The Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India along with Grand Challenges Canada, funded by the Government of Canada, will partner an investment of $ 2.5 million in health innovations in India. The innovations will be focusing on maternal, new born and child health and Visceral Leishmaniasis Elimination.
While maternal, newborn and child health is a major challenge for the Government of India and Canada’s flagship development priority, India is one of the six countries that bear 90% of the global burden of Visceral Leishmaniasis.
This was stated in the Joint statement issued by the two sides on the occasion of meetings of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi with the Canadian Prime Minister Shri Stephan Harper
Welcoming the collaboration between Department of Biotechnology of his Ministry and Canada, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Science & Technology & Earth Sciences said ‘’Developing affordable innovations to mitigate disease burden is a major challenge for India. Partnering Canada allows us to tap into our combined capacity and strength to find solutions for disease control and improved maternal and child care”.
The Minister of State for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Sh Y.S. Chowdary added “Innovation-driven technology development underpins sustainable and inclusive growth. To partner with Canada, a major hub for innovation and start-ups, provides the right stimulus at the right time for India’s drive for equitable growth”.
“India has historic and close links with Canada in Science and Technology. Disease and poor nutrition affect early growth including the development of brains. Using our shared strengths to collaborate and address these problems will directly help the lives of many and also demonstrate ways of scaling such interventions to populations which need it most”, said Dr. K. VijayRaghavan, Secretary Department of Biotechnology, Government of India.
“Through Grand Challenges Canada, the Canadian government is supporting innovative solutions to global health problems for those who need it the most. These new bold ideas and renewed support for existing and scale-up innovations will make a difference in the lives of many people, including children,” said Dr. Peter A. Singer, Chief Executive Officer of Grand Challenges Canada.
GCC has also partnered with the National Council of Indo-Canadians to ensure engagement of Indian diaspora in Canada in the Grand Challenges partnership.
“The longstanding relationship between India and Canada has grown to include collaboration in many fields, including global health. I am proud to see that this partnership will improve the lives of so many children in India, equipping a whole generation for a better future,” said Sudhir Handa, Chair, National Council of Indo Canadians.
Saving Brains is an initiative that promotes the fulfillment of human capital potential by focusing on interventions that nurture healthy child and brain development in the first 1,000 days of life so children can reach their full potential.
DBT and GCC will be supporting two innovative approaches to promote healthy brain development –pairing private resources with the Anganwadi programme and kangaroo mother care for low birth weight infants in communities.
Two ‘proof of concept’ projects will be jointly funded by DBT and GCC.
One of them is a community-based model of Kangaroo Mother Care for improving child survival and brain development in Low Birth Weight newborns (Society for Applied Studies (http://www.urlgoeshere.ca)
The other is implementation of the International Guide for Monitoring Child Development (IGMCD), an individualised technology-aided approach to promoting early childhood development in a low income setting in Mumbai (Ummeed Child Development Center (http://www.urlgoeshere.ca).
Elimination of Visceral Leishmaniasis (Kala Azar) in Bihar
DBT and GCC have agreed to accelerate efforts to eliminate Visceral Leishmaniasis (VL, Kala Azar) in Bihar, India. In 2011, Grand Challenges Canada supported a novel project combining Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) to detect and refer individuals with VL, a point-of-care diagnostic and a single-dose therapy at primary health centres. The approach helped save the lives of 110 people and contributed to a major reduction of VL in four Primary Health Centres (PHCs).
They will jointly invest $465,000 in ASHA training in 25 highly endemic PHCs and case tracking in five PHCs.