Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Indian Government announce $500,000 seed grants
Were you aware that in the world that we inhabit over 6 million children under the age of five die each year, and approximately 165 million (26%) of the world’s children have stunted growth jeopardizing subsequent physical as well as cognitive development. It is true that mortality among children still remains a major concern across the world.
If we look at India, it has the highest prevalence of stunting in the world, and represents 38% of the global burden of chronic under nutrition. The root causes of unhealthy birth, growth, and development still remain unknown however, current evidence suggests that all of these factors such as malnutrition, infectious disease, social or other factors are interwoven, and that addressing them one at a time can solve only a small fraction of the problem.
To address this issue the “All Children Thriving” initiative was launched in October 2014. This is the third initiative launched by Grand Challenges after two successful initiatives in 2013: ‘Achieving Healthy Growth through Agriculture and Nutrition’ and ‘Reinvent the Toilet Challenge’.
The Grand Challenges India initiative, launched on 20th March 2013 is a collaborative effort by Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India; Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), a Government of India enterprise and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). Its focus is on innovations in the field of health such as innovation in drugs, vaccines, agricultural products and interventions related to malnutrition, family and child health. This innovation within the country gives an opportunity to link to a network of innovators, all working to solve pressing global health challenges.
“This Grand Challenges India Initiative seeks to develop multi sectoral integrated intervention packages to reduce the burden of foetal growth impairment & preterm birth in India and other developing countries” said Dr. Sunita Singh, Program Director, Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council.
The ultimate goal of “All Children Thriving” is to determine what package of interventions should be delivered to which group of individuals, at what point in their life cycle to reduce the burden of foetal growth impairment and preterm birth, stunted postnatal growth, and impaired cognitive development.
Undertaken in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the program aims to ensure that all children not only survive but are also are on a trajectory to live healthy and productive lives.
As part of this initiative a workshop on the Multi Sectorial Interventions in the context of Maternal and Child Health: All Children Thriving was organised in Hyderabad on 2Oth November. Representatives of DBT, BIRAC, BMFG and USAID came together for the workshop. The workshop built awareness about Grand Challenges grant opportunities and also facilitated dialogue among the researchers, innovators and funders.
“We are excited to build on our partnership with the Department of Biotechnology and continue to harness the power of Indian innovation in service of the country’s most vulnerable communities. At the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation we believe that all lives have equal value and we hope that this Grand Challenge will help ensure that all India’s children, no matter where they are born, have the opportunity to survive, thrive and fulfil their potential ”said Dr. Steven Buchsbaum Deputy Director, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Dr. M. K. Bhan, Former Secretary, DBT, Government of India announced this next phase of Grand Challenges India. ‘All Children Thriving’ funds for seed grants are USD $500,000 for up to two years and full grants are USD $2.5 million for up to four years and focus on innovative tools and approaches that will drastically alter the public health landscape.