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Innovative Health Projects Funded by Canada Help Save Women and Children

  • Published: 2014-05-22 : Author: Grand Challenges Canada : Contact: Lode Roels - - Ph. 647-328-2021
  • Synopsis: $12 million in scale-up projects and seed grants announced as Canada prepares to host world summit on maternal, newborn and child health on May 28-30.

From a "lucky iron fish" placed in tens of thousands of Asian cooking pots to reduce anemia, to "motherhood insurance" to ensure that poverty doesn't impede emergency care if needed during a baby's delivery, to kits for home farming edible insects to improve nutrition in slums of Africa and Latin America, the 65 imaginative projects focus on a range of health problems that, despite major progress, continue to kill millions of women, newborns and children each year.

The Lucky Iron Fish is a social entrepreneurship organization implementing a simple health innovation to alleviate iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia in Cambodia, especially in women and children. Using the Lucky Iron Fish every day preparing food or sterilizing water, halves the incidence of clinical anemia and increases circulating and stored iron -

Four Canadian-based projects (from Guelph, Toronto, Waterloo and Winnipeg) with proven impact and sustainability will share $2.6 million in scale-up grants and loans from Grand Challenges Canada, matched by $2.6 million from private and public partners, bringing total "transition-to-scale" investments to $5.2 million.

In addition, Grand Challenges Canada "Stars in Global Health" seed grants of $112,000 each ($6.8 million in total) are awarded to:

Lucky Iron FishAbout This Image: Lucky Iron FishThe announcement coincides with preparations in Toronto to host 'Saving Every Woman Every Child: Within Arm's Reach', a global summit on maternal, newborn and child health, being held from May 28 to 30. Organized by the Government of Canada, the Summit will assess progress on the Canadian-led "Muskoka Initiative" inaugurated at the G8 meeting in 2010. Canada has been a world leader in promoting the health and reducing mortality rates of women and children in developing countries.

To be implemented across 25 low and middle-income countries, all of today's projects relate to the Summit goal of leveraging innovation. That also relates closely to one or more of the other critical issues at the heart of the Summit's agenda:

Examples include:

All projects, listed geographically:

All Canadian-based projects: 30 projects, including four transition to scale investments:

All projects listed by health priority:

Gabriel Mott, a founder of Aspire, helps a villager harvest farmed palm weevils. Novel farming technologies provide high protein edible insects and address food insecurity in slums in Ghana, Kenya and Mexico (McGill University, Montreal and Aspire, seed grant #0479). Photo Credit: AspireAbout This Image: Gabriel Mott, a founder of Aspire, helps a villager harvest farmed palm weevils. Novel farming technologies provide high protein edible insects and address food insecurity in slums in Ghana, Kenya and Mexico (McGill University, Montreal and Aspire, seed grant #0479). Photo Credit: Aspire"Our government is proud of the progress on promises Canada and other nations made as part of the Muskoka Initiative to improve the health and save the lives of women, newborns and children in the developing world," said the Honorable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and Minister for La Francophonie. "By supporting innovative proof-of-concept projects and the scale-up of proven ideas, and by leveraging additional private sector knowledge and funds, a difference is being felt in health conditions in developing countries. The creation of jobs here and abroad serves as an added benefit."

Dr. Peter A. Singer, Chief Executive Officer at Grand Challenges Canada notes that, Grand Challenges Canada selects projects that embody the "Integrated Innovation" approach - the combination of science and technology with social and business innovation to find sustainable solutions to health challenges.

"All of the projects announced today illustrate the power of innovation to save and improve the lives of women and children," says Dr. Singer. "Innovation really means that tomorrow will be a brighter day than today for those who need it the most in developing nations. I salute the global leadership Canada is showing in focusing the world's attention on saving every women and every child."

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