Innovations for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health

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Innovations for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health

In 2009, Concern Worldwide US received a five-year, $41 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This grant was awarded to improve maternal, newborn and child health in Africa and south Asia.

Maternal health charity

Nearly 10 million children die each year before they reach the age of five. Nearly half a million women die each year during pregnancy or as a result of childbirth. Most of these deaths can be prevented. Simple and low-cost measures exist that have the potential to save millions of lives every year.


The project has begun in Malawi, India, and Sierra Leone. At the moment it is uncertain whether these countries will achieve the 2015 Millennium Development Goals for maternal and child health.

The project aims to develop and implement new ideas that can significantly increase maternal and child health coverage in these countries. This requires working with communities to encourage and invite new ideas.

Selecting the best ideas

Our first objective is to gather thousands of untested ideas from people who usually have little influence in the health sector. Selection focused on untried and innovative ideas that have potential for increasing coverage of essential health services for mothers and children. You can see this process in action in the video below.

The three winning ideas from each country will be developed for use with local communities. In doing this, we will draw on support from technical experts, local institutions and the health sector. Where feasible, these ideas will then be implemented and rigorously evaluated to determine the difference they make and their potential for wider use in the future.

Share an idea, save a life

In Malawi, two ideas were selected from the “Share an Idea, Save a Life” competition. Soyapi Mumba and Clement Mwazambumba put forward two complementary ideas based on harnessing the power of mobile technology to address important quality gaps in health services for women and children. To maximise the impact of these ideas, they will be developed as an integrated project.

In Sierra Leone, the “Everyone Can Save a Life” competition garnered three winning ideas. Victor Makieu proposed individual and group counseling to address the emotional wellbeing and performance of health workers. Ishmael Rakeem Hemoh proposed to implement “quality circles” to foster internal support systems and boost morale amongst health workers. Musa Kamara proposed to introduce community scoring of the performance of health workers and facilities, providing rewards accordingly.

In India, three ideas have reached the finals stage of the “Give Light to Their Lives with Your Idea” competition. Winners will be selected on 7 July, 2010 in Bhubaneswar.

Exciting opportunity

Dr Balwant Singh, Director of Innovations at Concern, speaking about the initiative, said:

Nothing is more important than saving the lives of children and mothers. This is an exciting opportunity for Concern to use a new approach to discover and test new ideas to save lives and improve health outcomes. This responsibility requires an extraordinary team, listening to new voices, dynamic partnerships, prudent risk taking, and a relentless commitment to learning and the application of learning.


Concern is working closely with a range of partners – UNICEF, host governments, private sector organisations and a range of other stakeholders. Along with these partners, we are determined to develop and deliver this project.

For further information please see our dedicated project website at