Save the Children partnership

How we’re working with Save the Children to save one million children’s lives

Every day 15,000 children under the age of five die - most from preventable causes. We’re working together with Save the Children to change that.

Our pioneering and powerful partnership with Save the Children has now been extended to 2022.  We continue to work together combining GSK’s scientific and manufacturing expertise with Save the Children’s on-the-ground experience to find new ways to help bring down the number of children dying from preventable and treatable diseases.

Mouthwash to medicine

Find out how our scientists have adapted an ingredient from a GSK mouthwash into a potentially life-saving gel for newborns in developing countries, in partnership with Save the Children.

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Almost 6 million children under the age of five die every year from preventable causes. Since 2000, significant progress has been made globally to reduce the rate of child deaths, however more needs to be done to prevent children dying unnecessarily.

Children in Orange United t-shirts releasing orange balloons
School children in grade five at Meles Sanka Elementary School. Photo: Colin Crowley

Making a change

In 2013 we embarked on an ambitious global partnership with Save the Children that is combining the two organisations’ global expertise, skills and energy to tackle the ambitious goal of helping to save one million children’s lives. Together we are finding new ways to help reduce child mortality.

  • 5.9 million

    children under 5 died in 2015 from preventable diseases

The partnership goes well beyond the traditional charity corporate fundraising model. We are combining our capabilities in R&D, supply chain, procurement and vaccines with Save the Children’s expertise working with the most vulnerable children.

Specifically, the GSK and Save the Children partnership focuses on:

  • improving access to basic healthcare – prevention and treatment – where the need is greatest
  • training and equipping health workers in the poorest communities
  • developing child-friendly medicines
  • working at local and global levels to call for stronger child health policies

Since launching our partnership, we have reached over 2.8 million children in 45 countries. Over 97,000 children under-five have been fully immunised and over 187,800 children have been treated for diarrhoea, malaria or pneumonia.

Our chlorhexidine gel, formulated from the simple antiseptic commonly used in mouthwash, has been used to treat the umbilical cords of over 30,000 newborns in Kenya and protect the babies from potentially life-threatening infection.

Newborn baby Bianca, six hours old wrapped in a blanket in Kenya.
Bianca, six hours old, in Kopsiro Health Facility in Bungoma County Kenya. Photo: Colin Crowley

Hear some of the stories of how our partnership with Save the Children has impacted children and their families around the world.

Kyaut Shin Thant, a baby in a sleeping basket
Photo: Jordi Ruiz Cirera / Save the Children

Two-month-old Kyaut Shin Thant lies on her bed in Kani Township, Myanmar.

Her mum, Thin Thin Wai, 25, received emergency referral support from Save the Children including funds for transportation and meals during her stay at the hospital for the delivery of her baby. She also received prenatal and postnatal care by the midwife who has been supported by Save the Children’s programme, funded through GSK’s 20% Reinvestment Initiative.

Helen, a child in the Early Childhood Development Centre
Photo: Save the Children

Helen (2 years old) in an Early Childhood Development Centre supported by GSK in Quito, Ecuador.

Helen spends most of her time in the centre, as her parents work far away from where they live. Her mother, Sonia, works at a fast food restaurant, one-and-a-half hours away, and her father, Victor, works as a bus driver for a school in one of Quito's neighbouring valleys.

Hassan, a patient in Syria.
Photo: Nour Wahid/Save the Children

5-year-old Hassan* fled Syria 3 years ago wakes up every morning excited to attend classes organised by the education team at Save the Children Lebanon in the Bekaa Valley, in the east of Lebanon.

The programmes prepare children between the age of 3 and 6 for school and includes activities such as writing, reading and painting.

GSK and GSK employees supported Save the Children’s response to the European Refugee Crisis since 2015. We have provided services such as Mother and Baby Corners in the Balkans, essential health and child protection interventions in Syria and surrounding countries such as Lebanon, as well as Child Friendly Spaces giving children a safe place to play and to receive the support they need.

* Real name has been replaced to preserve the child’s privacy

Suriya, a child receiving his yellow fever vaccine in Democratic Republic of Congo.
Photo: Tommy Trenchard/Save the Children

One-year-old Suriya waits to receive his yellow fever vaccine after a deadly outbreak of the disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Suriya is from the country’s capital, Kinshasa, where 7 million of the city’s 10 million inhabitants are thought not to be vaccinated. Immunisation is one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions. It can help give every child a chance of survival.

