Grand Challenges Canada, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) have joined together to support Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development. Together, we call for groundbreaking prevention and treatment approaches for pregnant women and newborns in poor, hard-to-reach communities around the time of childbirth.
Currently, more than 40 percent of maternal and newborn deaths and stillbirths occur on the day of birth, and newborn mortality rates account for 44 percent of all under-five child deaths. Further, virtually all of the 303,000 maternal deaths, 2.7 million newborn deaths, and 2.6 million stillbirths that occur each year happen in low- and middle-income countries. Given this staggering challenge, a strong and focused effort to enhance maternal and newborn health will be crucial to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Saving Lives at Birth program seeks to overcome these challenges by supporting the development and transition-to-scale of groundbreaking innovations in low and middle-income countries that accelerate substantial and sustainable progress against maternal and newborn deaths and in the prevention of stillbirths. Saving Lives at Birth seeks innovative solutions that are affordable, accessible, sustainable and of high quality across three focus areas: science and technology, service delivery, and demand creation.
Progress Against The Challenge
The Saving Lives at Birth program filled a gap in maternal and newborn health innovation by creating a highly competitive platform through which to source innovations of scientific excellence. Activities undertaken reflect the participation of all of the contributing partners.
The Saving Lives at Birth program has invested $84.3 million CAD to support 106 innovations in 21 countries, leveraging an additional $70 million. This pipeline of innovations is illustrated in the following diagram.
Many of the innovations supported are early in their development. Fourteen of the 18 innovations transitioning to scale from this program that we have modeled to date have the potential to save between 48,900–159,000 women and newborns by 2030. Given the early stage of the innovations, continuous support from the Saving Lives at Birth program has been important to drive progress along the path to impact.