Centre for Maternal, Adolescent, Reproductive, and Child Health

Professor Joy Lawn’s research collaboration in the competition finals for $100 million grant

By Ninha Silva, MARCH Centre Blog Editor (MSc Public Health Candidate)

Meaningful and durable change. This is what MacArthur’s Foundation is asking in return for a single $100 million dollars grant awarded to the organisation that can prove to have the best solution for a critical world problem.

The competition, called 100&Change, started early this year with 1,904 submitted proposals and is now approaching its final moments with only four finalists.

Amongst the finalists is Professor Joy Lawn, Director of the Maternal, Adolescent, Reproductive & Child Health (MARCH) Center, at LSHTM. Professor Lawn entered the 100&Change competition with NEST360°, a proposal developed in collaboration with Rice University, University of Malawi College of Medicine; University of Malawi Polytechnic; Northwestern Kellogg School Management and 3Rd Stone Design.

The NEST360° team aims to reduce newborn death in Africa by 75%, within the next 10 years. According to UN’s data, approximately 7,000 newborns die every day around the world and over 1 million African babies are estimated to die in the first four weeks of life. The team led by Rice University, believes that these numbers can be reduced with Newborn Essential Solutions and Technologies (NEST).

NEST is a package comprising 17 affordable technologies that have the potential to tackle all the main causes of newborn deaths, and deliver quality and comprehensive care to newborns.

These technologies have been available in High Income Countries for the past 50 years. However, currently, they are not sustainable in African hospitals and the existing market does not ensure a reliable distribution of medical devices.

According to the team, this problem could be averted in three steps:

  1. refined NEST package(NESTech) including technologies but also health systems inputs required for use and maintenance, for both clinicians and biomedical engineers (NESTeach);
  2. establishing evidence of the effect of the package, with a large-scale trial, resulting in more demand for technologies;
  3. developing a new not for profit distribution system for affordable delivery (NEST.org).

The programme is currently in the scale up phase throughout Malawi, which will be followed by a cost-effectiveness evaluation in Tanzania. Then, the team expects to focus on refining the market and service strategies in Nigeria and establishing a non-profit distributor in Tanzania and Nigeria.

Working towards the 100&Change’s requirement for sustainable solutions, the team also proposes to invest in and support the education of the next generation of biomedical innovators and clinicians able to lead systems change to improve newborn health in Africa.

The challenge now lies in proving to MacArthur’s Board of Directors that NEST360° has the best long-term solution and can implement it with the support of this 6 years funding.

Also running for this 100$ million grant and the opportunity to respond to a societal challenge, are Catholic Relief Services, HarvestPlus and Sesame Worksop and the International Rescue Committee.

The four finalists were announced on the 19th of September and have been offered an opportunity to pitch their project to a worldwide public ahead of the grand finale. For NEST360° the chance to discuss proposal is this Friday, 27th of October. The focus will be on how to have a sustainable approach to manufacturing and distribution. The event will be live streaming via MacArthur Foundation’s website.

The winner of the competition will be announced after the 11th of December 2017, after a live presentation to an audience of funders, non-profit leaders, experts and MacArthur’s Board of Directors, in Chicago.


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