Small Innovations, Big Impacts _Key to Strengthening Health Systems

With  the growing failure to deliver safe  and affordable treatment and daunting increase in number of deaths of  men, women and children. Innovations in health products, practices, and technologies have the potential to revolutionize global health.

I came across this article through Karen Grepin’s Blog and thought how amazing this tradition was , a 75 yr old tradition of gifting new mothers a maternity kit as they leave the hospital and how mothers choose them over the cash. My eyes lit up when I saw the contents of the box and wait –it  costs less than $180. Bravo ! I  couldn’t help but relate this to the low infant mortality rate in Finland and thought about how many mothers in low income settings would find it appealing with strategies/innovations like this to seek care and  deliver in health care facilities.

Fig 1: Maternity Box,Finland and its contents  & Image Courtesy-BBC

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Joy Teni is a newly appointed midwife in a primary health care center in South Sudan. After taking charge in the only PHC in this northern region , she realized that women only opted to use the natural family planning –Lactational Amenorrhea Method ( LAM ) and believed that modern methods would prevent them for giving birth in future. In an attempt to change this situation , Joy created a visual display of family planning methods which she used  during antenatal care visits, as well as with post-natal mothers and husbands. Briefly after doing this she noticed a change in pattern of using the modern family planning methods. And how much did this cost ?Zero. Marketing an old idea into a new one is also innovation and What a simple and effective way to address the problem!

Fig 2: Modern Family Planning Methods, Display-South Sudan & Image Courtesy:MSH

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Do I think we can address serious issues within health systems by simple innovations? Yes.

What’s stopping countries with limited funding to take advantage of innovations like this?If critics consider that these innovations are contributing to the problem of healthcare funding, it only seems reasonable to argue and show how successfully they can contribute to a solution.

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