April 30, 2018    Follow us on Twitter   View our videos on YouTube
2018 World Immunization Week Ends April 30th! 
Photo: WHO   
From April 24th ---  30th, 2018, the World Health Organization celebrates World Immunization Week. The goal of World Immunization Week is to urge greater action on immunization around the world. This year's theme is "Protected Together, #VaccinesWork", encouraging people at every level ---  from donors to the general public ---  to go further in their efforts to increase immunization coverage for the greater good of the planet.

Immunization has had a dramatically positive impact worldwide. Polio cases have decreased by over 99% since 1988; measles deaths dropped by 84% between 2000 and 2016; 116.5 million infants worldwide received 3 doses of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine in 2016, protecting them against infectious diseases that can cause serious illness and disability. SL@B innovator Emory University has developed a microneedle patch  to overcome the major hurdles for effective vaccination coverage in developing countries. This innovation enables minimally trained personnel to deliver influenza and tetanus toxoid vaccines to the skin of pregnant women. The patches are formulated to dissolve, releasing the vaccine quickly, with no biohazard sharp waste.

Key Takeaways: Responsible Maternity Care (RMC) Webinar 
A woman rests with her baby in a government hospital in Buchanan, Liberia. Photo: Kate Holt for Jhpiego/MCSP. 
"Many women reported that they did not understand what happened during their delivery because it was never explained to them..."
Rose Molina, obstetrician/gynecologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Center and research fellow at Ariadne Labs.
In recognition of International Day of Maternal Health and Rights (IDMHR, April 11th), Ariadne Labs and the Maternal Health Task Force co-hosted a webinar exploring ways in which to integrate respectful maternity care (RMC) into quality improvement initiatives. Speakers shared insight through the lenses of research, midwifery, obstetrics/ gynecology and program implementation.

The concept of RMC promotes pushback against stigma/discrimination and a lack of clear communication between patient and provider to improve the overall quality of the continuum of care. According to Ariadne Labs BetterBirth Program Director Katherine Semrau, "Implementing respectful maternity care practices requires recognizing individual needs and desires of women and what their choices are around the time of labor and delivery." Obstetrician/gynecologist Rose Molina, outlined how her team  focused on communication and women-centered care to provide a checklist of options during childbirth. While respectful maternity practices are important fundamentally in terms of ethics and human rights, they also influence maternal health outcomes-women who are disrespected or abused during childbirth are less likely to deliver in a facility in a subsequent pregnancy and may not seek facility-based care in the future.

This year, IDMHR fell three weeks after a watershed case in which a Kenyan woman was awarded 25,000 USD in compensation by a court in Bungoma, Kenya for the disrespect and abuse she suffered during childbirth in 2013.

Creating an Enabling Financial Environment for African Start-ups  
Photo: The African Exponent
In an op-ed for the African Exponent, author Milton Zaka argues that innovation plays a key role in sustainable development of the African continent. Startups, which have been driving innovation in Africa, require capital and access to investments in order to thrive.In 2017, a total of 159 startups raised $195 million ---  an increase from the previous year's investment levels according to Disrupt Africa.

Zaka stresses: "The provision of innovative and quality products as well as modern services will enable better healthcare, increased access to education, improved social life, poverty reduction and better quality of life. It will also contribute to the economic growth of African countries, and should be promoted by government, businesses, academia and other relevant agencies."

Creating a Global Model for Caring for Disaster-Affected Children
Photo Graphic: Dorothy Kigosi
The needs of children during and after a disaster are often overlooked and under-addressed. Due to anatomical, physiological, immunological, developmental and psychological nuances, children require specialized care and are more vulnerable than adults in disaster scenarios. Children need different dosages and formulations of medicines as compared to adults, for example, as well as specific forms of personal protective equipment.

To tackle this gap, advocates of a legally binding model for global care of disaster-affected children are calling for "a new, rights-based model for the caring of children during and after disasters" built on elements such as disaster-wide (vs. country-wide) platforms, children's budgets for emergencies, and making children's rights known, among others. These advocates highlight the need for an increased focused and social responsibility to provide sufficient advocacy and thoughtful interventions for children in disaster-stricken areas.

Modern Technologies and How They Can Help Impoverished Nations 
A lab technician tests blood samples using modern technology in a health clinic in Monrovia, Liberia. Photo: Kate Holt for Jhpiego/MCSP
SL@B partner, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has launched a new initiative called Pathways for Prosperity: Commission on Technology and Inclusive Development. At a recent session of the Skoll World Forum called "Emerging Technologies: Shifting the Path from Poverty to Prosperity," participants discussed several potential strategic priorities of the initiative, including the impact of rapid technological change on developing countries and ideas for providing opportunities for the world's poorest populations.

"A lot of people working in the tech space, they are pushing technology for the sake of technology as a solution, and then looking for a problem they can apply to it," said former chief economist at the United Kingdom's Department for International Development Stefan Dercon. Other experts at the session agreed that issues of technology and its impact tend to be oversimplified.

Save the Date:
Saving Lives at Birth DevelopmentXChange
Washington, D.C., July 26, 2018
Photo: USAID
The Saving Lives at Birth partners warmly invite you to the 8th annual DevelopmentXChange in Washington, D.C. on July 26th to meet some of the most cutting-edge innovators in the sphere of maternal and newborn health.

The Development X Change is a key feature of the Saving Lives at Birth program, bringing together a community of diverse innovators who are tackling this challenge through advancements in science and technology, innovative service delivery models and novel demand generation approaches. Over the last 7 years, we have sourced and supported 115 distinct innovations and seen many of our recipients receive global recognition and accolades for the impact they have achieved; this year, our program received an impressive set of nearly 500 applications.

Event Activities of Interest
  • Watch entrepreneurs, implementers, and pioneers show how they are pushing the boundaries of innovation during our live Pitch Competition.
  • Explore our open Marketplace and learn about some of today's most cutting-edge technologies and interventions improving maternal and newborn health, from competing finalists and current grantees.
  • Network with experts, partners, current Saving Lives at Birth grantees, and the Saving Lives at Birth Round 8 finalists during our reception.
Mark your calendars! An invitation and link to register will follow in May. Click here to see a recap of last year's Development X Change .
SL@B Round 7 Innovator Awards: Get to Know the Nominees
SL@B nominated 15 finalists for awards from over 550 applications for the 2017 Saving Lives at Birth Grand Challenge. For the next several months, the SL@B Grand Challenge Digest will highlight two new innovators from our portfolio. Learn more about one of this year's nominees:    

University College London (London, UK)

With SL@B support, University College London will utilize advanced, yet affordable smartphone technologies to screen newborns in Ghana for severe jaundice ---  a condition which affects 18% of newborns worldwide and is a significant avoidable cause of death and disability. The smartphone app measures bilirubin levels based on sclera colour, which differs from standard non-invasive techniques that measure levels based on skin colour, such as transcutaneous bilirubinometers (TcB).

UCL's vision is to provide a reliable, low-cost diagnostic technique in a low-resourced, rural setting so that at-risk newborns can be identified early and receive timely treatment.

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