Innovations in Healthcare Responds

Innovations in Healthcare is committed to supporting innovators and our broader community to address the COVID-19 global pandemic. We will continue to update this site to highlight the efforts our network innovators are taking to prepare and respond to the pandemic, and the work that we are supporting directly to curate and scale promising innovations.



Krishna Udayakumar, MD, Executive Director of Innovations in Healthcare, is uniquely positioned to speak about the connections that are our weaknesses and our strengths as a global community facing a pandemic. As mentor to 100 healthcare innovators across the world, Udayakumar considers healthcare innovation as the solution to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19 in five key areas: data and population surveillance, testing, communications, therapeutics and vaccine development, and the supply chain. Recently, Udayakumar was joined by five IiH innovators for a webinar—What’s the Global Response to COVID-19, and How Can I Help?

Panelists were:

  • Jonathan Jackson, CEO, Dimagi, Inc., a digital health innovator headquartered in the United States with offices in New Delhi, India and Cape Town, South Africa. The company’s flagship product, CommCare, is an award-winning, open-source mobile data collection and service delivery platform. Go to:
  • Kim Brearley, CFO, THINKMD, an IiH innovator in the digital space, has built a digital COVID-19 screening, education and disease monitoring tool to address key challenges of the pandemic:
  • Brad Cunningham, COO, SystemOne, with offices in Northampton, MA and Johannesburg, South Africa, chose to address challenges to monitoring and reporting numbers of cases and regional trends. The organization’s digital platform—tested by previous outbreaks of TB, HIV, and Ebola—now tracks COVID-19 cases to inform preparedness, response, and tracking of outcomes. Ministries of health can now use the platform to monitor spread of the disease in their countries. Go to:
  • Sweety Pathak, Associate Program Director, SNEHA, oversees the Society for Nutrition Education and Health Action’s programs to improve healthcare for vulnerable urban women, adolescents, and children in India. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, SNEHA is using phone and website resources to educate these vulnerable populations about how to prevent spread of the virus. SNEHA has also developed games and activities for children to keep them engaged at home instead of going out to play with friends. This includes games on WhatsApp, exercise challenges, English worksheets/courses, and quizzes. Go to:
  • Michel Musilikare, Country Director, Health Builders, is headquartered in Kigali, Rwanda. The organization is working closely with the Rwandan Ministry of Health to decrease the spread of this disease by providing personal protective equipment and other vital resources to more than 50 health centers across the country. Go to:

The panelists, who work in low- and middle-income countries around the globe, shared their personal experiences with coronavirus and its impact on their communities, how they are applying to COVID-19 lessons learned from dealing with diseases such as Ebola, and reasons to be optimistic about the future.

They addressed questions such as:

  • What are some successful strategies you’ve seen deployed around the world? How can they be scaled, or what can we learn from them?
  • What things aren’t working that you’ve seen – what do we need to change?
  • I’m not an epidemiologist or a healthcare worker – what can I do to help? How can I support those on the front lines, and those working in innovating new strategies to combat the virus? 
  • Do we have reason to be optimistic about the future about the global response? What’s giving you hope, or what isn’t?

The panel was hosted by Max Cawley, Program Manager, Learning Philosophy & Evaluation, as part of a series sponsored by the Museum of Life & Science. The panel can be viewed here:



As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept across the world, forcing millions into a state of near or total lockdown, upending employment and access to care, Maya has developed a comprehensive plan to help individuals through this difficult and uncertain time, to fight misinformation, and to help doctors in their overall efforts.

At the beginning of March, Maya saw a surge in queries related to COVID-19. From February to March, there was a 2700% increase in the number of requests for support and information. In addition to COVID-19 queries, contacts are also up on subjects such as mental health (27%+) and interpersonal communication (163%+).

In order to meet the increased demand, Maya has developed new platforms and strengthened existing ones. In mid-March, the organization established its own hotline for individuals comfortable speaking with an on-demand expert about COVID-19. As of April 25, the hotline has received more than 2,000 calls, 80% of those calls were received just in the month of April. In addition to the hotline, Maya has added an FAQ to its website homepage in both Bangla and English and importantly a symptom tracker.

Maya also reaches a broad audience through its chatbots in Bangla, Arabic and English languages on its Facebook pages. As the organization’s audience stretches beyond Bangladesh and serves users in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, it is essential that users have access to the most up-to-date COVID-19 content. Through the bot, concerned individuals can ask questions and receive immediate and accurate responses on topics such as the basics of COVID-19: how it spreads, symptoms, prevention, treatment, medicine, and statistics. Approximately 60% of queries received ask for a definition of coronavirus. In March, the bots interacted with users more than 45,000 times. To date in April, the number of users has exceeded 40,000.

For information about Maya, please visit the organization’s website, download the app and follow on social media.


Rwanda had its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on March 14. Since then, the number of cases has been increasing steadily as more testing is done. The potential for rapid escalation is high, with devastating consequences. IiH innovator Health Builders is working closely with the Rwandan Ministry of Health to decrease the spread of this disease by providing personal protective equipment and other vital resources to more than 50 health centers across the country.

