a history of PTB and those found to have a short cervix now often receive P4 off-label throughout their pregnancies.

An Effective, Safe and Convenient Approach to Treat Pre-term Birth
Family Health International (FHI 360) Durham, NC, USA

Healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies can reduce deaths among children under age five by one-third. Preventing unplanned pregnancies can eliminate up to 40 percent of maternal deaths. The Mobile for Reproductive Health (m4RH) program has the potential to dramatically increase contraceptive use among women in countries with the greatest need.

Globalization of m4RH: Increasing Evidence, Expanding Implementation, and Modeling Sustainability to Improve Health and Save Lives
Farm Radio International Ottawa, Canada

Most life-threatening obstetric complications occur during labor and delivery. The "three delays model" identifies three delays that contribute to maternal and newborn mortality when emergencies occur during childbirth: delay in deciding to seek care, in reaching a care facility, and in actually receiving care. Women's access to antenatal care and trained care at birth, including emergency obstetric and neonatal care, is proven to significantly reduce maternal and neonatal mortality.

Husbands as Partners Campaign: Championing Men as Partners in Reducing Maternal and Neonatal Mortality in Senegal
Jhpiego Corporation Baltimore, MD, USA

Jhpiego, in partnership with the Community Cooker Foundation (CCF), proposes modifying a proven cost-effective and environmentally safe innovation, the Community Cooker (CC), for waste disposal in health care settings in Kenya.  Maternity wards are one of the highest producers of medical waste. Unsafe disposal of medical waste in health facilities can lead to life-threatening infections including sepsis, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV and others. Fifteen percent of maternal deaths and 25% of neonatal deaths are due to sepsis and other infections.

Reducing Maternal and Newborn Infections with an Energy Generating Incinerator
Jhpiego Corporation Baltimore, MD, USA

Postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) remains the leading cause of maternal mortality and morbidity worldwide, representing one out of every four maternal deaths that occur annually. The tamponade-approach has proven 80-90% effective in PPH management, and can decrease the need for referral and advanced surgical care, as well as preserve the reproductive capacity of young women who experience PPH.

Adapt: Empowering and equipping health workers to manage PPH safely and confidently
Makerere University - Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Kampala, Uganda

Using the principle that "every system is designed to get the results it gets," reorganizing the labor ward at Mulago Hospital is critical to combating the high rates of fetal, neonatal, and maternal death. With 100 deliveries per day, there are 3 intrapartum fetal deaths daily, 4 maternal deaths weekly, and a decision to cesarean interval of 6 hours. Cesareans account for 24% and vacuum for only 0.4% of deliveries.

From reactive to proactive: reorganizing the labor ward to save lives

Maternal and newborn death rates are still high in Tanzania. There is an insufficient number of healthcare workers with adequate skills to provide emergency obstetric (EmOC) and newborn care services in most health facilities. Poor road infrastructure and the long distance between health facilities has a negative impact on mentorship and technical support of health providers, as well as patient referrals.

Lifesaving Call box and telemedicine to increase access to Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care
Massachusetts General Hospital Boston, MA, USA

Lack of access to laboratory testing for prevalent diseases in resource-limited settings is a major concern for maternal and newborn health. Although a market for affordable point-of-care testing is emerging, the price point for commercial single-use lancets is prohibitive for most countries. As a result, many healthcare providers are forced to choose between multiple uses of a lancet/needle and the inability to test for disease or administer medication. To solve this dilemma, we propose development of a low-cost (under 5 cents), biocompatible, biodegradable non-reusable lancet.

An affordable, biodegradable single-use lancet: increasing access for pregnant women and newborns to safe, point-of-care testing in resource-limited settings
Medicines for Humanity Rockland, MA, USA

Cameroon has made a package of priority prenatal and delivery services available to pregnant women at a partially subsidized cost, but still has some of the worst maternal mortality rates and neonatal mortality rates in Africa (782 per 100,000 and 33 per 1000 respectively). A large percentage of pregnant women, particularly in rural areas, are not accessing available services because of remaining financial and informational barriers. This project enables pregnant women to self-insure transportation costs and co-payment fees associated with their pregnancy and delivery care.

