Alma Sana Wins Share of $1m Global Healthcare Innovation Award

  • .Innovation uses bracelets to stimulate uptake and demand for immunisation

Martins Ifijeh

Alma Sana has been awarded $100,000 for stimulating uptake and demand for immunisation, through simple practice of wearing a bracelet.

The Nigeria-based project group is one of four worldwide to have won a share of the fourth Healthcare Innovation Award from global healthcare company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Save the Children. This is the first time that an innovation in Nigeria has been recognized and Alma Sana is the only winner in Africa this year.

The innovation uses the simple bracelets to empower mothers by presenting them with a constant reminder of their baby’s vaccination schedules through symbols embedded in the bracelet, turning their babies’ ‘jewelry’ into a vaccine calendar and check-list.

The bracelets, which were designed by mothers and nurses, are low cost, waterproof, durable, baby-safe, and intended for parents living on US$1.25 or less a day. As the bracelet’s immunization reminders are represented through symbols and not words, they are suitable for both the literate and non-literate so that parents can more easily understand their children’s vaccination records and return on time for vaccinations.

In May 2012, Nigeria joined other member states of the World Health Assembly to endorse the Global Vaccine Action Plan; an agenda for universal access to immunization by 2020. However, the proportion of children that completed the immunization schedule in Nigeria is still very low; 25.3 per cent in 2013.

Nigeria implementing partner of Alma Sana, Dr Shola Dele-Olowu, said, “we are honored to receive this Award for Alma Sana Nigeria in recognition of our efforts. After proven success in Peru and Ecuador we will be running a pilot program in Nigeria. making this a great example of South-South cooperation. We will b working with the NPHCDA to test the effectiveness in improving timeliness and completeness of immunisation; we want to ensure that everyone has access to vaccinations and are excited to commence the pilot project over the next few weeks”.

Managing Director, GSK Pharmaceuticals Nigeria Ltd, Bhushan Akshikar, said, “the Healthcare Innovation Award was specifically designed with the understanding that those closest to a complex problem are best placed to design solutions to solve them. The successful implementation of this project will go a long way to support the Nigerian Government to achieve its Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) in line with this administration’s recently launched Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) – we look forward to the commencement of the pilot program.”

Deputy Country Director, Save the Children, Babatunde Ojei, said “immunisation is one of the world’s most powerful tools for reducing under-five mortality and morbidity. Alma Sana selected Nigeria for their next program because of its poor vaccination rates and large population. We welcome Alma Sana’s fantastic innovation, which can, and should, be replicated across Nigeria to support the hardest-to reach mothers and children to access immunization”.

On her part, the President, Alma Sana, Lauren Braun, said, “we are thrilled and honoured to receive this award and to be able to partner with DCL and NPHCDA on this important work. Given how much excitement and commitment there is around this project in Nigeria, it’s exciting to be able to bring these bracelets to parents so their children can be vaccinated on time. These bracelets could quite literally save these children’s lives so we are humbled to have such an incredible opportunity to help make that impact,” she added.

Related Articles