Health Builders, founded in 2007, has as its vision the belief that all people should have access to high-quality care that enables them to live dignified, healthy and prosperous lives. Health Builders achieves this vision by partnering with the Rwanda Ministry of Health and local governments to apply health systems strengthening interventions: capacity building of healthcare providers, construction of primary healthcare centers and provision of life-saving technologies at the primary healthcare level.

Since 2016, Health Builders has trained 357 health center staff members and provided indirect support to other 1,226 staff members in three districts (Rwamagana, Rulindo and Nyabihu). Although Health Builders does not operate medical facilities, the organization invests in construction of comprehensive primary healthcare centers where access is limited and in improving inadequate healthcare infrastructure to ensure that patients have access to quality care. This mandate has seen the organization build seven state-of-the-art healthcare centers and two maternity wards in five rural Rwandan districts. The Rwandan Ministry of Health manages these healthcare centers, which serve more than 18,480 outpatients monthly. 

In 2017, Health Builders joined the IiH network. Today, the organization continues to train and mentor healthcare center staff and to forge new partnerships to expand its reach. To learn more about Health Builders and how you can increase the organization’s impact, go to:



Noora Health is mobilizing a rapid response to COVID-19 for partners in India and Bangladesh. The organization is uniquely positioned to help flatten the curve with its experience in design and health communication strategies and is leveraging long-standing relationships with government partners to reach a wide audience with evidence-based messages.

Noora Health has an extensive repository of high-quality COVID-19 health education resources and materials. These are available in seven Indian languages plus English, contextualized for at-risk populations in low- and middle-income countries, and cover multiple COVID-related topics. They are free to use, can be disseminated widely, and are available for download here:

The Noora team also recently conducted surveys of more than 850 families and 25+ healthcare workers to understand perceptions, needs, current responses, and information gaps about COVID-19. The findings are available online and provide valuable insight on how to design and adapt COVID-19 support for various populations. These learnings have been instrumental in Noora Health’s COVID-19 content creation; the organization shares them in hopes that others find them useful. 

Additional efforts include:

  • Augmenting hospital trainings to include COVID-19 prevention information
  • Developing and rapidly deploying content (videos, audio, digital and print) in seven Indian languages to facilitate awareness and behavior change relevant to COVID-19. These are open-source materials, free to download and utilize.
  • Launching a novel WhatsApp platform, in collaboration with the government of Bangladesh, to deliver WHO-verified and accurate information through a helpline
  • Upskilling frontline healthcare providers at government hospitals to educate patients about COVID-19 and to train families to provide in-hospital care to their loved ones via the Care Companion Program
  • Accelerating the launch of a training app called Namaste Nurses
  • Tele-training healthcare professionals with a focus on delivering high-quality patient and family education

For information about Noora Health or to access open-source materials, go to: For real-time updates, follow @noorahealth on Twitter or Instagram. 



As the novel coronavirus surges, global response efforts to test for the disease are hindered by challenges to monitoring and reporting the numbers and trends. ln many countries, sample testing is only performed at a few central laboratories, resulting in delayed reports of positive results to healthcare providers. This, in turn, prevents public health officials from gaining a true picture of the scale of nearby outbreaks.

Systems that can automate and provide more rapid and accurate results are urgently needed. IiH innovator, SystemOne, has such a platform, which has been tested by previous outbreaks of TB, HIV, and Ebola. Founded in Massachusetts in 2012, SystemOne has offices in Northampton, MA and Johannesburg, South Africa. The company focuses on producing solutions for disease surveillance and response. 

The company’s software, Aspect®, has been adapted to report on a numerous infectious diseases including Zika, Ebola, HIV, Malaria, Hepatitis C and more on a host of diagnostic devices. The organization has now adapted the platform to test and track COVID-19 cases, providing real-time dashboards to inform preparedness, response and tracking of outcomes. Ministries of health can now use the platform to monitor spread of the disease in their countries.   

For information, go to: or contact Jen Marshall at




IiH innovator OneWorld Health currently operates 11 self-sustaining healthcare facilities and 1 mobile medical unit in East Africa and Central America, staffed by 200 professionals, who provide life-saving care to more than 100,000 patients each year. OneWorld remains committed to its mission of providing quality, affordable care to communities in need. This is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the organization has worked hard over the past 30 days to develop a robust response plan in the communities it serves. 

As facility-based care remains the heart of its service model, OneWorld has adapted safety measures, including social distancing, in order to continue to serve patients. The organization is also providing comprehensive training on COVID-19, implementing new infection control measures, and procuring essential PPE, in addition to launching several new service models to reach patients remotely:

  • Online COVID-19 Screening Tool. As concerns rise in regard to the risks and realities of COVID-19 infection, individuals will want more information to determine the risk of visiting a public or private health center. OneWorld has developed a patient symptom checker that provides comprehensive public health advice and directs patients as to proper self-care, and if necessary, to seek medical attention. This simple algorithm can be shared widely on social media and through WhatsApp groups, emails and texts.
  • TeleHealth Consults. While not every medical consult can be done via telehealth, OneWorld can provide access to a medical professional for many patients in the safety of their homes. After completing an online intake form through social media or WhatsApp, a patient receives a call from a provider to review their symptoms and decide whether they need to go to a medical facility or can care for themselves at home. This saves clinic resources, prevents high numbers of patients grouped together in waiting rooms, and diverts patients with clear COVID-19 symptoms to public facilities that are equipped to treat them.
  • Pharmaceutical Delivery. Patients remaining “safe at home” still have ongoing medical and pharmaceutical needs that OneWorld can address. Patients can call the nearest facility or the central Telehealth line, to consult with staff, refill their prescriptions and order over-the-counter medications, which will then be delivered to their homes by drivers who have received infection control training and supplies.

