By Ninha Silva (MSc in Public Health Candidate)
The countdown to 100&Change final has started. In exactly seven days, 11th of December 2017, the four finalists of the MacArthur Foundation’s competition will be presenting their final pitch to the judging panel. The winner of the $100 million grant will be announced, at a date to be confirmed, after a live presentation to an audience of funders, non-profit leaders, experts and MacArthur’s Board of Directors, in Chicago.
When the MacArthur Foundation announced the 100&Change competition in March 2016, they called for proposals promising to deliver meaningful and durable change in any part of the world. Nearly 2000 proposals were submitted in response to this call and only eight made it through the semi-finals in February 2017. The four finalists were announced on the 19h of September, following months of active work and engagement with their target communities and close work with the MacArthur Foundation.
Professor Joy Lawn, Director of the Maternal, Adolescent, Reproductive & Child Health (MARCH) Center, at LSHTM, is one of the four finalists. 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 deaths in African hospitals by 50%. 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 each year. 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, due to conditions such as intermittent electricity and harsh environmental conditions, their use is not sustainable in African hospitals and, additionally, the existing market does not ensure a reliable distribution of medical devices.
According to the team, this problem could be averted in three steps:
- refined NEST package (NESTech) – including technologies but also health systems inputs required for use and maintenance- for both clinicians and biomedical engineers (NESTeach);
- establishing evidence of the effect of the package with a large-scale trial, resulting in more demand for technologies;
- developing a new non-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.
Competing against NEST360° for the chance of winning $100 million grant are:
Catholic Relief Services: targeting the 8 million children around the world that live in orphanages. They propose to change the way society cares for children that are sent to orphanages and to build infrastructure to reunite them with their families and transforming orphanages into family service providers.
HarvestPlus: the team aims to eliminate hidden hunger by developing Biofortification, a process of enriching foods through conventional plant breeding. The team currently reaches 26 million around the world with this technique and they expect to reach 1 billion people globally by 2030.
Sesame Worksop and the International Rescue Committee: they propose to target the refugee crisis using the power of mass media, by delivering a care program delivered through home visits and mobile messages and through creation of an early learning program delivered in multi-platforms.
As the grand finale quickly approaches, the four teams are left with one last chance – the presentation in Chicago – to convince the Board of Directors that one of them has the best long-term solution and therefore, should win the $100 million award to implement the up to six years projects.
You can check video highlights and live updates via MARCH Centre twitter account – @MARCH_LSHTM – and follow the conversation using #100andchange #NEST360.
Project proposal page: http://bit.ly/2jTQtOK
YouTube video about NEST360: http://bit.ly/2AfHmMp