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India & Canada collaborate to support health innovations in India


Rapid Fire

  • Clean Home birth kits worth $ 2
  • Low-cost & portable device to test for iron-deficiency anaemia
  • Toilet use in India improved by bundling TV subscriptions & other services

Three health technology innovations projects in India will receive support worth $1.8M from the Department of Biotechnology, Grand Challenges Canada and their partners.

This is part of the joint efforts by India and Canada to fund health innovations in India.

A Joint statement to this effect was issued by the two sides on the occasion of meetings of Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi with the Canadian Prime Minister Shri Stephan Harper.

While one of them will touch the lives of millions of mothers and newborns over three years by providing portable and affordable clean home birth kits another will screen 3 million people and treat 1.5 million people for anemia. The third project will improve toilet use in India by bundling TV subscriptions & other services.

The “janma Clean Birth Kit” of Ayzh Health and Livelihood Private Limited contains all the essential tools required to ensure safe and sterile conditions during a home birth, as recommended by the World Health Organization. The $2 kit includes a cord clamp, scalpel blade, sterile surface and sterilizing hand wipes – all contained in a biodegradable jute purse.

The funding will help Ayzh, which has already touched the lives of 500,000 individuals by selling over 250,000 kits, to reach its goal of providing 600,000 people with kits across India. The renewed funding will help expand distribution networks, increase production, and develop new kits for newborns and new moms.

Led by SDG Pioneer Zubaida Bai, Ayzh is dedicated to improving maternal health and reducing infant mortality, while also supporting the livelihoods of women across India.

With the push to have mothers deliver in facilities, care providers are struggling to keep up with the demand for their services, often resulting in unsanitary birth environments. Ayzh’s portable and affordable kits aim to buttress a struggling supply chain and help reduce maternal and newborn mortality.

Through this investment Ayzh will also expand its “kit-style” product line to other areas of maternal, newborn and child health. Several new products are already in development, including an essential newborn care kit, a post-partum haemorrhage kit, and a menstrual hygiene kit.

Detecting iron-deficiency anaemia without needles

Biosense (India) has developed an affordable, portable and needle-free screening tool they have developed, TouchHb, reduces the need for time-consuming lab analysis by pulling instant, reliable results from a non-invasive scan of a patient’s eyelid.

With the support from the funds it aims to screen 3 million people and treat 1.5 million people for anaemia.

In trials, the device was shown to be more accurate than the current standard for anaemia screening and more sensitive than any other non-invasive anaemia screening device on the market.

The TouchHb device, fitted over a patient’s eye, can measure the patient’s blood haemoglobin levels using light, minimizing risk of contamination while providing rapid results without costly transportation and lab analysis.

Biosense is seeking regulatory approvals to bring TouchHb to a broader market.

Some 1.5 billion people experience iron deficiency anaemia every year, which is especially dangerous for pregnant women who may suffer from fatal blood loss during childbirth and give birth to a low birth weight baby. Babies born to anaemic mothers are also more likely to experience developmental delays or suffer from anaemia themselves.

Early detection can help reduce anaemia-related deaths, but invasive tests that require needles, transportation materials, and extensive lab analysis are often out of reach for people living in low-resource settings. Tests like TouchHb are key test for increasing anaemia detection and preventing death for the hardest to reach populations.

Bundling TV subscriptions & other services to improve toilet use

Soon, up to 100,000 people will be able to access clean, safe and reliable community toilet facilities in India, thanks to the support received by Samagra Waste Management Private Limited (India).

To increase access to toilets and promote their use in India, Samagra, a social enterprise, works with municipal agencies to renovate and manage existing community toilet infrastructure with an emphasis on changing users’ behaviour through incentives.

Users are rewarded with extra services, including TV subscriptions and financial, bill payment and mobile phone top-up services. Users can access all the services for a monthly membership fee, which gives unlimited 24/7 access to safe toilet facilities.

By bundling toilet usage with other value-added household services that meet the critical needs of the poor, Samagra improves sanitation and breaks down the reputation of toilets in many communities as unsafe or unsanitary.

Over 600 million people practice open defecation in India. Diseases related to poor sanitation cost India an estimated $50 billion in lost productivity every year (equivalent to 6% of India’s GDP), with the largest burden falling on the country’s women and children.

Samagra successfully demonstrated its innovative model in the slums of Pune, India, where the ten community toilet blocks installed reached over 10,000 people. Results achieved included a 600 percent increase in the number of people paying for toilets, 492 first-time toilet users, 92 percent customer satisfaction and fewer reported sexual assaults.

The new toilet blocks in Pune are expected to increase the reach of the program to 100,000 daily users by August 2017.