For information or to contact OneWorld, please go to: or




Parenting in a Pandemic:
How to Talk to Your Kids about COVID-19 

IiH Senior Advisor Don Goldmann, MD, participated in a recent panel discussion--Parenting in a Pandemic: How to Talk to Your Kids about COVID-19—hosted by the Museum of Life and Science. Goldmann is a Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, and Epidemiology at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He is Chief Scientific Officer, Emeritus, and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Healthcare. Goldmann is a former member of CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service and helped develop infection prevention guidelines in the United States for the CDC and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America and in low-resource countries for USAID. He has experience in responding to SARS and H1N1 and teaches a course on Infectious Diseases and Social Injustice at Harvard.

To register for, or to watch, any of the webinars, please go here.

“The webinar’s intent is to help parents navigate a challenging conversation,” according to Max Cawley, the museum’s Program Manager or Learning Philosophy & Evaluation. “We want to help these parents figure out how to answer their kids’ questions and what type of information they could/should/can give to their kids about what’s going on. We all need to know how to communicate in an emotionally healthy, safe, and honest way during such an unusual and scary time.” The series continues on Fridays, 3-4 pm EDT.  


April 7

The Society for Nutrition Education and Health Action works to improve preventive and promotive healthcare for vulnerable urban women, adolescents, and children. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, SNEHA is using phone and website resources to provide information to these vulnerable populations about how to prevent spread of the virus. 

As an NGO, SNEHA works across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (Dharavi, Wadala, Govandi, Mankhurd, Malvani, Kurla, Kandivali), and in Thane, Kalyan-Dombivali, Vasai-Virar, Mira-Bhayandar, Ulhasnagar, Bhiwandi-Nizampur, and Kalwa. With close to 500 staff and consultants working from home and reaching out with the help of 8,000 community-based volunteers, SNEHA disseminates information on COVID-19 and regular health issues. The staff is also available via phone and email to answer questions and to manage high-risk cases, such as women and children in medical crises or facing violence, patients needing palliative care, and high-risk children needing referrals.

As all community events and campaigns have been indefinitely postponed, SNEHA has developed games and activities for children and adolescents to keep them engaged at home instead of going out to play with friends. This includes games on WhatsApp, exercise challenges, English worksheets/courses, and quizzes.

For information about SNEHA, please go to:



May 26

At this crucial time for healthcare professionals, Sevamob is digitizing communications for patient consultation and COVID-19 spread prevention in India and the United States. This AI-enabled healthcare component is designed to help far-flung populations manage the virus, while saving users up to 50 percent on primary care costs. 

Sevamob has also developed the Sevamob Protector, a portable protection kiosk that costs little and can be set up in minutes. The kiosk encapsulates frontline health workers, who then use a pair of attached gloves to examine patients and administer tests. The kiosk reduces PPE usage by upto 90% for a cost savings. 

Sevamob uses AI-based triage and point-of-care screenings for blood, vision, skin, diet, urine, and sputum. Its healthcare providers offer treatment for general health issues, vision, dental, nutrition, cardio-metabolic problems, infectious disease, and ENT. The organization incorporates a telehealth infrastructure for remote care between patients and medical professionals, as well as Asset-lite Popup clinics that provide onsite care and testing. The clinics’ doctors and nurses are supported by Sevamob’s data management and analytics that track patients and disease trends. Sevamob uses this same set-up to provide COVID-19 care in these five ways:

  • Awareness generation about how to prevent the spread of the disease
  • Physician consultation via telehealth 
  • Testing
  • Followups to ensure that patients are quarantined and/or undergoing treatment
  • Patient data management and analytics to track patients and clusters 

Here is a demo video of this product:  

For information about the company, please go to:




April 2 

For 14 years the Safe Water and AIDS Project (SWAP) has supported healthcare professionals in western Kenya. SWAP works with the nation’s COVID-19 rapid response teams to stall the spread and mitigate the impact of the virus, partly by reaching out to remote public health facilities with hand-washing stations, soap, masks, and hygiene promotion. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly spreads in Kenya, it reaches facilities that are ill-equipped and remote. Erratic weather has flooded some areas, and health workers often lack training and protective and prophylactic supplies. A chronic shortage of essential supplies incurs a high risk of hospital-acquired infections. 

Emergencies such as flood and cholera, unrelated to COVID-19, are being addressed in support of the larger anti-viral mission. SWAP’s teams are providing additional supplies and training on hygiene promotion and social behavioral change as preventive measures for COVID-19 in order to prevent hospital-acquired infections. Hand washing and social distancing are becoming more routine, and long-term supplies such as hand-washing stations will serve these communities for years to come.




April 1

IiH innovator GetWellNetwork has responded to COVID-19 developments by constructing a Readiness Center on its website to help medical facilities, patients and families better navigate uncertain times with existing and newly developed digital tools. In addition to tools, the new web pages offer solutions to scaling information sharing, guiding patients and easing the burden for care teams.

