Four innovations to tackle under-five deaths win US$1 million Healthcare Innovation Award from GSK and Save the Children

  • Organisations in Pakistan, Colombia, India and Nigeria recognised for innovations helping the hardest-to-reach children
  • Healthcare Innovation Award (HIA) is a major initiative within five-year partnership to help save one million children’s lives

Four health organisations from developing countries have today been recognised by GSK and Save the Children for innovations that reduce deaths in children under five.

With more than five million children dying each year before their fifth birthdays, and many more lacking access to basic healthcare, the fourth annual Healthcare Innovation Award has a special focus on innovations providing healthcare for the hardest-to-reach mothers and children. 

Selected from 171 submissions from 30 countries by a judging panel comprising health experts from across the globe, the winners are:

  • Association for Humanitarian Development (AHD) in Pakistan for their inexpensive and versatile water filter unit, which won the largest share of the Award
  • Sinergias in Colombia, the Hardest-to-Reach award winner for a cross-cultural healthcare delivery model for indigenous populations in the Amazon region
  • ARMMAN in India for their free mobile voice call service providing preventative care information to mothers
  • Alma Sana in Nigeria for their simple, low-cost bracelet to stimulate parents’ uptake and demand for children’s immunisations in Nigeria.

The award is a major initiative of GSK and Save the Children’s five-year partnership, combining the resources, voice and expertise of the two organisations to help save one million children’s lives. The purpose of the award is to identify innovations that are making a tangible difference to children’s health, and enable organisations to share and replicate their approach. Since 2013, 17 inventive approaches have been recognised.

Lauren Braun, Founder and President of Alma Sana, said “After proven success in Peru and Ecuador, we are thrilled to win a share of the 2017 Healthcare Innovation Award to commence a roll-out of our simple low-cost bracelets in Nigeria. We chose to expand to Nigeria because of its poor vaccination rates and large population which make it an ideal place to scale up if successful. The bracelets empower parents by helping them understand and remember their child’s vaccination schedule. By serving as a visual reminder, the bracelets encourage parents to return on time for their child’s vaccination appointments, helping to save more children’s lives”.

Andy Wright, VP Global Health Programmes, GSK said: “Millions of children are being left behind because they live in remote areas. This year’s Healthcare Innovation Award recognises interventions that are supporting mothers and children in some of the world’s most marginalised communities. The award will enable the 2017 winners to expand their operations in these neglected areas and help save more children’s lives.”

Ali Forder, Director of Programme Quality & Impact, Save the Children UK added: “The Healthcare Innovation Award was specifically designed with the understanding that those closest to a complex problem are best placed to design solutions to solve them. These innovations are already delivering clean drinking water, pre and post-natal care and vaccination reminders for the world’s most vulnerable children. In Colombia, Sinergias is supporting families who may only be accessible by plane or boat, making them the winner of our Hardest-to-Reach award.  

Further details on the 2017 winners and their innovations below:

Association for Humanitarian Development (AHD) Pakistan - $320,000 awarded for a unique, simple, inexpensive, and versatile water filter unit.  Sourced and constructed locally from mud pots, the “Nadi” filter costs just US$10-15   per-unit, and once untreated water filters through, Nadi removes 98%-100% of biological contamination, providing communities access to clean and reliable drinking water.  The need in rural Pakistan is especially great, as many still drink contaminated water, with children under-five and mothers particularly vulnerable to water-related illness. Since launching in 2007, the Nadi Filter has provided clean and safe drinking water to 400,000 households.

Sinergias, Colombia – $250,000 awarded for their comprehensive, cross-cultural healthcare delivery model, tailored to the needs of indigenous populations in Colombia’s Amazon region.  The winning programme was originally developed for mothers and children, and then adjusted to add a neglected tropical infectious disease programme in order to accommodate local realities. With both programmes offered simultaneously to all members of the 18 local indigenous communities, an integrated care model was born that focused primarily on pregnant women and children under-five, and that worked in partnership with local health authorities and indigenous organisations.

ARMMAN, India - $115,000 for “mMitra” a free mobile voice call service in India that provides preventative care information to reduce maternal and child mortality.  The programme targets underserved pregnant women and mothers of children under five, who live in urban slums or in rural India and do not have access to sufficient health care. mMitra calls are received by the enrolled women in their chosen local language/dialect, are specifically tailored to their child’s age, and are received weekly or bi-weekly through the mother’s pregnancy and their child’s infancy.

