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Photo by Quintin Mills

Connecting to Clinic

Grand Prize Winner: North Star Alliance

Prize amount: $100,000

Winning Innovation:

North Star Alliance’s winning innovation provides a simple yet effective method of providing access to free, high-quality health services for mobile populations in sub-Saharan Africa. The solution? Establishing a network of ‘Blue Boxes’ – converted shipping containers offering medical services to people who do not have easy access to healthcare.

The Blue Box clinics are placed at transit ‘hotspots’ throughout sub-Saharan Africa, such as border posts, truck stops and mining areas, where mobile workers congregate and informal trade flourishes. This innovative approach to healthcare provision solves the wide-spread problem of getting people to clinics in resource limited settings by bringing the clinics to people!

Inside the Blue Boxes, a team of experienced nurses and clinical staff provide quality, non-stigmatising care to vulnerable populations. This includes essential healthcare, HIV testing and road safety services for truck drivers whose work limits access to hospitals; for sex workers fearful of visiting government clinics; and for all people living in low-income, roadside and isolated communities. A core component of North Star’s mission is to curb transmission of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, among people who do not have access to testing, treatment or counselling services.

By building partnerships with governments, private companies and civil society organisations, North Star Alliance aims to extend the impact of the Blue Box clinics by linking them with an electronic health passport system – COMETS – to make health records accessible for people in transit and provide follow-up SMS messages to patients. Since their inception, North Star’s Blue Box clinics have provided more than 1.7 million clinical and educational sessions, representing significant uptake in healthcare services across regions which previously had little or no easily accessible clinics. The Connecting to Clinic prize will allow immediate, effective scale-up of the project.

For North Star Alliance, winning the Connecting to Clinic prize opens the door to providing more people with access to essential healthcare services. Our 'Blue Box' approach to healthcare thinks outside the box to reach mobile workers in Africa and the communities they interact with. With our impact only limited by our reach, the support of ViiV Healthcare is poised to amplify our impact, and help us to provide more people with access to one of the most basic of human rights: health.” Ylse van der Schoot, Executive Director, North Star Alliance

Description of organisation:

North Star Alliance brings health services to hard-to-reach people across Africa in ‘Blue Boxes’ – converted shipping containers – to house clinics that deliver public health programmes for people with increased health risks and primary health care to communities with limited or no access to medical services.

Grand Prize Winner: 2020 MicroClinic Initiative

Prize amount: $100,000

Winning Innovation:

2020 MicroClinic Initiative began its innovative program, Operation Karibu (OpK) in 2012 with an incentive program designed to increase prenatal care and skilled deliveries in rural Kenya. With OpK, skilled delivery rates tripled in target communities (from as low as 17%) and over 5,000 deliveries have been documented to date with no child deaths.

OpK now includes a three-pronged approach: 1) a baby clothing programme 2) birth preparation & care training and 3) an emergency transportation fund – all geared towards connecting women to clinic and minimising the cost of skilled delivery. After delivering their baby in a health care facility, mothers receive a package of baby clothing sewn locally by community health workers using donated t-shirts. The sewing program includes training and provides a source of income, increasing the impact and sustainability of the model.

The initiative also provides mothers access to a first-of-its-kind emergency fund to cover transport and offers pregnant women and their birth companion a birth preparation and infant care training programme. The programme aims to further increase skilled deliveries and antenatal & postnatal care, with a growing emphasis on HIV testing of fathers.

Photo by Jason Dixson Photography

The programme provides a new approach to prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, greater linkage to care and an opportunity to enhance healthcare coordination by embedding OpK within existing public clinics in the health system. Crucially, this allows for planned scale-up of the model on a sustainable basis since clinics are reimbursed by the government for each delivery. As the number of deliveries increases, so do reimbursements.

The prize will also fund implementation of an M-health component of ZiDi™, an app that assists with patient diagnosis, tracks patient outcomes, and improves inventory management and health worker productivity. Making patient data available for mothers is crucial in Kenya to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV and ensure maternal and newborn health.

In a society where fifteen-year old girls are already mothers of two, there was need for innovative thinking so young women can be empowered to take charge of their own lives and in turn impact the community. The PAC prize is a transformational opportunity to scale a new model for knowledge transfer between the health system and the mothers seeking maternal and child health services.” Dr. Moka Lantum, Founder, 2020 MicroClinic Initiative

Description of organisation:

2020 MicroClinic Initiative is non-profit organisation with a mission to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for women in underserved communities by improving access to a safe delivery, prenatal and postnatal services. The signature program of 2020 MicroClinic Initiative, Operation Karibu, seeks to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for mothers in rural Kenya, while providing baby clothes to mothers who deliver in clinics.

Incubation Prize Winner: Health Access Connect

Prize amount: Up to $50,000*

Winning Innovation:

Health Access Connect’s (HAC) winning entry will implement small, mobile healthcare clinics in remote Ugandan villages using motorcycle taxis. The innovative service will transport health workers with medicine, equipment and blood samples to and from health centres by adapting and modifying commonly available transportation – motorcycles – to provide essential health services to communities in need.

Motorcycle drivers will transport health workers and supplies to several villages per month, providing local communities with much-needed access to routine check-ups; immunisations; deworming; antimalarial services; and testing, treatment and care for people at risk of and living with HIV. The programme is projected to provide at least 1,050 patients with essential health services in the first year of operation and more than 15,000 by the end of year two, the vast majority of whom are living on less than $2 per day.

The Incubation Prize will collect proof of concept data to assess the long-term sustainability, cost-effectiveness and scalability of the programme in other regions. The micro-financing model employed by HAC will be piloted to evaluate its on-going viability in resource-limited settings to ensure impactful health outcomes are achieved and optimised. Collection of population health data is crucial to informing the pilot programme and all findings will be made freely available to allow other organisations to implement the model in other countries if successful. 

Description of organisation:

Health Access Connect is a non-profit organisation that sets up mobile clinics in remote areas within resource-limited settings. Mobile health workers provide access to services including antiretroviral treatment, HIV testing and counselling, child checkups, malaria testing and other health services.

*Up to $50,000 may be awarded upon successful demonstration of proof of concept requirements