Other resources include a webinar (View the webinar) with experts from LifeBridge Health, The George Washington University School of Nursing, and the GetWellNetwork discussing best practices for communicating with patients during this stressful time and how to implement new, complementary COVID-19 management tools. Other resources include Fact sheets about digital solutions that can aid medical facilities by supporting care teams while also engaging patients at home or any care setting.

The GetWell Inpatient™ Learn about Coronavirus online program gives practical advice and provides links to up-to-date patient information from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).


For information, go to:


Wellthy Therapeutics

April 1

IiH innovator Wellthy Therapeutics, a pioneer in the digital therapeutics space, was founded in India with a goal to transform chronic disease management with behavioral interventions. The organization has conducted many studies over the years on the impact of lifestyle and habits on poorly managed chronic health conditions. In response to COVID-19, Wellthy is cautioning individuals that chronic health conditions can also increase the risk of coronavirus. The organization has launched a blog devoted to some of these health conditions and the importance of taking precautions. For information, go to: Or, click on these links to read or to download these guides:

·         COVID-19 Social Distancing Guide for People with Diabetes and Hypertension

·         Cardiac Complications & COVID-19

·         COVID-19: Should People With Hypertension Worry?

·         Diabetes in the Times of COVID-19




April 1

iH innovator Biofourmis, a global leader in digital therapeutics, has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by leveraging its technology in a remote monitoring and disease surveillance program in Hong Kong involving patients with diagnosed or suspected novel coronavirus. The program—administered by The University of Hong Kong—also includes Hong Kong-based Harmony Medical Inc., which is Biofourmis' joint venture partner for the China region.

Diagnosed and potentially COVID-19-infected patients are being monitored with Biofourmis' Biovitals® Sentinel platform, a turn-key solution that the company built in less than two weeks specifically for this initiative by customizing its industry-leading, FDA-cleared artificial intelligence-powered Biovitals® Analytics platform. Biovitals® Sentinel's 24/7 remote monitoring technology and analytics. "The goal of this program is to leverage Biovitals® Sentinel to remotely monitor patients and identify COVID-19-related physiological biomarkers that indicate deterioration in patients," said David Chung Wah Siu, MD, Department of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong. "We hope our combined efforts also will rapidly lead to a better epidemiological understanding of COVID-19 so we can improve the outcomes of our citizens—as well as the global community—as more people become infected."


Patients with COVID-19 deterioration commonly exhibit symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath, all of which can be closely monitored through related physiological parameters via Biofourmis' cutting-edge, clinical-grade biosensor Everion®, which is worn on the arms of quarantined patients at home or in clinical settings. Everion® can be comfortably worn 24 hours a day for several days and has much higher-than-average patient satisfaction and adherence rates. AI-powered Biovitals® Analytics will derive more than 20 physiological signals from the sensor data, including temperature, heart rate, blood pulse wave, heart rate variability, respiration rate, inter-beat-interval and others. These signals are then fed through advanced AI and machine-learning techniques to flag key physiological changes that could indicate disease progression.

The Biovitals® Sentinel solution also includes a smartphone app to collect qualitative data reported by patients as they respond to AI-generated "smart nuggets."  Treating physicians, through the Biovitals® Sentinel clinician-facing web dashboard, will observe and be alerted to any significant physiological changes and adverse events so they can intervene when necessary.

"The sooner these biomarkers associated with COVID-19 deterioration are identified, the sooner healthcare providers can intervene and prevent a serious medical issue," said Kuldeep Singh Rajput, CEO of Biofourmis. "We currently know the common symptoms, but we are still learning how this strain of the coronavirus affects the body. This program will be a key step in achieving this important goal. When a pandemic such as COVID-19 spreads and so much is unknown, every second counts."

Dr. Raymond Tong, CEO of Harmony Medical Inc., Biofourmis' joint venture partner for the China region, added: "With this special partnership with The University of Hong Kong and its leading experts in the field, we are tackling the coronavirus in a rapid and an unprecedented fashion, which could potentially save lives." Biofourmis is in conversations with government agencies and other potential partners about applying its technology to help even more patients and to learn more about COVID-19 so that it can be treated more effectively. "The Biovitals® Sentinel solution is scalable and ready to be deployed in any country or region that wants to engage in similar disease monitoring or for patient care delivery," Rajput said. "We look forward to helping any other academic medical centers, government agencies or other entities that would be interested in a similar partnership."

For information, visit: 



LifeNet International

March 31

Vulnerable and underserved people in sub-Saharan Africa face some of the harshest healthcare realities in the world. Poor-quality healthcare services contribute to low life expectancy; high rates of maternal, child and infant mortality; and widespread death and disease. In times of pandemic, these negative outcomes grow exponentially. It is expected that COVID-19 will sicken and kill a devastating number of individuals in sub-Saharan Africa.

In response, IiH innovagtor LifeNet International is dedicated to saving and improving lives in the region by providing care at local, faith-based facilities where the most underserved patients often go for help. With a focus on vulnerable populations, including women and children, we ensure health workers have the knowledge and tools they need to effectively diagnose, treat, and save lives with compassion and confidence.

LifeNet International is uniquely positioned at this moment to have an immediate and lasting impact on healthcare facilities that will very soon be treating thousands of COVID-19 patients.

