Third round of maternal and newborn health innovations are awarded in Kenya

The County Innovation Challenge Fund (CICF) marked its entry into a third round of innovations on 15 September 2017, with an award ceremony in Nairobi for five new organizations that are joining the fund’s portfolio.

Speaking at the event, Zoe Hensby from DFID Kenya said that ‘DFID Kenya remains committed to improving maternal and newborn health in Kenya. The CICF is an important component of DFID’s larger MNH Programme. We wish you all the best of luck.’

The five new projects will be implemented in four of the CICF’s priority counties: Turkana, Garissa, Nairobi and Kakamega. Each project is set to answer an important question and catalyse change, ultimately influencing policy and practice to improve maternal and newborn health outcomes.  The five grantees have been selected after undergoing a rigorous selection process involving 180 applicants who responded to the third CICF call for innovative solutions to increase provision and utilisation of quality maternal and newborn health services.

During this award ceremony, the project representatives were presented with award letters, and they in turn gave brief presentations on their projects, and the solutions they seek to provide. The grantees solutions are truly innovative and address a variety of crucial issues that affect mothers, women and newborns in the target counties as below:

  • Centre for Public Health and Development will be improving access to surgical services in hard to reach communities in Turkana, through the use of universal anaesthetic machines at solar powered health facilities, digitization of the WHO surgical safety checklist, and training of nurse anaesthetists to address health workforce gaps.
  • African Population and Health and Research Centre will test a package of interventions in Garissa county designed to address sociocultural barriers. The project is situated within the strong traditional institutions of Somali culture, and will leverage the clan system and customary law to increase demand for maternity services, and the provision of culturally sensitive and acceptable delivery services.
  • Lexlink Consulting will work in partnership with the Nairobi county government to expand and digitize the existing paper-based tools used by managers for supportive supervision at the health facility level. This approach will improve the quality and use of this important data for decision making, and enhance the accountability of management processes.
  • Management Sciences for Health will work in partnership with young women in Kakamega county to co-design a new, group approach to the delivery of antenatal care. A group approach to this routine service is expected to address gaps in the uptake and completion of comprehensive antenatal care.
  • Afya Research Africa will create a digital connection between the existing array of health providers in Turkana. This system will enable the unique identification of patients who move from one facility to the next in this pastoralist setting, improving quality of care and reducing loss to follow-up.

The five grantees now join the CICF’s larger portfolio, which invests in innovation solutions to address priority bottlenecks in maternal and newborn health.

Congratulating the five new members of the CICF, the Fund’s Team Leader Nicole Sijenyi Fulton said: ‘The CICF is not business as usual. In addition to implementing outputs to achieve outcomes, CICF grantees must have a priority question they seek to answer, and stay laser focused in their mission to answer that question. The result is evidence that can be used to take innovations to scale.’

The County Innovation Challenge Fund is supported by UKAid from the UK government. The fund invests in innovative interventions, products, processes, services, technologies and ideas that will reduce maternal and newborn mortality in Kenya, and is managed by Options and KPMG.