Guest Blog: The DevelopmentXChange Pitch Competition

Guest Blogger: Amanda Hirsch


Saving Lives at Birth, along with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), hosted DevelopmentXChange, the fifth annual pitch competition held by the partnership to call upon innovators from around to identify and scale up groundbreaking prevention and treatment approaches for pregnant women and newborns in poor, hard-to-reach communities.

Fifty-three finalists from the pool of innovators joined this year’s DevelopmentXChange in Washington, DC to participate in the final stage of the competition. They gathered to actively network their ideas with innovators, investors and partners, display their innovations in an open Marketplace, and compete for grants to make their innovations reality.

Amongst the 53 finalists, the first to present was a representative of the Pumani by 3rd Stone Design. Half of premature babies struggle to breath upon birth. This product expands upon the existing Bubble Continuous Positive Airway (bCPAP) technologies that are commonly used in the developed world to treat neonates with compromised respiratory systems by maintaining positive airway pressure during breathing, preventing airway collapse and improving oxygenation.

The Pumani, named after the Malawian term for “breathe restfully,” is as cheaper, easily-transportable version of the original bCPAP. The Pumani is currently being used by 700 clinical staff in 40 hospitals in Malawi and surrounding African countires. 2,000 patients have been treated with 170 Pumani devices to date and have seen survival rates of 64.6% with usage compared to rates of 23.5% from the use of oxygen alone. Creators of the Pumani hope to receive sufficient funds to manufacture hundreds more devices and to develop a sales and distribution team.

Next, innovators of Emory University pitched their Skin Immunization Microneedle Patch. Each year 1.5 million babies and children die of vaccine-preventable diseases. Low socioeconomic status, little-to-no access to healthcare facilities to receive vaccinations, and difficulty transporting and storing vaccines to remote and rural populations have severely impacted vaccination rates in hard-to-reach communities.

The vaccination patch, a small square covered in microneedles that will vaccinate a subject against one or multiple diseases within minutes is proposed to be the solution to this problem. The Skin Immunization Microneedle patch can be stored in unfavorable elements, transported easily, requires minimal storage space, and eliminates the burden of biohazard sharps. So far, the patch has successfully provoked immune responses to H1N1 and tetanus. Innovators of the Emory University team wish for funding to begin conducting human studies for the patch.

Third, innovators from the University of Toronto sought to address iron deficiency in pregnant women, particularly in Southeast Asia. Iron deficiency causes 150,000 maternal deaths each year. To address this problem, the Toronto teamed proposed food fortification- to fortify tea with iron. Tea was chosen to be fortified because it is the sole product that is universally purchased across Southeast Asia. People from all walks of life- rich, poor, urban, rural, must go to purchase tea.

Mimicking the iron fortification of salt which has cured one million people of anemia, it was proposed that iron be microencapsulated into tea that can be processed in the body. Innovators of the iron-fortified tea seek funds to work on managing the taste, distribution, and exploration of their product.

The remaining of the 53 innovators also presented at the DevelopmentXChange pitch competition. To learn more about the innovators, products, competition, and organization, visit http://www.savinglivesatbirth.net.


twitter photoAmanda Hirsch is a summer Global Health intern for APHA. She is starting her final undergraduate year at the GWU Milken Institute School of Public Health. Her passion for global health began in rural Honduras, and she is particularly interested in disparities in healthcare systems that affect the Latino community. She intends to pursue an MPH degree with a dual concentration in Community-Oriented Primary Care and Global Health. You can follow her on Twitter at @amandahirsch12.

Global Health News Last Week

The 13th Triennial World Congress on Public Health, to be hosted by the Ethiopian Public Health Association and held from April 21-29, 2012 in Addis Ababa, will bring together leaders in health from across the globe. The conference, “Towards Global Health Equity: Opportunities and Threats,” is currently accepting abstracts; the deadline is Friday, October 21, at 12 a.m. PT (3 a.m. ET). More information can be found here.

International Women’s Day was March 8.

On March 11, a 9.0 earthquake rocked Japan’s Chiba prefecture, followed by a colossal tsunami that washed entire villages away.


The world, of course, stands ready to help, but it is unlikely that most of the assistance will be needed, as Japan is one of the most disaster-ready countries in the world. Unfortunately, the explosions in several of the country’s nuclear plants means that the threat of radiation poisoning looms heavily.

POLICY

  • A panel of independent experts has released a report harshly criticizing the World Health Organization’s handling of the 2009 epidemic of H1N1 swine flu.
  • UN officials expressed concern that rising food and energy prices could compromise or even reverse progress toward the MDGs in developing nations.
  • UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has instructed senior managers to cut 3%, or US$5.4 billion, from budgets.
  • The Kenyan government has moved to strip HIV/AIDS of its special status and begin treating it as a chronic medical condition. It has begun implementing a disease integration model that will do away with emergency response measures and dismantle parallel administrative structures set up to manage the disease.

RESEARCH

  • HealthMap, a project that aggregates health and surveillance data from sounces such as the WHO, Google News, and Eurosurveillance, was launched recently to “[bring] together disparate data sources to achieve a unified and comprehensive view of the current global state of infectious diseases and their effect on human and animal health.”
  • According to a study done by Tuberculosis Research Centre in India, alarming numbers of women with TB become homeless after they are diagnosed. Approximately 100,000 women are abandoned by their husbands due to TB every year in India.
  • A group of researchers from EPFL’s Global Health Institute and Inserm (Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, the French government agency for biomedical research) has discovered that a class of chemotherapy drugs also kills the parasite that causes malaria.

PROGRAMS

  • Oxfam recently released a report criticizing the World Bank for its praise of Ghana’s healthcare system. Amanda Glassman of CGDev disagrees, arguing that Oxfam ignored surveys indicating the system’s success in improving health indicators and beneficiaries’ satisfaction with the quality of service.
  • On March 9, Saving Lives At Birth, a global partnership between USAID, the Government of Norway, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada, and the World Bank, was launched. The partnership “will seek innovative solutions to reduce maternal and newborn mortality in developing countries.”

DISEASES

  • Rwanda is on track to completely eliminate malaria, the first country in its region.