The organization's network of 220 faith-based health facilities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Malawi, and Uganda sees more than 2.5 million patient visits a year in a catchment area of nearly 5 million. On average, LifeNet’s training and support doubles the quality of care provided at these facilities at a programming cost of just $1 per patient visit. The organization does this by training health workers and facility managers in best practices and by ensuring good access to and management of medicines and equipment.

As COVID-19 is poised to devastate Africa in the coming weeks and months, LifeNet is ready to save lives by training, equipping, and supporting frontline healthcare workers in these 220 healthcare facilities to safely and efficiently provide high-quality medical care to all patients that arrive at their doors with COVID-19 symptoms. LifeNet’s experience in Ebola readiness in the region, years of effective infection prevention training, and expertise in health worker education primes the organization for a quick and comprehensive response to COVID-19.

Workers are currently:

  • Training staff on COVID-19 infection prevention, diagnosis, and proper treatment
  • Strengthening every health facility’s infection prevention controls
  • Providing handwashing stations
  • Supporting community education on COVID-19



Duke University Provides Clearinghouse for COVID19 Relief Funds 

The Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business (@CASEatDuke) has launched a website, #COVID19CapitalRelief, to provide a searchable database of grants, loans and other cash equivalents that can help entrepreneurs, nonprofits and businesses anywhere in the world. Relief resources are listed at global, national and regional levels.

Billions of dollars are available—ranging from $2,500 grants to a total of $14 billion in loan funds earmarked by the World Bank and the IFC.

  • Many of the resources are governmental. The federal relief bill in Congress has gotten a lot of press, but states and cities have sprung into action as well. There are so many new programs that @CASEatDuke lists other organizations’ lists and will continue to update those lists. One site recommended for comprehensive state-level resources is "Gusto."
  • Corporations are acting fast as well, but few have dedicated significant funds to entrepreneurs. Take a look at the list, Just Capital, that includes those that do.
  • Foundations are extremely active as new collaboratives, especially for grants with flexible terms.
  • National-level data is heavy on U.S. and U.K. resources. Information on programs specific to countries in Asia, Africa and the rest of Europe is needed. Send suggestions to:  



Bodhi Health Education 

March 27

IiH innovator Bodhi Health Education is joining the fight against COVID-19 and has this message for all of us. These are unprecedented times for our frontline teams when healthcare facilities are turning into battlegrounds. Talk2Support guide can help in having supportive conversations while managing stress and burn-out. Take a moment to be there for each other.


March 27 

IiH innovator Muso joins a growing global movement of providers, policymakers, and citizens working to stop the spread of COVID-19. For our patients in Mali and for patients around the world, we bear witness to the violence of delay. Outbreaks feed on delay. Delays in testing, delays in care, delays in supported isolation—these delays have fueled the rapid spread of COVID-19 around the globe. At Muso, we’re taking action to: 

* Support and accompany our government partners to accelerate case detection, care, and supported isolation

* Continue rapid access to healthcare for everyone we serve

* Protect our health workers as they serve bravely on the frontlines 

This week, Mali confirmed its first cases of COVID-19. At the request of our government partners, we have developed protocols, tools, and curriculum for frontline providers and contact monitors, building from evidence-based best practices and global recommendations. We have also modified and built on our own treatment protocols to protect providers and patients. We’ve conducted key trainings with our own Community Health Workers, CHW Supervisors and staff, and are rolling out further trainings with our government partners at the clinic and hospital levels. We will be surging our training, technical assistance, support, and care in the days ahead. Our focus will remain on what we know how to do best: to reach patients who need care with exceptional speed. We are also honored to rally with the Community Health Impact Coalition for global investments where they are most needed to protect the most vulnerable patients.

If you have ideas or questions, please reach out to us at, and look for updates at


Swasth Foundation 

May 26

IiH innovator Swasth Foundation answered the call to combat COVID-19 by circulating verified information via messages, calls, and other social media tools to residents of Mumbai's urban slums. During the past two months, the organization has been immersed in pivoting its model to provide Covid-19 relief. As a result of this effort, Swasth has directly supported more than 25,000 families in obtaining the essentialsfood, medical care and health information. The organization has supplied PPE for healthcare providers working in 20 organizations. Swasth has provided coronavirus-related education to more than 80,000 individuals via broad-based online and phone engagement. 

Founded in 2009, Swasth is a non-profit social enterprise committed to improving the well-being of the poor by providing a range of affordable and high-quality primary-preventive health services. In the current atmosphere of anxiety and chaos caused by misinformation, Swasth is looking for volunteers to call patients and talk with them about their doubts and experiences with the aim of supplying information and understanding what support they need. If you would like to contribute your time and effort towards this cause, go through the basic requirements and register on the link below. The Swasth team will reach out with further details.

Basic Requirements

  • Local language proficiency, speaking and listening, in Hindi or Marathi
  • Good communication and deep listening skills
  • Smart Phone, laptop, or PC
  • Zoom video conference on your phone or laptop for initial training
  • Basic Microsoft Excel skills
  • Minimum time commitment of two hours per day
  • Willingness to undergo a two-hour training


For information, please contact us at +91 9953853166 or



March 27

As COVID-19 shutters our workplaces and brings travel to a standstill, our global health innovators are springing into action and answering the call for novel healthcare inventions to fight the novel virus. Among them is THINKMD. Over the past two months, the organization has built a digital COVID-19 screening, education and disease monitoring tool to address key challenges of the pandemic in three specific ways.

