Saint Paul, MN 02/09/16 — Announcement at GIF launch event in London highlights investment in high tech, low-cost innovation to curb newborn mortality.
The Newborn Foundation, an international non-profit working to improve outcomes for newborns through medical innovation, has been awarded a $224,000 grant from the Global Innovation Fund (GIF). The grant will be used to expand the Newborn Foundation’s BORN Project, which is focused on bringing low-cost pulse oximetry screening technology to 93,000 newborns for earlier detection of life-threatening, but treatable health conditions.
Supported by the Department of International Development in the UK; the United States Agency for International Development; the Omidyar Network; the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency; and the Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade in Australia, the Global Innovation Fund leverages a venture capital inspired, tiered funding model, investing in social innovations that are more cost-effective, impactful and scalable than current solutions and can improve the lives and opportunities of millions of people in the developing world.
“The Newborn Foundation is honored to receive such a strong vote of confidence from GIF and its partners, which include some of the world’s most notable international development agencies,” said Annamarie Saarinen, Co-founder and CEO of the Newborn Foundation. “This funding is supporting our capacity to gather evidence-based data that will further develop the BORN Project’s scalable model for deploying critical newborn health program in low-resource settings. What’s incredible is that with this support, we also have potential to save or improve thousands of lives at our sites in China and the Philippines.”
The Global Innovation Fund cited the Newborn Foundation’s proven track record of successful public sector scaling as a primary reason for the investment. Having spearheaded the movement to make pulse oximetry screening standard practice in the United States and other developed countries, the Newborn Foundation has fostered the necessary relationships with medical teams and policymakers to make this an affordable, accessible and effective public health intervention in the pilot regions.
Each year, nearly 2.2 million babies die in their first week of life. More than 1/3 of all newborn deaths can be attributed to infection in the neonatal period, primarily pneumonia and sepsis. Working in collaboration with clinicians and industry technology innovator Masimo, the Newborn Foundation deployed a low-cost, mobile phone enabled pulse oximeter to measure blood oxygen levels in newborns. This screening costs less than USD$1 per child and has the potential to detect sepsis, pneumonia, and congenital heart defects significantly earlier than standard practice. The project includes training, policy development, data collection and analysis of screening results to determine whether pulse oximetry is a cost -effective way to save lives at birth and is poised for scale up if the results of the pilot study are positive. It is estimated that earlier detection of these conditions can reduce mortality by 25-30 percent. The BORN Project was also recently recognized during UN General Assembly at a Solutions Summit convened by the White House Office of Science and Technology, the UN Foundation and foreign governments to highlight solutions for achieving the new Sustainable Development Goals.
About the Global Innovation Fund
The GIF is a non-profit innovation fund headquartered in London. Supported by the Department of International Development in the UK; the United States Agency for International Development; the Omidyar Network; the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and the Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade in Australia, over USD $200 million has been pledged to fund GIF projects over the next five years.