Between 1990 and 2015 improvements in immunisation coverage contributed to an over 50% drop in child deaths globally. However, 18.7 million children worldwide still miss out. So, as well as supporting emergency vaccination programmes like this one in DRC, the GSK and Save the Children partnership is using its joint voice to call for vaccines for every last child.

Oliver James, a patient in West Yorkshire
Photo: Elizabeth Dalziel/Save the Children

15 month old Oliver-James, his mum Vicky and dad Simon are a family on the cusp of poverty in West Yorkshire. 

Living on a low income is tough and they struggle with bills. When the family’s fridge freezer broke down, they couldn't afford to replace it until they got a grant from Save the Children’s Eat Sleep Learn Play programme, supported by GSK employees in the UK. 

Vicky says: "I don't think of us as destitute but we don't have enough money and when things go wrong we rely on friends and family, or help like Save the Children. We would have really not managed without a fridge. I'm so relieved that Oliver-James hasn't missed out because we can't afford to keep food fresh."

Winners of the 2015 Award:

As well as recognising innovations that help reduce child deaths, the third award adopted a special focus on strengthening health systems. Selected from more than 100 entries in 26 countries by a judging panel comprising health experts from across the globe, the winners were:

PATH, Vietnam - $400,000

Awarded for Immreg, a system which brings immunisation records into the digital age in Vietnam. Rather than handwriting records, which can be time-consuming and prone to error, health workers in the Ben Tre province now use a computer or smart phone to monitor vaccine stocks; register pregnant women and newborns; and track what vaccines they have received. They can also remind mothers via text message to get vaccinations for them or their child. This is saving health workers’ valuable time and improving access to vaccination. Immreg has cut the time to generate monthly lists of children due for vaccination from one to two days to just 5-30 minutes. Rates of full immunisation in the first year of life increased from 74.3 to 77.8% in a one-year pilot.

Fundación VIHDA, Ecuador - $226,600

Awarded for their innovative use of the ‘Pratt Pouch’. This foil pouch – similar to a fast-food ketchup sachet – offers a more accurate and efficient way for mothers to give HIV medicines to a newborn. One of the ways to reduce the risk of HIV transmission from mother to child is through the administration of antiretroviral medicines to a newborn immediately after birth and for the first weeks of life.[1] But it can be difficult for parents to measure out the correct dose from a bottle of liquid medicine. Early results indicate that the Pratt Pouch – which is filled with the exact amount of medicine needed per dose – has improved dosing accuracy from 50% to over 90% of mothers delivering highly accurate doses. Mothers surveyed indicated that they found it simple to use, more durable and less wasteful.

2020 MicroClinic Initiative, Kenya - $176,600

Awarded for Operation Karibu, a ‘welcome programme’ of care for new mothers. The first 48 hours of life is the most crucial period for newborn survival[2] so access to healthcare is important at this time. ‘OpK’ has identified three ways to encourage pregnant women to seek medical care before, during and after birth. Women who give birth in the clinic, attended by a skilled professional, are given a set of baby clothes, including onesies made from recycled cotton t-shirts; emergency transport to the clinic is made available; and a birth companion of the woman’s choice is offered training in caring for an infant. Mothers and newborns are monitored via electronic case management for the first 30 days. Over the three-year programme, no maternal or neonatal deaths have been recorded in any of the OpK sites.

SA MRC Maternal and Infant Health Care, South Africa - $176,600

Awarded for ‘Child PIP’, an audit tool for careful review of infant and child deaths in South African hospitals. The primary aim is to enable local healthcare teams to understand the causes of child mortality in their area, in order to improve quality of care. The system allows for all deaths to be identified and for important information to be collected. This includes details on the child’s health and the main cause or causes of death. By identifying previously unseen patterns and ways in which healthcare processes could be changed, the tool has been used to help individual hospitals and the healthcare system as a whole to adapt and improve care for children. Child PIP is now used by healthcare teams in more than half of public hospitals and in all of the country’s nine provinces. Next steps for Child PIP include strengthening the programme and extending it to collect information about deaths in the community.

The following organisations from Africa, Asia and Latin America won a share of the 2014 Award:

University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa - $370,000

The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) received one of the top prizes for its ground-breaking, low-cost system, called ‘FoneAstra’, which enables the safe pasteurisation and storage of donated human breast milk for premature babies. The FoneAstra human milk pasteurisation toolkit, originally developed by the University of KwaZulu-Natal in collaboration with health NGO PATH and the University of Washington, uses a mobile phone app to provide a step-by-step guide through the pasteurisation process and makes it easier to track and trace donor milk for increased quality control and assurance. It can be adapted for use in settings with no electricity. Up to 25% of premature or low birthweight babies cannot get sufficient breast milk from their mothers, often for reasons of illness or low supply, which leaves them more vulnerable to life threatening conditions such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and neonatal sepsis.

