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New USAID Global Health Innovation Index Ranking Framework

By Wayan Vota on December 2, 2020

usaid health innovation index
Global health is a priority for USAID as the Agency works to end extreme poverty and promote resilient, democratic societies. Our global health programs are focused around three strategic priorities:

  • Preventing child and maternal deaths;
  • Controlling the HIV/AIDS epidemic; and
  • Combating infectious diseases.

Achieving these priorities requires developing and funding promising innovations that lead to significant improvements. Innovations can serve as catalysts for different degrees of change: incremental, adjacent or transformative change.

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In general, 70-90% of global health innovation efforts focus on improving existing products, services, and practices, termed incremental or adjacent innovations. Only about 10% of innovation efforts focus on inventing something entirely new. Transformative innovations have the potential to address the health needs of previously unreached communities

USAID Global Health Innovation Index

The USAID Global Health Innovation Index is a tool intended to assess global health innovations and identify those with the greatest potential for global health impact –  both in the short and long term. The Index has two main goals:

  • Provide a versatile tool to evaluate a diverse range of health innovations at every stage of development to assess which ones are the most promising and should be considered for further support — for example, funding, technical assistance, and connections with partners;
  • Highlight some of the most promising near-term innovations to support greater adoption and incorporation in ongoing health programming.

Innovation Index Framework

USAID’s Global Health Innovation Index draws from USAID’s health innovation portfolio to offer a strategic approach by helping identify promising, ready-to-launch innovations using four criteria:

  1. Health impact: Does this innovation improve health outcomes relative to the status quo? Does it relate to an important driver of morbidity or mortality?
  2. Demand and sustainability: Are health workers and other stakeholders willing to use this innovation and able to do so affordably? Is there a sustainable way to pay for the innovation?
  3. Organizational capacity: Can this organization or their partners reliably produce and distribute this innovation at scale?
  4. Progress to scale: Has this innovation cleared regulatory and technology hurdles to scale? Has it proven ability to scale successfully?

We share this framework in hopes it can be useful to countries, other donors, and partners as well as to our own health teams.

Innovation Index Examples

Over the past decade, USAID has supported over 150 global health innovations through open innovation efforts. While some of these innovations are in the process of scaling, others are still in development— and some never made it to scale. The Index highlights nine global health innovations that are ready to scale:

  • Bempu Health Temp Watch: Preventing Hypothermia in Babies Under Five Pounds
  • Dimagi: Tech Tools for Health Workers
  • DripAssist: A Simple Tool for Safe IV Infusions
  • Gradian Health Systems: Anesthesia Technology That Doesn’t Require Electricity
  • Keheala: Behavioral Science-based Treatment Support Program
  • Living Goods: Performance-Driven Model for Delivering Low-Cost Care and Medicines
  • Muso and ProCCM: Proactive, Well-supported Community Health Systems
  • Premise: Real-Time Data for Health Workers and Policy Makers
  • World Mosquito Program: Using Wolbachia to Prevent Disease Transmission

The Index also outlines ways in which national governments, donors, investors, implementors and experts might consider supporting these innovations.

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks and is the Digital Health Director at IntraHealth International. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of IntraHealth International or other ICTWorks sponsors.
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