  • Increase access to screening: Provide a screening tool for individuals to assess themselves, family members or friends for risk of the coronavirus infection, especially in communities where testing is limited or non-existent.
  • Provide factual information: Share simple and accurate information to help guide decisions on when to seek medical care and when to stay at home. The tool also provides up-to-date preventive and protection information based on the latest WHO guidance.
  • Gain pandemic insights: Use the acquired population health and epidemiological data to analyze and perform predictive disease modeling on the emergence and expansion of COVID-19 in communities, regions, and countries. This will benefit health ministries and policymakers by providing them with the information they require to develop and monitor their COVID-19 response and help them plan for the efficient allocation of resources.

THINKMD has released its initial version of this free tool, and it is already being used by thousands of people across the globe.
The company is looking for individuals and partners to help accelerate the impact of this technology, and asking for suggestions about how to improve the technology and distributie it to those who could benefit the most.

For information about THINKMD’s free COVID-19 Screening & Education Tool, go to: For questions and information about the organization, contact:




March 27

IiH innovator Dimagi, Inc. has responded to the crisis by offering its support to governmental and non-governmental initiatives around the world. Dimagi is a digital health innovator headquartered in the United States with offices in New Delhi, India and Cape Town, South Africa. The company’s flagship product, CommCare, is an award-winning, open-source mobile data collection and service delivery platform.

"During the 2014-2015 Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in West Africa, Dimagi supported several organizations to deploy mobile applications on CommCare for numerous use cases," CEO Jonathan Jackson shared. "Through this experience, we saw a direct demonstration of the value of digital tools that can be rapidly deployed in offline settings." A 2018 study that reviewed 58 mobile health technologies used during the outbreak found that only two tools, including CommCare, supported all seven technical characteristics and the four key functionalities relevant to Ebola outbreak response.

When COVID-19 was deemed a global pandemic by the WHO, Dimagi took what it learned from Ebola and began to offer pro bono subscriptions for projects that required mobile applications for COVID-19 response. Through the support of generous funders, Dimagi has also quickly stood up free resources for organizations, including developing a free mobile applications that help with different phases of the response effort. They were able to launch their first template application based on the World Health Organization’s FFX protocol for case reporting and contact tracing in a matter of days, and saw over 200 downloads in the first day. A video demo of the application can be found here.

Dimagi continues to build technology for the COVID-19 response while also providing direct support to governments and organizations around the world. Government health systems are already using their technology at all ends of the development spectrum--rom hospitals outside of San Francisco (demo here) to Nigeria and, soon, Sierra Leone 

While Dimagi is witnessing a rapid growing demand for digital platforms to support community-based COVID-19 response efforts, Jackson warned of the dangers of building solutions for only one part of the pandemic. "As health systems increase their response efforts, community health workers and other frontline workers will play a crucial role in responding to the pandemic as well as supporting case reporting, surveillance, contact tracing, and community education," he shared. "We urge organizations to move quickly to equip their communities and community-based workers with the best tools that can support not just one, but all phases of the pandemic through pre-built solutions." 

Dimagi is frequently updating this comprehensive description of how CommCare can help with COVID-19 response. Please feel free to share with any organization that might benefit, as well as with funders that would be interested in supporting the development of new template applications for organizations working on the frontlines. If you have any questions, please email


Jacaranda Health

May 29

IiH innovator Jacaranda Health/Jacaranda Maternity is responding to COVID-19 by adapting its digital platforms to address the needs of mothers and babies during the crisis.

During the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, one tragic consequence of trying to control the spread of Ebola was the decline in maternal care-seeking for fear of exposure to the disease and a corresponding increase in maternal deaths and stillbirths. As Kenya joins the list of countries implementing tough measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the lessons learned from Ebola have inspired us to think critically about our mission to remain focused on supporting government hospitals to deliver high quality, essential services for mothers and babies. 

Most recently, we at Jacaranda Maternity partnered with Little Cabs to provide pregnant patients with safe rides to obstetric appointments during government-stipulated curfew hours. Specially licensed cab drivers now transport patients in need of care to Jacaranda Maternity Hospital free of charge. This initiative is our organization's latest effort to reassure expectant mothers and make it easier for them to access care. More mothers than ever before are shying away from seeking maternity care in medical facilities due to fears around COVID-19 and violating government curfews. A recent Lancet study estimated that this could mean 1.2 million additional child deaths and 56,700 additional maternal deaths in Africa over a six-month period.

As we continue to navigate this new challenge, we are leveraging all the tools at our disposal. PROMPTS, our two-way digital health support platform for expectant and new mums, reaches more than 120,000 women across the country. The number of questions from anxious mothers grow every day:

  • How can we and our babies survive Coronavirus?
  • Should I take my baby to the clinic during Coronavirus?
  • I am afraid to deliver my baby at the hospital because of Coronavirus, is it OK if I deliver at home?

