November 13, 2020

Improving Children's Healthcare Worldwide: A Look at Innovators

Today is the International Day for Protection of Children, more widely known as International Children’s Day. Started in 1925 by the World Conference for the Well-Being of Children, the day is an opportunity to reflect on both the challenges and progress being made on improving the lives of children around the world.

On Mother’s Day, we highlighted some of our Innovators that are working to improve maternal and child health. Many of our other innovators are also working towards improving the lives of children and their families in the communities they serve.

In East Africa, access to healthcare can be a challenge, particularly in rural communities. Afya Research Africa is helping to improve access with their Ubuntu-Afya kiosks, a network of community medical centers located in under-served rural and urban areas. The clinics are visited most frequently by mothers and children, providing much needed well baby and ante-natal care to these communities. The kiosks have proven so popular that over half were able to break even within a year of operation and they plan to double the number of kiosks in Kenya in 2016.

Penda Health also works to improve the healthcare of Kenyan families through a network of primary health clinics in Kenya. Originally envisioned as a women’s health clinic, Penda quickly learned that women in Nairobi preferred to have their reproductive health services done at a clinic where they could also bring their children and other family members when they are sick. Penda has also introduced small changes in service that women in other countries may take for granted. For example, Nicholas Sowden, one of the cofounders of Penda Health, explained at the 2016 Innovations in Healthcare Forum how they began giving printouts of ultrasounds to expecting parents as an extra perk of having their prenatal visits at a Penda clinic.
Innovators are also working hard to improve the lives of children in India. Sevamob connects under-served communities with primary healthcare and insurance through a system of mobile clinics. For about $2 USD a month, people in villages such as Kakori outside of Lucknow can get monthly access to a doctor and diagnostics.  In 2013 Sevamob also started a program called Seva Angels, where people can sponsor the primary healthcare for children living in orphanages in India.
Tuberculosis (TB) can have devastating effects on children in India and other developing countries, with an estimated 200 children dying daily from the disease. In areas where TB is endemic, up to 20% of all cases are among children. Operation ASHA wants to eradicate tuberculosis through their work opening TB treatment centers in underserved communities and ensuring compliance to TB treatment. Through the eCompliance system they had developed, Operation ASHA is able to track the treatment of all their patients and know if and when they have missed a dose of their medication. Since a TB patient must take up to 75 doses of the medication while under treatment, the risk runs high for patients to develop drug-resistant strains of the disease if not compliant. With eCompliance, Operation ASHA has seen the rate of treatment non-compliance drop to 1.5%, a significantly lower rate than the average clinic in India.

Watch more about Operation ASHA's delivery model in our video: