Maternal and Child Health (MCH)
India is home to approximately one-third of the world’s malnourished children. Many of these malnourished babies are born to adolescent mothers in India. Malnourished women are less likely to deliver healthy babies, thereby perpetuating the inter-generational cycle of under-nutrition leading to wasting, stunting and poor development in children. Given its grave importance in India, the GCI partners have made MCH a core theme of the work of the partnership through three currently run programs: All Children Thriving (ACT), HBGDki India and KnIT. Each of these programs attempts to address MCH through different mechanisms, either by funding basic research to understand causal linkages, or by providing opportunities to share data on MCH within the country and abroad to understand the important patterns, trends and issues to better target research as well as policy.
Agriculture and Nutrition
Nutrition plays a key role in improving health outcomes for both mothers and children; a child born to a healthy mother is more likely to be healthy. By working in the area of nutrition, the partners aim to improve the nutritional state of the mothers and children of the country by encouraging innovations in agriculture, to possibly change the way that we receive nutrition. The Achieving Healthy Growth through Agriculture and Nutrition (AGN) and KnIT work in this area.
Sanitation and Hygiene
Hygiene and sanitation play a fundamental but often ignored role in development and health and without improvement in sanitation infrastructure and practices, any gains we make against infectious diseases and other health issues will be lost. By working in this area, Grand Challenges India, through the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge, encourages Indian innovators and entrepreneurs to lead the charge in conceptualizing truly novel and sustainable technologies and innovations to provide sanitation across the country, which could then possibly be used in other countries facing similar challenges.
The Wellcome Trust in 2017, announced the Innovator Awards that are also managed by the PMU-BIRAC, where the scheme seeks to support researchers who are developing healthcare innovations that could have a major and measurable impact on human health. Please visit https://wellcome.ac.uk/funding/innovator-awards for more details.
Data Integration, Policy Analysis and Dissemination
Effective research can be done and impactful policy created only when it is based on validated evidence. Substantive amounts of research is already being done all over the world but in a fragmented manner; some as published data, some in manuscripts form and some as unpublished datasets. There is therefore a pressing need to bring data from different sources together and to systematically analyze it to inform further research and policy formulation. The HBGDki India and KnIT programs work in this area and work synergistically by analyzing Indian and global data to identify the right questions that are important for India, collecting the available data, packaging it for policymakers and identifying research gaps to direct future research.
‘Great ideas come from everywhere’ and making initial funding available to even to people who may not have enough evidence to back their idea, may be the start of something big that could address the challenges we face today. This is the core belief behind this thematic area and today the GCI partners run the Grand Challenges Explorations –India program which is implemented by IKP Knowledge Park and managed by PMU-BIRAC.
Immunization and Infectious Disease
The PMU at BIRAC is currently working with the partners on thematic calls and programs that focus on various aspects of immunizations such as new vaccinations and systems to manage data as well as on the emerging threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).