Mums are seeking information so they can make the best health decisions for themselves and their babies. This highlights an important role for maternal and newborn health organizations: provide accurate information about the effects of COVID-19 on pregnancy and babies and how to seek care during this time. We are studying and updating ways to:

  • leverage our digital health platform to ensure that pregnant women and new mothers have the information they need to seek care at the right time and place, and do not get left behind during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • effectively support our network of nurse mentors and  county partners to continue providing life-saving maternal and newborn care alongside their responses to the outbreak. 

Our Help Desk agents are actively using information as it becomes available to best support our users. We are also adding capacity on our digital health platform with fresh COVID-19 content and new tools. Our tech team has created a COVID-19 informational Bot on SMS and Telegram to provide instant responses to frequently asked pregnancy and postpartum related questions, as well as county-specific health facility updates. We are happy to share this tool with other organizations in the space.  

We are supporting our network of nurse mentors--111 government hospital practitioners in 150+ facilities--and five county government partners by developing resource-efficient tools that can help providers in maternity wards:    

  • Track changes in MNH service delivery: We are maintaining a log of closures and service hour changes, and sharing this information with PROMPTS users so they know when and where to seek care. As facilities implement localized responses, we will coordinate with them to support resolutions for any service delivery disruptions.
  • Support providers with up-to-date and accurate information: The nurse mentorship team is receiving increasing requests from frontline nurses for information. As a result, they have developed and shared a COVID-19 CME for training use at partner facilities, including evidence on international and national guidelines for antenatal, intrapartum and postpartum care during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Share best practices across counties: County health managers are leveraging our presence in multiple counties to act as a liaison and connector between county coordinators, to share best practices and learn from each other.
  • Support a transition to remote work using digital communications tools: All Jacaranda-supported government meetings are now conducted using teleconference tools, and we are supporting our government partners in learning and deploying communication tools that can help them manage their work and teams remotely.

As we continue to monitor and adapt to the unfolding situation, we are also looking to engage and learn from others who are doing the same.  We are connected to frontline healthcare experiences and collecting data that can help to define conversations around how the global health community can participate in the response. We can honor the lessons learned from the Ebola outbreak by monitoring the situation in real time, developing and sharing best practices, and investing in the smartest and most efficient approaches that allow us to effectively respond to COVID-19 without ignoring essential health services.

Jacaranda is a nonprofit organization in Kenya who primarily focuses on maternal, child, and reproduction health by working to improve the quality of care in public hospitals as well as creating high-quality and affordable maternity hospitals. To learn more and support Jacaranda Health as they help mothers and babies stay informed about COVID-19, please visit



March 26

As the Covid-19 pandemic spreads like wildfire across the world, the psychological toll it is taking on all of us is mounting--anxiety, the stress of social distancing, remote work, quarantines, and even financial concerns as individuals worry about their jobs and savings. Further, burnout among frontline healthcare workers is emerging as a key risk, as healthcare systems struggle to cope.

IiH and Accenture's Open Innovation partners in India are doing some amazing work in this space. @Wysa has a unique, anonymous (digital+human) platform for mental health support at scale. With ~2 million users from 30+ countries, it is a global leader, the #1 digital mental health solution in the #NHS UK, and also the top app recommended for health anxiety and social isolation. 

Wysa has now created free tool packs for dealing with pandemic stress and anxiety. These can be accessed from this link:

And to help health workers manage burnout, they have opened up access to all their digital premium content. (This is a great way of saying #thankyou!) @joaggarwal @ramakantvempati #openinnovation #startups #healthinnovation #deeptech #mentalhealth


Penda Health 

March 25 

Penda Health provides comprehensive healthcare services at clinics throughout Nairobi, Kenya, utilizing a patient-centric approach to address key outpatient needs at an affordable cost. This mission places Penda on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response.

“We are preparing our medical centers and staff to respond with the right supplies and protocols (tech-enabled!), launching a call center to triage patients over the phone, developing a mass education campaign that is relevant to those living in low-income areas, and working closely with local partners and the government to coordinate all efforts,” said Monica Dey, Penda’s Global Partnerships Manager, on Wednesday. “We know that it’s critical to respond as early and swiftly as possible, so the whole team is working very hard.”

Q. Are you facing any new challenges since your last check-in call with us?

A. Covid-19 has, of course, presented a huge challenge to Penda. We are expecting cases to grow exponentially, especially in the low-income areas where we work. I am incredibly proud of how our team has pivoted and adapted our activities and strategies quickly. In addition to decision support tools that we had already integrated into our EMR (thanks to GHIG funding!), we have quickly developed and integrated a decision support tool specifically for Covid-19 into our EMR, which is already being used by our providers. Watch our Chief Medical Officer explain this system here! 

Q. Do you need to pivot your project, and if so, how?

A. In-person trainings are now more difficult, but our Director of Clinical Services is still able to conduct trainings at our medical centers, with proper social distancing measures. These are currently focused on Covid-19. So, our plans to create the decision support tools and conduct trainings around pneumonia and gastroenteritis will be delayed for a while. We definitely still want to roll out those tools/trainings, but the timeline is a bit uncertain right now. We are so grateful for GHIG's support and flexibility during this time.

Q. What assistance, if any, can we provide to you at this point?

A. Penda has launched a full-scale response to Covid-19, and we could use financial support for a number of activities. We are currently using the call below, as we urgently seek resources to help our patients and communities during this difficult time.

Covid-19 has hit Kenya, and we need help fighting it. 