ColaLife, Zambia - $370,000

Joint first prize winner, ColaLife Zambia, won its share of the Award for its innovative ‘Kit Yamoyo’ (‘Kit of Life’), which brings affordable diarrhoea treatment to families in remote rural areas using the supply and distribution networks normally used to transport soft drinks. Diarrhoea is one of the world’s biggest killers of children under five. It can be simply treated using oral rehydration salts (ORS) and Zinc, yet less than 1% of children in sub-Saharan Africa receive the treatment.

ColaLife’s low-cost treatment kit contains 200ml sachets of ORS, a container to measure the correct amount of water, 10 zinc tablets and soap. It is promoted through rural health centres by community health workers and delivered by trained local village-based micro-retailers. Retailers travel to the nearest district town to buy the kits the same way they do for other fast moving consumer goods such as Coca-Cola, cooking oil, salt and sugar.

Living Goods, Uganda - $120,000

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, deworming pills, anti-malaria and diarrhoea treatments, fortified foods, and water filters.

University of Nairobi, Kenya - $120,000

This community health initiative was rewarded for its innovative bar-coded Vaccination/Mother-Child Wellness Card that tracks vaccinations and rewards mothers with discounts on farm products. Child immunisation is seen as a critical measure to reduce death rates in children under five which currently stand at 71 per 1,000 live births in Kenya[1].The vaccination card automatically updates when a newborn is registered and each time the child and/or mother receives a vaccine.  It then allows the mother discounts on farm products, such as seeds and fertilizer, from Agrovets shops run by the University’s partner agency.

The following organisations from Africa, Asia and Latin America won a share of the 2013 Award:

Friends of Sick Children, Malawi - $400,000

Friends of Sick Children is a partnership between the Paediatric Department at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi, Rice University's ’s Rice 360°: Institute for Global Health Technologies in the United States, and University of Malawi College of Medicine. Their ‘baby bubble’ – or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure device (bCPAP) - is a low-cost adaptation of a device proven to help newborn babies in respiratory distress, designed specifically for low-resource settings.

BRAC, Bangladesh - $300,000

BRAC’s ‘Manoshi’ programme delivers a comprehensive package of health services for women and children in the urban slums of Dhaka and consists of three key innovations: safe, clean delivery centres in slum areas, access to emergency health care, home visits by health workers who record vital patient information.

MUSO, Mali - $100,000

MUSO, Mali, implements a system designed to support the early identification of women and children in need of healthcare, before their symptoms escalate to a more serious condition. The system includes door-to-door health visits by community health workers, training and education programmes for local leaders and communities

Microclinic Technologies, Kenya - $100,000

Microclinic Technologies’  ‘ZiDi’ is a mobile health management system designed to improve the quality of maternal and child care by providing access to real-time data to improve health-planning decisions. ZiDi is currently being used in over 5,000 health facilities in Kenya.

Kangaroo Foundation (Fundacion Canguro), Colombia - $100,000

Kangaroo Mother Care is a simple technique which promotes early skin-to-skin contact between mothers and their premature and newborn babies. Mothers act as human incubators, keeping their babies warm and regulating their heartbeats.

[1] Source: World Bank -

Trek for Kids, saving one million children lives

In March 2017, 40 GSK employees from 24 countries around the world took part in Trek for Kids, climbing Mount Kenya and raising over £273,000 for Save the Children.

  • £546,000

    donated to Save the Children thanks to Trek for Kids

The trekkers exceeded their joint fundraising target through a variety of activities from cake sales to sponsored runs. The total raised will also be matched by GSK, meaning that Save the Children will receive a total of £546,000 as a direct result of the efforts of the GSK trekkers and their supporters. The money will be used to support programmes throughout GSK and Save the Children’s global partnership.

Trek for Kids sitting in a group

During their time in Kenya, the trekkers visited Bungoma County, in the north west of the country. They learnt more about the programme being delivered by Save the Children, through GSK’s support, and how it is helping to reduce maternal and newborn mortality by increasing access to quality health systems and services.

Trek for Kids adults and baby
Volunteers and a baby

The partnership is already delivering measurable results. By December 2016 the global partnership had directly reached over 2.6 million children through a number of interventions such as researching and developing innovative child-friendly medicines, widening vaccination coverage in the hardest-to-reach communities, increasing investment in the training, reach and scope of health workers and helping children affected by disasters or humanitarian crisis.

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