Alma Sana, Nigeria - $100,000 for stimulating parents’ uptake and demand for their children’s immunisations, one of the world’s most powerful tools for reducing under-five mortality and morbidity, through the practice of the child wearing a simple, bracelet.  The bracelets empower mothers by presenting them with a constant and visual reminder of their baby’s vaccination schedules through symbols embedded in the bracelet, turning their babies’ ‘jewellery’ into a vaccine calendar and check-list. The bracelets were designed with input from mothers and nurses, are waterproof, durable, baby-safe, and intended for parents living on US$1.25 or less a day.  As the bracelet’s immunisation reminders are represented through symbols and numbers and not words, this different kind of ‘wearable technology’ is suitable for literate and non-literate parents alike.

A primary focus of the Healthcare Innovation Award is enabling innovative organisations to take their programme to scale and ensure it is sustainable for the long-term. Therefore a portion of the Award fund is set aside for providing tailored, on-the-ground consultative support to the winning organisations:

  • AHD received a consulting Award of $80,000
  • Sinergias received a consulting Award of $50,000
  • ARMANN received a consulting Award of $60,000

Notes to the editor:

For more information visit:

Association for Humanitarian Development

Sinergias Alianzas Estratégicas para la Salud y el Desarrollo Social


Alma Sana

About the GSK and Save the Children partnership

In May 2013, GSK and Save the Children formed a ground breaking partnership to help save the lives of one million children. Since then, the partnership has worked closely on initiatives that include developing child-friendly medicines, increasing access to medicines and vaccines and training health workers. Some key milestones include:

  • Working together to reformulate the active ingredient of a popular mouthwash into a lifesaving antiseptic gel for preventing umbilical cord infection in newborns. The antiseptic gel, chlorhexidine, is intended exclusively for use in developing countries. If it is approved for use, GSK will offer it at a not-for-profit price and will share its manufacturing knowledge with others to enable it to be made locally.
  • Two flagship programmes to help improve access to maternal and child healthcare are working in Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo to train health workers, provide community education, and strengthen referral systems.

Employee Choice Award

$25,000 of the $1 million award fund has been set aside for the Employee Choice Award – to be selected by GSK and Save the Children employees.

Previous winners

A list of previous Healthcare Innovation Award winners is available here:

The judging panel

The judging panel for the fourth GSK and Save the Children Healthcare Innovation Award is made up of experts from the fields of public health, science and academia:

  • Dr Mushtaque Chowdhury – Vice Chair of BRAC.  Previously served as BRAC’s Executive Director.  Founding Director of the Research and Evaluation Division and founding Dean of the James P. Grant School of Public Health.
  • Professor Parveen June Kumar CBE –Professor of Medicine and Education, hon. Consultant gastroenterologist, Barts and the London School of Medicine, University of London.  Roles in the past include: President of the British Medical Association, President Royal Society of Medicine, Vice President Royal College of Physicians, Chairman Medicines Commission UK. First recipient of the Asian Woman of the Year (Professional) award 1999.  Awarded CBE for services to medicine 2001.
  • Professor Alejandro Madrigal – Professor of Haematology, Royal Free Hospital & UCL Cancer Institute; Scientific Director, Anthony Nolan Research Institute and UCL Pro-Vice-Provost for Latin-America.
  • Anne McCormick – Director of Global Public Policy at Ernst & Young and currently serving as a Trustee of the Royal African Society.  Previously served on the Africa and Continental Europe Executive Committees for Diageo, where she oversaw the development of its water and sanitation programmes and led its innovative work on agricultural value chains in Africa, in partnership with the World Economic Forum.
  • Lord Naren Patel – Member of the House of Lords and Council Member of the Medical Research Council.  Former Professor of Obstetrics & Consultant Obstetrician, Ninewells Hospital, University of Dundee and current University of Dundee Chancellor.  Served as Chairman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges of Scotland 1994–95, and of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges of the UK 1996–98.  Originally from Tanzania.
  • Aparajita Ramakrishnan – Deputy Director, Donor Government Relations, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Previously led the Foundation’s Uttar Pradesh portfolio across health (maternal, child, neonatal), nutrition, family planning, agriculture and financial inclusion services.  Previous roles include consulting for McKinsey & Co., and as part of The Walt Disney Company's Corporate Strategic Planning Group.
  • Sir Michael Rawlins – Chairman of the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency since December 2014.  Chairman of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) from its inception in 1999 until 2012, before becoming President of the Royal Society of Medicine until May 2014.

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