Innovations for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health - Global Research Partner

Dates: 2012-2016

Countries: Ghana, Kenya, Sierra Leone

Client(s): Concern Worldwide

Service: Monitoring, Evaluation, and Research

Technical Expertise: Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation


The Innovations for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health initiative was a multi-year grant, led by Concern Worldwide, to find and test ambitious new ideas with the potential to overcome barriers to accessing maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) services and significantly improve delivery of these services. JSI was the global research partner for the initiative, providing technical oversight and support for research, monitoring and evaluation and portfolio level learning across nine projects. JSI worked with the Innovations team to develop innovative ways to collect and use data through methods such as rapid prototyping.

To define project interventions, Innovations went directly to members of communities in project localities, seeking suggestions and ideas from unheard or unconventional voices and those often excluded from healthcare planning and decision making. The process of generating ideas was based on iteration, ensuring ongoing feedback from various groups, while remaining true to the ideas presented by communities.

In 2010, Innovations launched a call for ideas to address barriers to MNCH problems in Malawi, Sierra Leone and India (Odisha). Seeking ideas from unconventional sources, Innovations came away with thousands of ideas. From these, a first set of ideas were selected based on pre-identified criteria and “Phase I” projects were launched in districts in the three countries. Then, in 2011, Innovations held facilitated workshops to spur creative thinking for transformative public health ideas. These workshops resulted in several hundred new ideas from local community members, mothers, healthcare and government workers, students and global domain experts. Ideas were refined and brought back to communities, where local-level discussion and inputs resulted in innovative projects that were designed to reflect local contexts and in-depth understanding of the actors, constraints, and opportunities.

The ideas formed the basis for five "Phase II" projects implemented in Ghana, Kenya, and Sierra Leone. Interventions ranged from designing a mobile health platform to increase motivation among remotely deployed health workers to a collaborative network among bioengineers in a national hospital and local hackers and tinkerers to design low cost solutions to improving the supply of essential MNCH medical equipment.


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