The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced the opening of round six of its Grand Challenges Explorations, a $100 million grant initiative to encourage bold and unconventional global health solutions.

Grand Challenges Explorations offers researchers the chance to win grants of $100,000 to foster innovative projects with the potential to transform health in developing countries. The initiative focuses on areas where creative, unorthodox thinking is most urgently needed.

For this round, applicants are asked to focus their proposals on one of five topic areas: new approaches to cure HIV infection; next-generation sanitation technologies; low-cost cell phone-based applications for priority global health conditions; new technologies to support maternal and newborn health; and the poliovirus endgame: ways to accelerate, sustain, and monitor eradication.

The topic focusing on sanitation technologies highlights the integrated approach the foundation is taking toward health in developing countries. Improved sanitation is essential to reducing waterborne illnesses and has profound economic, educational, and social benefits.

The initiative uses a streamlined grantmaking process. Applications are two pages, and preliminary data about the proposed research is not required. All are encouraged to apply.

The foundation and an independent group of reviewers will select the most innovative proposals, and grants will be awarded within approximately four months from the proposal submission deadline.

Initial grants will be $100,000. Projects showing success will have the opportunity to receive additional funding of up to $1 million.
Grand Challenges Web site

Chase, the U.S. consumer and commercial banking business of JPMorgan Chase & Co., has announced the launch of its Chase Community Giving Summer 2010 program on Facebook. The program will award a total of more than $5 million to be shared among two hundred charities.

Chase Community Giving is a program that allows users to vote online for the local charities that matter most to them. By participating, users will help Chase direct corporate philanthropy dollars to eligible small and local organizations working in the focus areas of primary and secondary education, youth development, healthcare, housing, community development, the environment, combating hunger, arts and culture, human services, and animal welfare.

The first Chase Community Giving program, held earlier this year, was the most popular corporate philanthropy crowdsourcing campaign of its type. More than two million Facebook users became fans of the program and helped decide which of the more than 500,000 charities that participated should receive a share of $5 million. More than a hundred winners from thirty-one states were selected.

For the summer 2010 program, the number of charities eligible to receive awards has doubled and several new tools have been introduced. Charities will be able to edit their charity profiles and add meaningful media to help tell their stories in the form of videos and photos. In addition, badges, which users earn to indicate their commitment to their community, have been introduced. And a Gift Vote feature that lets users earn the right to give additional votes to a friend has been added.

To underscore the program’s focus on small and local organizations, 501(c)(3) public nonprofits with operating expenses of $1 million or less are eligible to receive funding. The top vote-receiving charities meeting the eligibility and other requirements of the program rules will receive the top grants. The eligible charity with the most votes will receive $250,000; the top four runners-up will receive $100,000 each; and the remaining eligible charities in the top two hundred will each receive $20,000. There will be one round of voting. Voting begins June 15 and ends July 12, 2010.

For more information and program requirements:

Recently, a major European NGO asked me to comment on the future of global health:
At a time when the Health Bill is hitting the headlines in the USA and election battle lines are being drawn over the NHS in the UK, access to health care is playing on the minds of people the world over. What is on your mind?

Here is my response:

The future of global health lies on prevention
By Kelly N Patterson

I spent three years working with a small nonprofit, community-based primary health care and rural development organization in very rural Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa. Back then, Hlabisa District was a grim setting with a 41.6% HIV prevalence rate with high incidences of TB, Malaria, and even a cholera epidemic, sprinkled with chronic diseases associated with developing countries like diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. Reasons for the advanced stage of the HIV epidemic in this district include: high level of labor migration; limited access to treatment for sexually transmitted diseases; low status of women; poor nutrition; and general poverty (80% unemployment at the time.)

This particular district had been historically under-funded due to politics and lacked the public services to cope with the growing demand for care. Essentially, this left the district with a disabling population of elderly women, living on welfare, and lots of children; the majority of the adult population either dead, or too sick to work.

Grandmothers could not afford to support themselves and orphaned children and ill adults on their pensions, so the older children would drop out of school. Older boys would resort to both petty and violent crime to obtain money or food for their homesteads. Older girls would often resort to prostitution for income and without education and access to birth control methods, more children. Thus the cycle of poverty, crime and disease continue. This is the current state of the world.

Therefore, to break this cycle, Global Health policies should focus on prevention, not the symptoms, of chronic, communicable and terminal diseases by addressing the seeds of all health issues: public infrastructure, economics and gender issues.

Public Infrastructure: This is everything from water and sanitation to roads and education. Education is critical to preventing most diseases (from nutrition and personal hygiene to reproductive health education); clean drinking water would significantly reduce water-borne diseases; easy access to public health clinics and pharmacies; adequate housing and access to mosquito netting; and proper sanitation systems are all necessary to preventing 80% of chronic and communicable diseases worldwide.

Economics: Affordable, easily accessible healthcare (from prevention to treatment to palliative care; especially, affordable equal access to pharmaceutical drugs); rural development with emphasis on good nutrition, personal hygiene and clean water systems; job development; investment in vaccines, micro-biocides and directly observed treatments (such as the TB DOTS program); local, national and international incentives for quality, multi-sectoral health policies, designed by nations, for their own people’s public health.

Gender issues: Over half of the world’s population is female and unless women have access to the same level of education, pay, rights, healthcare treatment, and protection as men, women will never have the power to improve their own health and the health of their children. This means over half of the world has no control over their own health.

In conclusion, global health care issues will never diminish unless people address the conditions which nurture most chronic, communicable and terminal diseases. Therefore, a holistic, multi-sectoral approach to global health policies is needed. The seeds of all global health issues, whether it be in the States or Sudan, come down to public infrastructure, economics and gender issues.

My ever-so humble opinion, Kelly N Patterson

Request For Proposal

Posted on October 4, 2009
Deadline: November 25, 2009

Ashoka’s Changemakers Announces New Collaborative Competition on Nutrition

The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition and Ashoka’s Changemakers have announced “Improved Nutrition: Solutions through Innovation,” a new online competition to identify innovative solutions for communities currently lacking access to adequate nutrition or unaware of its benefits.

The competition is open to all types of individuals and organizations (charitable organizations, private companies, or public entities) from all countries. The program will consider all entries that demonstrate system-changing solutions that expand and improve nutrition to undernourished populations, and that indicate growth beyond the stage of idea, concept, or research. At a minimum, entries should be at the demonstration stage and indicate success. Entries must be submitted in English, Spanish, French, or Portuguese.

Online competition submissions will be accepted until November 25, 2009. At any time before the deadline, competition participants are encouraged to revise their entries based on questions and insights that they receive in the Changemakers discussion. Participation in the discussion enhances an entrant’s prospects in the competition and provides the community and the judges an opportunity to understand the entrant’s project more completely.

A panel of judges will select the competition finalists, and the Changemakers community will then vote online to select the three award-winners from the field of finalists. The three finalists will each receive a cash prize of $5,000. Five entrants will also be chosen by GAIN to attend, all-expenses paid, the GAIN Business Alliance Global Forum in May 2010, where they will have the opportunity to present their solutions to investors.

Visit the Changemakers Web site for complete competition information.

Link to Complete RFP

Primary Subject: Health
Geographic Funding Area: National