Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development, was launched March 9, 2011 in Washington D.C. to seek innovative prevention and treatment approaches for pregnant women and newborns in rural, low-resource settings. This partnership leverages the collective resources of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Government of Norway, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada, and The World Bank. Partners expect to provide nearly $14 million for this grant program’s first round of funding. Over 5 years, the partners aim to invest at least $50 million in groundbreaking and sustainable projects with the potential to have a transformative effect on the lives of pregnant women and their babies in the hardest to reach corners of the world.
About 150,000 women and 1.6 million children die each year, mostly in poor countries, around the time of birth. Often these tragic deaths can be easily prevented. The goal of the Saving Lives at Birth program is to leapfrog conventional approaches by stimulating innovation that can improve prevention and treatment services to women and newborns in poor, rural communities.
“To make advances in maternal and newborn health, our real opportunity lies in harnessing the power of innovation—scientific, technological, and behavioral—to build a continuum of invention from bench to bush,” said USAID Administrator Shah. “Innovations in products and the platforms we use to deliver them will allow us to expand our reach to women who will likely never set foot inside a hospital.”
The partnership of funders seeks innovative ideas in three main domains: (1) technology; (2) service delivery; and (3) “demand side” innovations that empower women and their families to be aware of, and access, health care around the time of birth. There is an emphasis on integrated innovations which marry technology, social, and business innovation.
Approaches and partnerships from a wide range of innovators is encouraged from both the public and private sectors, including universities, communities, and individuals transforming the latest scientific, technological, behavior change, and information and communication advances into audacious yet achievable solutions for maternal and newborn health.
Saving Lives at Birth will support the attainment of the UN Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5: to reduce the under-five child mortality by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015; and to improve maternal health by reducing the maternal mortality ratio within the same timeframe.
The deadline for submitting applications is April 29, 2011.