The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded a Grand Challenges Explorations award of USD $100,000 to IC-IMPACTS Principal Investigator Dr. Mira Johri (Canada) and collaborator Dr. Aaditeshwar Seth (India) to develop a smartphone application and digital processing techniques to optimize immunization data management and use for the purpose of delivering better health care to newborns and children in rural India.
Through their 18-month pilot project—Optical Scanning of the Mother and Child Protection Card—Project Lead Dr. Seth and Project Co-Lead (Scientific) Dr. Johri ultimately aim to enhance the collection and analysis of immunization data, the use of the technology among health workers in the field, and the performance of the messaging service that delivers vaccination reminders to families.
For more information about this Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenge, please see Innovations in Immunization Data Management, Use, and Improved Process Efficiency (Round 21)
The two researchers also won a Grand Challenges award from the Government of India worth USD $200,000. The project—Image Recognition Based Data Entry Processes to Ensure Immunization Completeness and Auditing of Reported Data—involves enhancing the processing and management of immunization data related to the delivery of health care to children in India.
For more information about this Grand Challenge India Funding Opportunity, please see Grand Challenges India: Immunization Data: Innovating for Action (IDIA).
Since 2015, IC-IMPACTS has supported the development and pilot evaluation of the Tika Vaani (Vaccine Voice Project) intervention platform. Early work led to the identification of gaps in health service performance at the “last mile” and provided the inspiration for this novel strategy to aid health workers in filling them. With IC-IMPACTS support, the team also evaluated innovative communications strategies that will be integrated into the new application.
Both of these Grand Challenges grants build on the IC-IMPACTS-funded Tika Vaani project. They are designed to enable Dr. Johri and Dr. Seth to develop and test an application for optical scanning of the Mother and Child Protection (MCP) card immunization record for use by frontline workers equipped with a mobile smartphone. Real-time point-of-service data entry will leapfrog the existing Mother and Child Tracking System (MCTS)/Reproductive & Child Health (RCH) approach based on data entry at the Primary Health Centre (PHC) to improve data accuracy, timeliness, and completeness.
Dr. Mira Johri is Professor in the Department of Health Management, Evaluation and Policy in the School of Public Health at the University of Montreal. She is also Principal Scientist with the Centre de recherche du Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CRCHUM).
Dr. Aaditeshwar Seth is Associate Professor in Computer Science and Engineering at IIT Delhi. He co-founded Gram Vaani in 2009 to help development in rural India through community media. In 2015, he formed OnionDev Technologies Pvt. Ltd., a partnership with social enterprise Life Impacting Services (part of OnMobile Global Ltd.).
Though definitions vary, Grand Challenges are generally considered initiatives that fund innovators to develop solutions to problems facing nations around the world, particularly in developing countries.