Healthy Baby Djangi Funds (HBDFs) Save Lives in Cameroon
Monash University Clayton, Austrailia

This project will involve the development of a novel aerosol delivery system for oxytocin that can be inhaled by patients from a simple, disposable device immediately after childbirth for the management of postpartum hemorrhage (PPH). This approach will address several of the current roadblocks to healthy pregnancies by (a) providing a more stable formulation of oxytocin that does not require cold-chain storage, and (b) removing the need for highly trained health workers for administration.

Phase I Clinical Evaluation of Inhaled Oxytocin
Patan Academy of Health Sciences, Uppsala University Lalitpur, Nepal and Uppsala, Sweden

Robust evidence shows that delayed cord clamping (DCC) of a vigorous child after birth is superior for neonatal health compared to early clamping. The benefit in low-income settings is even more evident given the limited resources available for postpartum care. DCC will allow for a prolonged transfusion of blood from mother to child resulting in a lower rate of neonatal anemia, serious neonatal infection, and brain hemorrhage, and also a better iron supply during early infancy.

Delayed cord clamping for the new-born in need of neonatal resuscitation
Phoenix Medical Systems (P) Limited Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Low resource environments present many challenges for maternal and neonatal healthcare delivery, such as a lack of basic equipment to protect newborns, particularly at-risk neonates. Most rural healthcare facilities lack even a simple incubator/warmer. Additionally mothers face social pressure to return home with the infant immediately after delivery. Such cultural factors inhibit care-giving, further decreasing chances of infant survival. Through previous seed-funding from NCIIA, we built a prototype and improved it based on feedback from NGOs and rural healthcare workers in India.

Low-cost disposable incubator (warmer/cooler) for reducing infant mortality and infection.
Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) Seattle, WA, USA

We propose developing and testing an interactive mobile game designed to extend and augment the current neonatal and postnatal information delivered by accredited social health activists and learning groups to pregnant and new mothers in three rural locations in Uttar Pradesh, India. The game will build on an existing short message service quiz game using an engine technology developed by Ayogo Health Inc., a serious games company based in Vancouver, BC, and will incorporate content developed under PATH's work with mothers groups in India.

Roshini - Play to Live
Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) Seattle, WA, USA

In Myanmar, an estimated 80% of maternal deaths occur at home, and 31% are caused by postpartum hemorrhage. This project will work with the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Myanmar to help them achieve their goal of reducing maternal mortality by implementing a comprehensive postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) control strategy that includes the phased introduction of the non-pneumatic anti-shock garment (NASG) down to the lowest possible point of care. Although the WHO and the FIGO have both formally recommended use of the NASG, to date the NASG has only been used at the facility level.

Comprehensive postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) control strategy in Myanmar that includes the controlled introduction of the non-pneumatic anti-shock garment (NASG)

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that when skilled health workers are not available, trained community health workers (CHW) who are linked to the health care system can conduct home visits to screen for and refer neonates with danger signs. Most of the signs that WHO recommends that CHWs look for can be assessed by simple observation or by asking the mother. The exceptions are fast breathing, which requires counting and the use of a timer or watch, and high/low temperature, which requires the use of a thermometer.

Testing and development of the Infant Respiratory Rate Sensor (IRRS) device to improve the identification of sick neonates in developing countries
Rice University Houston, TX, USA

Neonatal sepsis accounts for 15% of the 3 million neonatal deaths worldwide. 98% of all neonatal sepsis deaths occur in developing regions, where there is a lack of adequate sepsis diagnostics. Rapid, point-of-care sepsis diagnostics have the potential to significantly decrease neonatal mortality in the developing world. To meet this need, we propose to develop a rapid, low-cost, quantitative point-of-care diagnostic test for neonatal sepsis for low-resource settings.

High-Performance, Low-Cost Diagnosis of Neonatal Sepsis at the Point-of-Care
Stellenbosch University Cape Town, South Africa

The first well-documented case of a probable HIV-1 cure by early infant combination antiretroviral therapy (cART), initiated within hours after birth, has recently been publicized. Recent evidence also suggests that very early cART would improve prognosis, even when cure is not achieved. Diagnosis of HIV-1 within 48h of birth indicates intra-uterine infection, which most often occurs in the days preceding delivery, thus offering a unique opportunity to treat HIV-1 at a very early stage. A highly sensitive point-of-care assay would facilitate diagnosis in a busy labor ward setting.

Towards infant AIDS cures through early combination antiretroviral therapy (cART): investigating novel diagnostics.
The Brigham and Women's Hospital Boston, MA, USA

Complications of preterm birth are the leading cause of neonatal mortality globally. Our aim is to improve early recognition of preterm infants in a setting with 90% home birth and to link these high-risk babies with effective interventions to reduce neonatal morbidity and mortality. For SL@B1 and in collaboration with the World Health Organization, we are currently validating a range of methods to identify preterm infants by first-level health workers. To transition to scale, our next step is "proof-of-concept" of the final preterm assessment.

Linking Preterm Infants with Special Care in rural Bangladesh: Improving Identification and Management of Babies "Born too soon"
The Research Foundation of the State University of New York Buffalo, NY, USA

Indoor air pollution from burning biomass fuels increases the risk of low birth weight, prematurity, and pneumonia. With ≈1% of the Zambian population having access to improved stoves, most pregnant women and neonates are unprotected from indoor air pollutants. Little effort is invested in identifying interventions to reduce exposure of pregnant women and neonates to fine particles and carbon monoxide.

Babies Breathing Better
The University of British Columbia Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Worldwide pre-eclampsia is the 2nd leading cause of maternal death, killing 76,000 pregnant women and 500,000 fetuses and infants each year. With Saving Lives at Birth (2011) seed funding, we developed a ground-breaking solution to this global health challenge. "PIERS on the Move" integrates our two innovations: the miniPIERS (Pre-eclampsia Integrated Estimate of RiSk) predictive model, which can accurately stratify women into risk categories up to a week before complications arise and without laboratory tests; and the Phone Oximeter.

PIERS on the Move: Pre-eclampsia Integrated Estimate of RiSk assessment on a mobile phone
Trustees of Boston University, BUMC Boston, MA, USA

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) improves health and long-term survival of people living with HIV, but only if high adherence is maintained. Several studies have found perilously low ART adherence in pregnant and postpartum women (PPPW), the consequences which are dire: disease progression and death in women; HIV infection, death and orphanhood for babies; and a rise in drug resistant HIV.

WiseMama Zambia: Feasibility, Acceptability and Preliminary Effect of Wireless Technology to Improve Adherence to Antiretroviral Therapy in Pregnant and Postpartum Women
University of Toronto, Sunnybrook Research Institute Toronto, Ontario, Canada

We aim to detect rural pregnancies at high-risk of maternal and perinatal mortality by training nurse-midwives to incorporate a simple, one-time, point-of-care, 3rd trimester ultrasound into their routine practice. Standard-of-care in most rural, resource-limited settings does not include prenatal ultrasound. Traditional barriers include limited training opportunities for non-physicians and lack of evidence around best practices for screening when presentation is delayed until 3rd trimester or onset of labor.

3rd trimester, point-of-care, pocket ultrasound protocol by midwives to prevent maternal and perinatal mortality in rural Kenya, Ghana, Burundi, Haiti, and Peru
Violet Health Inc New York, NY, USA

Iron deficiency anemia affects 42% of all pregnant women across the globe, and contributes to 20% of all maternal deaths and low birth weight and pre-term births. Studies show improving hemoglobin by 1gm/L results in a 25% reduction in maternal morbidity. Taking iron pills daily is the status quo solution for addressing maternal anemia, but the average adherence is abysmally low (particularly in low-resource settings) and efforts to reduce anemia have stalled. In India the average adherence for women with iron pills is just 35%.

Efficacy and Cost-Effectiveness of a Culturally Appropriate Iron Fortified Food for Pregnant Women in India
Wits Health Consortium Johannesburg, South Africa

In South Africa, the maternal mortality ratio is estimated to be 310 per 100000 live births, a number which is high due in large part to many women not attending antenatal care or not doing so before 20 weeks into their pregnancy. Late attendance is due to a number of factors including women's lack of understanding of the benefits. Given the high rates of HIV, TB, and hypertension within South Africa, it is important for these high-risk pregnancies to be identified early.

Demanding Better: Demand generation and service provision to save lives at birth in Johannesburg