Thematic report: the global campaign for the health millennium development goals 2011: innovating for every woman, every child

Thematic report: the global campaign for the health millennium development goals 2011: innovating for every woman, every child

Innovation for women and children's health

Improving the health of women and children contributes extensively to economic development. This report describes business models that innovators have used with success, as well as case studies of some of the most powerful and ingenious innovations in women and children’s health (WCH).

The report categorises business models according to the direct beneficiaries of their interventions or products. Some interventions are aimed directly at households (e.g. SMS messages for expectant mothers). Others are targeted at government health systems, and a final set of business models are designed to serve private companies.

Some notable facts and findings demonstrated in the report are that:

  • new and stronger markets are the key to ensuring the sustainability of innovative interventions.
  • in this respect, finding innovative ways to lower prices, including by engaging the base of the pyramid, can lead to sustainable business models.
  • nonetheless, delivering interventions for women and children often requires a subsidy from the government or other funders.
  • the public sector can support the creation of demand by engendering a favourable environment for local entrepreneurs, and expanding projects whose potential to improve WCH is evident.

In terms of solving problems in the business plan, the document suggests the following: 

  • starting with the needs of providers of health services is one important way to ensure that a new intervention creates value.
  • once a business model is up and running as a start-up or pilot, evaluation becomes important for taking the next step.
  • to be truly comprehensive, the business plan may encompass one business model for reaching the pilot stage and another for scale.
  • non-governmental organisations involved in health can advocate for innovators, serving as bridges to major organisations in the public and private sectors.
  • coordination between innovators allows them to work together and avoid duplicating each other’s efforts.


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