• Developer, Alma Sana Nigeria, wins share of N360m global Healthcare Award
Alma Sana has been awarded US$100,000 (about N360 million) for stimulating uptake and demand for immunization, through the simple practice of wearing a bracelet.
The Nigeria-based project group is one of four worldwide to have won a share of the fourth Healthcare Innovation Award from global healthcare company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Save the Children. This is the first time that an innovation in Nigeria has been recognized and Alma Sana is the only winner in Africa this year.
The innovation uses the simple bracelets to empower mothers by presenting them with a constant reminder of their baby’s vaccination schedules through symbols embedded in the bracelet, turning their babies’ ‘jewellery’ into a vaccine calendar and check-list.
The bracelets were designed by mothers and nurses, are low cost, waterproof, durable, baby-safe, and intended for parents living on US$1.25 or less a day. As the bracelet’s immunization reminders are represented through symbols and not words, they are suitable for both the literate and non-literate so that parents can more easily understand their children’s vaccination records and return on time for vaccinations. In May 2012, Nigeria joined other member states of the World Health Assembly to endorse the Global Vaccine Action Plan; an agenda for universal access to immunization by 2020. However, the proportion of children that completed the immunization schedule in Nigeria is still very low; 25.3 per cent in 2013.
Nigeria implementing partner of Alma Sana, Dr. Shola Dele-Olowu, said: “We are honored to receive this Award for Alma Sana Nigeria in recognition of our efforts. After proven success in Peru and Ecuador we will be running a pilot program in Nigeria making this a great example of South-South cooperation. We will be working with the NPHCDA to test the effectiveness in improving timeliness and completeness of immunization; we want to ensure that everyone has access to vaccinations and are excited to commence the pilot project over the next few weeks.”
Managing Director, GSK Pharmaceuticals Nigeria Limited, Bhushan Akshikar, said: “The Healthcare Innovation Award was specifically designed with the understanding that those closest to a complex problem are best placed to design solutions to solve them. The successful implementation of this project will go a long way to support the Nigerian Government to achieve its Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) in line with this administration’s recently launched Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) – we look forward to the commencement of the pilot programme.”
Deputy Country Director, Save the Children, Babatunde Ojei, said: “Immunization is one of the world’s most powerful tools for reducing under-five mortality and morbidity. Alma Sana selected Nigeria for their next program because of its poor vaccination rates and large population. We welcome Alma Sana’s fantastic innovation, which can, and should, be replicated across Nigeria to support the hardest-to reach mothers and children to access immunization.”