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15 September 2011

Innovating for Every Woman, Every Child

Innovating for Every Woman, Every Child is the first thematic report in a series from the Global Campaign for the Health Millennium Development Goals that is intended to provide examples of practical and inspirational actions and initiatives that try to address existing gaps in women’s and children’s health; and to “empower and inspire tomorrow’s innovators.” The report has been produced in co-operation with the Innovation Working Group, created by the United Nations Secretary-General in April 2010 to support the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health launched in September 2010.

The report demonstrates that there is a new narrative in the social and economic development of countries – one that does no longer rely solely on the supply of wealthy donor assistance, but more on “generating demand amongst people in developing countries.” It is only by generating demand that goods and services to raise people’s living standards can be developed cost-effectively.

In many low- and middle-income countries, the heath care sector continues to fall short when it comes to safeguarding women and children’s health. For example, the report notes that “more than 350 000 women die each year in the developing world from complications of childbirth and pregnancy. As many as 2.6 million babies are stillborn annually, and 3 million of the more than 8 million children under five who die each year succumb in the first month of life.” Although providers of health services try to bring the right people with the right skills and the right resources together in the right place to deliver essential interventions, the report finds that these providers are often obstructed by social and economic barriers excluding women and children from receiving life-saving support. The Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health aims to close the gaps behind these high mortality rates as it sets out the key areas where action is urgently required to enhance financing, strengthen policy and improve service delivery.

The report notes that the most effective initiatives to improve women’s and children’s health are those that are adjusted to local and country specific conditions and follow a clearly defined business models that are based on the identification of an intervention or product’s added value, beneficiaries/buyers, distribution channels; resource needs; organizational format and long-term viability. Moreover, it is about innovation.

“This report is full of exciting examples of the transformative nature of mobile communication for global health. But beyond these examples lie powerful lessons for the difference between assistance and development, the relationship between sustainability and scale, and the nature of the partnership between the provider of services and programmes and their customers, even among the planet’s poorest people,” writes Richard Klausner, Managing Partner of The Column Group in one of the forewords of the report.

The report portrays (for-profit, non-profit or hybrid) “business models that innovators have used with success, as well as case studies of some of the most powerful and ingenious innovations in women’s and children’s health,” including business models serving households, government health systems, and private companies.

To access the full report, click here.

For more information, see also the Every Woman, Every Child website.

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