Covid-19 has hit Kenya, and we are expecting cases to grow rapidly. As Penda Health, we are already working closely with our private and public sector partners to coordinate public education and response efforts. Penda’s medical centers are located in highly populated, low-income areas that will be hardest hit by this disease and least able to implement protective measures. As a highly trusted provider in our communities, we can slow the spread and save lives. 

On the first day of the outbreak, listen to our CEO and Co-Founder Stephanie Koczela talk about how Penda has been preparing:

Penda's clinical response to COVID-19 can be viewed here:

We are already taking action and constantly updating our offerings in this document. We need financial support, and speed is of the essence. Your support will be critical in saving lives. Due to a generous donor, your contribution will be MATCHED up to $220,000 USD! 

To donate, use our GoFundMe for USD donations, our M-Changa for KSH donations, and/or email Monica Dey ( with any questions.  


A Panel Discussion with the Experts on COVID-19

March 17

When the COVID-19 viral outbreak forced us to cancel our 2020 Annual Forum slated for March 16 and 17 in Washington, DC, the team pivoted quickly to add a session on the topic to a packed agenda and turn the in-person event to a virtual one. Shortly thereafter, the World Health Organization formally declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic. Now, almost every country faces enormous challenges in preparing for and responding to this public health emergency. Healthcare innovators, especially those operating in low-resource settings, will likely be on the front lines. The session focused on the role of the health innovation community in dealing with COVID-19:

  • What have we learned from other corona viruses?
  • How contagious, how fatal is COVID-19?
  • How can we protect ourselves and our families without feeding the hysteria?
  • How can the health innovation community best contribute to fighting the spread of COVID-19?
  • Why are strong health systems critical for global health security?

The panel featured:


Diana Silimperi, MD, visiting professor of Global Health at Duke University Silimperi is a public health pediatrician and epidemiologist. She brings more than 35 years of experience leading the design and implementation of integrated healthcare service delivery and health system strengthening programs in more than 50 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. She has been a leader in critical public health strategies, including quality improvement and the role of front-line health workers. More recently she has championed the importance of private sector contributions to global health security, and the essential role of the community in early detection and response. Silimperi earned her BS in Zoology/Psychology and her MD from Duke University, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. She served as an EIS Officer in the CDC’s Arctic Investigation Lab focusing on infectious disease surveillance, followed by several years in Alaska as Medical Director of the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation. Silimperi began her international career at Johns Hopkins, working in Bangladesh at the International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research. Since then, she has lived or worked in more than 30 countries and held leadership positions in several large global health development companies, including Senior Vice President for Global Health at Abt Associates. Silimperi joined DGHI in 2019 as a Visiting Professor in the Practice of Global Health, where she is working closely with the Education team to strengthen course offerings and learning experiences to better prepare graduates aimed at global health practitioner careers. She also contributes to the Duke Global Health Innovation Center and Innovations in Healthcare, focusing on transforming health systems to promote uptake and sustainability of cutting-edge health innovations. 


Jonathan “Jono” D. Quick, MD, MPH, is an Adjunct Professor at the Duke Global Health Institute and author of The End of Epidemics. Quick has served as President and CEO of Management Sciences for Health, Director of Essential Drugs and Medicines Policies at the World Health Organization, resident advisor for MSH in health system development and financing in Afghanistan and Kenya, and Chief of Staff/Clinical Director in the U.S. Public Health Service, Talihina, Oklahoma. He has carried out assignments to improve public health in more than 70 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. He also holds appointments at Harvard Medical School and Boston University School of Public Health.  

He is creator of MDS-3: Managing Access to Medicines and Health Technologies and a contributor to The Financial Times Guide to Executive HealthPreventive Stress Management in Organizations. He has written more than 100 other books, chapters, and articles in leading medical journals. His op-eds, blogs and letters have appeared in TIME MagazineWall Street JournalThe GuardianNew York TimesMs. MagazineForbesHuffington Post,  and elsewhere. He has contributed to Trinity Forum Readings on the lives and faith of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Nelson Mandela, and human rights pioneer Bartolomé Las Casas. Quick has served on the board of directors for the Global Health Council, InterAction, Partnership for Supply Chain Management, and Clapham Servants. He was a resident and chief resident in the Duke Family Medicine program, graduated sum cum laude from Harvard College and received an MD with distinction in research and MPH from the University of Rochester. He was recently interviewed about COVID-19 for an article in The Guardian


Don Goldmann, MD, Professor, Immunology and Infectious Diseases, and Epidemiology, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and Chief Scientific Officer, Emeritus, and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Goldmann is a former member of CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service and helped develop infection prevention guidelines in the United States for the CDC and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America and in low-resource countries for USAID. He has experience in responding to SARS and H1N1 and teaches a course on Infectious Diseases and Social Injustice at Harvard. One of the most significant consequences of COVID-19 is the disproportionate impact on the poor and disenfranchised around the world. As he says in his Harvard course, “The poor are the first to suffer and the first to be blamed.” Goldmann is Vice-Chair of the Advisory Committee of the Institute for Medicaid Innovation. He also serves on a number of advisory committees and boards, including the National Quality Forum’s Primary Care and Chronic Illness Standing Committee. He is a former Chair of the AHRQ National Advisory Council and the Board of Academy Health.