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A Passage to India

As I write this latest post, I am preparing to travel to Orissa, India. While I always look forward to seeing the tremendous work that Concern programmes are doing on the ground, this is a particularly interesting trip. 

Mothers and children

Back in 2008, Concern received a grant of $41 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This grant is to help find new and innovative ways to help mothers and children, particularly new-born children, in some of the world’s poorest countries. Whilst there are already many proven solutions to the health problems faced by mothers and children, there are also many barriers that stop these solutions from reaching the poorest people.

Improve health

Called the “Innovations” programme, the aim is to find new ways to overcome these barriers and in so doing, to help reduce unnecessary deaths and improve the health of some of the most vulnerable mothers and children. The Concern Innovations programme is running in three countries; Sierra Leone, Malawi and Orissa State, India. There are plans for three more countries in the future.

Anyone can enter

What is really exciting about this programme though, is the way in which these solutions are found. Essentially, it is an open competition to find ideas and anyone can enter. So rather than only asking those who have always had a say in how things are done, Innovations makes a concerted effort to go directly to those on the receiving end of health services. 

Good ideas

Competitions are run and people are asked how they would improve the services they receive. Good ideas are taken forward and people are helped to develop them further. It’s like a cross between Dragon’s Den and The X-Factor. Ultimately, the programme will also test those solutions that are considered to have the most potential to work.

Competition final

Next week is the final of the Orissa competition, which is why I’m delighted to be travelling there. Nearly 4,000 entries were received, from a wide variety of people, including people who know most about the effects of poor healthcare on their communities. I’m intrigued to see the range of ideas on show.

It is truly inspiring to listen to how people want to change their world, and to see the potential of people living in the most challenging of circumstances.

Take a look

Below is a video of the final in Malawi. It provides great insight into the whole process.