Innovations debate: what would you invest in to help children survive and thrive?

Imagine you’re the health minister of a large country in sub-Saharan Africa. You have a child under 5 mortality rate of 88/1000. You also have data that rates of malnutrition (stunting, wasting) are high and that many children are doing poorly at school compared to neighbouring countries.

A charitable foundation wants to invest $100 million over 5 years to improve child health in your country. You can chose how best to spend that money.

Reflecting on the topics covered this week, write a couple of sentences on each of the below questions and post for discussion with fellow students:

Who would you target?

  • Any age groups in particular?

  • Boys? Girls? Both?

  • Any specific subgroups?

Which condition(s) would you focus on?

  • A single health problem or a larger number of related problems?

  • Why does this matter to your population?

What intervention(s) would you spend this money on?

  • Would you focus on innovative tools and technologies or strengthening the implementation of current tools?

  • How solid is the evidence-base for your chosen interventions?

  • What makes you believe that the project will be scalable and sustainable after the initial 5 year funding is spent?

How would you know whether or not your programme has been a success?

  • Which outcomes would you measure and why?

  • How would you measure them? Which methods and approaches would you use?

To help with your discussions, consider the pros and cons of:

  • A highly targeted approach treating those already with a particular condition vs a broader approach focusing on those who are at-risk but not currently affected

  • ‘Vertical programmes’ – very focused on one particular problem and often using dedicated programme staff and infrastructure vs ‘Horizontal programmes’ – using and building on the existing health system, often with a secondary aim of better supporting that health system

  • Tech-heavy interventions (e.g. photo-diagnosis of malnutrition using a smartphone) vs low-tech approaches (e.g. use of paper strips, to identify malnutrition)

Reading and respond to others’ comments while forming or after posting your own response. How do their choices and reasoning differ to yours?

Remember that you can ‘like’ other learners’ comments, and/or reply to them to initiate a conversation. If you want to see whether anyone has replied to a comment you’ve made, just open the ‘Replies’ tab at the top of the page.

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This article is from the free online course:

Improving the Health of Women, Children and Adolescents: from Evidence to Action

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine