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Wearables and Technologies to Promote Health Behavioral Changes

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Background

Much of public health is reliant on effective health systems and the efficient delivery of health services. However, with increasing costs of healthcare and the burden of diseases shifting to non-communicable diseases, it is becoming more and more important to focus on preventative healthcare which involves significant behavior change in both affected and at-risk populations.

The Challenge

Changing behavior is hard, more so health related behavior. Lack of awareness, motivation and unwillingness to change an old behavior all play a role in making health behavior change a challenge. However, there are immense gains to be made in this area, not just in non-communicable diseases, but also in the space of infectious diseases as well as in maternal and child health.

  1. Reduced compliance with completing antibiotics courses: incomplete antibiotic courses are a major source of the developing antimicrobial resistance in pathogens. Incomplete courses of antibiotics expose pathogens to sub-optimal levels of antibiotics which do not kill them, and instead promote the proliferation of resistant strains of pathogens.
  2. Reduced compliance to medication or treatment for chronic diseases and adherence to preventative behaviors in high-risk patients: compliance with medication for chronic non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and heart disease remains a challenge even with advances in diagnosing and treating these conditions.

With high-risk patients for chronic conditions, preventative health behaviors become very important to mitigate the progress of the diseases. However, compliance with even these remains a challenge.

  1. Promotion of healthy behaviors among mothers for themselves and their children: awareness and knowledge play a particularly important role in a mothers’ care for her children, especially for newborns and infants. However, inculcating safe and healthy behaviors among new mothers for themselves and their children is often harder to negotiate than other types of health behavior changes, since it comes up against cultural beliefs and practical challenges as well. For example, some barriers to KMC practice include women’s discomfort in performing typical household tasks while their fragile newborn is on their chest, limited knowledge of the benefits of KMC, and lack of social support.

What we are looking for

Grand Challenges Explorations- India seeks proposals that address challenges in effective health supply chains that are daring in premise, and clearly different from the approaches currently under investigation or employed. The solutions submitted to this topic could focus on an integrated health supply chain, or they could focus specifically on immunization and/or family planning supply chains and their respective programmatic goals. They must have the potential to be scaled up or reproduced in multiple settings. We encourage solutions that translate leading and best practices and solutions developed by the private sector (e.g. outside of health), as well as academic research and findings, to LMICs in a way that support their public health goals.

Proposals must provide a strong rationale for the work proposed, demonstrating a clear understanding of country context and needs, and present a defined hypothesis and associated plan for how the idea would be tested or validated. Proposed ideas must ultimately be translatable to practical interventions accessible in resource-limited settings

A few examples of work that would be considered for funding

  1. Technologies that increase compliance with antibiotic courses- We are looking for technologies or other solutions that would increase compliance with completion of courses, other than SMS reminders, that would reduce wastage. Additional components of the technology being able to collect data on actual consumption of antibiotics could also be considered.
  2. Compliance to medication or treatment for chronic diseases and adherence to preventative behaviors in high-risk patients: compliance with medication as well as preventative behaviors for chronic non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and heart disease remains a challenge even with advances in diagnosing and treating these conditions.
  3. Technologies that can improve uptake of healthy behaviors among mothers for themselves and their children:
  • Tracker of temperature and position that can stimulate KMC practice
  • Sensor for newborn that measures heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature, apnea or more
  • Sensor on the infant that can alert the mother to infant sleep/wake state, hunger and activity
  • Wearable on an expectant mother that could measure and transmit data on blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, activity, sleep state and fetal heart rate
  • Patch that can measure metabolites in an infant transcutaneously including glucose, bilirubin, Na and Hb.
  • Wearable that will reinforce positive behavior in the mother in breastfeeding, language interaction, soothing behaviors
  • Sensor to facilitate handwashing or other infection prevention measures

These new wearables and technologies should:

  • Have a clear theory of change for catalyzing healthy behaviors
  • Facilitate data collection for health research with consideration of data privacy mechanisms
  • Be feasible within limited infrastructure environments (e.g. electricity, internet access, etc.)
  • Consider projections and trends in technology in low-income settings (e.g. level of mobile phone technology)
  • Consider the societal norms of target communities in low income countries
  • Consider the comfort and safety of the proposed user
  • Consider the sustainability and maintenance of the technology
  • Be easy to use

We will not consider funding for:

  1. Proposals that do not directly address at least one of the challenges described above;
  2. Proposals without a clearly-articulated objective or an objective that cannot be easily assessed for quality, efficiency and/or effectiveness;
  1. Preclinical or clinical research: proposals for vaccine or medicine administration or delivery devices; proposals aimed at improving vaccine or medicine stability or formulation; proposals involving animal models or human subjects in clinical trials;
  1. Approaches that represent incremental improvements to current activities or conventional solutions, or iterative solutions;
  1. Approaches that are not applicable in low- and middle-income country settings;
  2. Approaches for which proof of concept cannot be demonstrated within the funding levels described for this call;
  1. New solutions that do not have the potential to be used widely or scaled-up, or are only relevant to a single geography or context and not scalable to the entire country.
  1. Proposals that do not describe or outline the innovation’s down-stream effects on the supply system or consider innovation in the context of the broader health and routine immunization system or local landscape capacity;
  1. Proposals based upon, or that rely solely on, an SMS platform for sending reminders or communication; and
  1. Proposals that can only be applied to individual manufacturers’ products or specific product improvement initiatives.

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