Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"Grand Challenges" Grants Available

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is accepting applications for Round 9 of the “Grand Challenges Explorations” initiative, a $100 million grant program to encourage innovation in global health and to develop research.

Immunization is one of the world’s most cost-effective health interventions. However, each year, approximately 25 million infants are not fully vaccinated and at least 2.4 million children die from vaccine-preventable diseases. In spite of the success of immunization programs, one in five children still do not have access to basic vaccines.

The cost of traditional vaccines such as measles, diphtheria-tetanus, and polio is low. Because the investments in vaccines are costly to discover and develop and because some of them are complex to manufacture, the cost for newer vaccines is significantly higher. This is causing the need for changes to effectively deliver vaccines globally.

There are challenges in delivering vaccines that includes having enough cold storage space, working with outdated immunization supply systems. In addition, current information systems designs do not incorporate advances in technology that could help guide immunization program managers to plan and execute program strategies. Also competent, motivated, and empowered personnel are not always available to meet the supply challenges within low and middle income countries

Included in the Topics for Grand Challenges Round 9, is the need to find innovative and low-cost solutions to meet the basic logistics information needed to maintain and upgrade vaccine supply systems at the intermediate and at the lowest levels of a low-income country government’s supply chain. Health workers need to be able to transport increasing quantity and volume of vaccines to remote or hard-to-reach areas. The grant program will not accept proposals that are based or use an SMS platform solely to send reminders.

This specific topic in the grant application is looking to incorporate software tools that can be used to track global supply location information to optimize logistics and track delivery routes. There is a need to also design a pilot to demonstrate how to cost-effectively minimize the environmental impact when making supply system design choices and/or selecting new technologies.

Another topic in Round 9 deals with countries and their readiness to accept vaccines and provide for vaccination programs. Innovative, affordable and sustainable approaches are needed to increase the understanding, reach, and public acceptance of immunizations utilizing creative approaches.

Another topic in Round 9 addresses the need for innovative tools to enable countries, donors, and procurement agencies to assess the systems costs and benefits of specific types of vaccine product presentations and formulations, rather than on product price alone.

For more information, go to Applications will be accepted through May 15, 2012.