The Diplomat reports that India has completed its first polio-free year in the country’s history. As the World Health Organization (WHO) notes, this marks significant progress for a country that in 1994 experienced 4,791 cases a year. The polio-free year means that India will no longer be considered a “polio-endemic” country, leaving its South Asian neighbors, Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as Nigeria, as the remaining nations with this label.
As noted by Harvard professor, Jay Winsten, a persistent problem in the remaining country is one of attitudes and behaviors, with resistance from local and national political figures to polio vaccinations. Prof Winsten also regards as critical the funding shortfall of $945 million in 2012-13. This demonstrates that successful campaigns take into the relationship between the desired behavior change and the macro influences, including policy, political and social factors.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced that it will invest US $35 million in grants to expand the pipeline of groundbreaking ideas that can help women and children live more prosperous and healthy lives. The funding, announced at the annual Grand Challenges Meeting in Delhi, India, will support two new Grand Challenges in Global Health grant programs:
First is ‘Preventing Preterm Birth’, managed in partnership with the Global Alliance for the Prevention of Prematurity and Stillbirth (GAPPS), an initiative of Seattle Children’s, will invest US $20 million in the discovery and development of interventions to prevent preterm birth and stillbirth by limiting infection and improving nutrition. Discover New Ways to Achieve Healthy Growth will invest US$15 million in research to discover the causes of growth faltering during the first 1,000 days of life and to identify effective and affordable interventions to promote healthy growth. Second is $9 million in funding for a new related initiative, “Biomarkers of Gut Function and Health,” that seeks to develop non-invasive measures of intestinal functioning as a way to assess infant health and development.
Several new grant awards through the broader Grand Challenges family of programs were also announced today at the meeting in Delhi. 110 grants of US $100,000 each will support innovative proposals to improve nutrition and development in young children, as well as address infectious diseases such as polio and HIV. The funding was awarded through Round 7 of Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE). 9 GCE projects that have shown promise in tackling global health challenges such as malaria and tuberculosis will receive additional funding of up to US $1 million each to enable researchers to continue to advance their ideas toward impact.
Posted in Ideas, Opportunities
Tagged child, Gates, government, health, HIV/AIDS, India, maternal, nutrition, polio, women