Ugandan health initiative wins share of global US$1 million Healthcare Innovation Award

A Ugandan community health initiative has been awarded US$120,000 to support the expansion of its innovative approach totackling child death sin remote areas by bringing life-saving health services directly to people’s doorsteps.

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Living Goods Uganda is one of four African initiatives to have won a share of the second GSK and Save the Children Healthcare Innovation Award.

The initiative was highlighted during a round table discussion with stakeholders and policy makers convened by GSK and Save the Children today to discuss the impact of the Award on health innovation trends in Uganda.

Living Goods’ entrepreneurial model mirrors direct sales techniques used by cosmetics firms like ‘Avon’. Skilled micro-entrepreneurs known as Community Health Promoters, who work closely with local health authorities, operate as franchisees.

The health promoters travel door-to-door teaching families how to improve their health, and diagnosing and treating patients.

They also sell health products such as bed nets, de-worming pills, anti-malaria and diarrhoea treatments, fortified foods, and water filters.

The Living Goods initiative was launched to address the lack of skilled health workers and scalable, affordable healthcare in rural Uganda.

Alfred Wise, Country Director, Living Goods Uganda, said: “This award will help us significantly increase our network of skilled health promoters, who work closely with their local communities and get to know families by making regular visits over time and gain their trust.

Our cost-effective, entrepreneurial approach focuses on the biggest killers of young children – malaria, diarrhoea, pneumonia, and under-nutrition.”

(L-R) Prof. Anthony Mbonye the Director General Health Services at the Ministry of Health, Ms Barbara Burroughs, the Country Director Save the Children, and Nathan Wasolo, Country Director GSK Uganda, hand over the Healthcare Innovation Award to Alfred Wise, the Country Director Living Goods Uganda at Sheraton Kampala Hotel on February 10, 2015.
(L-R) Prof. Anthony Mbonye the Director General Health Services at the Ministry of Health, Ms Barbara Burroughs, the Country Director Save the Children, and Nathan Wasolo, Country Director GSK Uganda, hand over the Healthcare Innovation Award to Alfred Wise, the Country Director Living Goods Uganda at Sheraton Kampala Hotel on February 10, 2015.

Ramil Burden, Vice President, Africa and Developing Countries, GSK, said: “Living Goods’ entrepreneurial solution to helping cut deaths in children under five stood out for its low-cost, low-tech, yet sustainable approach.

The impact of the Community Health Promoters on rural communities, demonstrates a great social return on investment.”

Barbara Burroughs, Save the Children Uganda, Country Programme Director, said: “In order to bring life-saving healthcare to the hardest to reach children, there is a need for ambitious new ideas and collaboration.

So it is fantastic that the Healthcare Innovation Award has recognised an innovation that is bringing life-saving health support to remote communities and helping to save children’s lives.

Through the recognition and funding from this Award this initiative can help make a bigger impact for some of the most vulnerable children.

GSK and Save the Children are also working together to campaign for Universal Health Coverage – the principle that governments in low-income countries need to be able to raise and spend more money on health and to ensure services are provided to all based on need, not ability to pay.”

Community Health Promoters have a particular focus on serving expectant mothers and babies, promoting early antenatal care and encouraging pregnant women to deliver with a skilled attendant in a health facility.

In the areas where they operate, an independent evaluation by Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL)1found that deaths of children under five had been cut by 25 per cent.

Living Goods Uganda currently supports 660 Community Health Promoters, directly serving more than 350,000 people in nine locations including Kampala, Wakiso, Masaka, Jinja, Mukono, Mpigi and Lira.

Over the next four years, the award money will be used to help recruit, train, equip, and deploy more than 2,000 Community Health Promoters, directly serving more than a million people.

The initiative also aims to replicate its model in other countries, which has already proven successful in Mozambique, Myanmar, Peru and Kenya.

The Healthcare Innovation Award is a key initiative delivered as part of an ambitious partnership between GSK and Save the Children, which aims to deliver a new model for corporate-charity working to help save the lives of one million of the world’s most vulnerable children.

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