Innovation Working Group (IWG)

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Tore Godal , Special Adviser to the Prime Minister of Norway on Global Health
Scott Ratzan, Vice President, Global Health, Government Affairs & Policy, Johnson & Johnson

Project manager

Frederik Kristensen, Consultant, Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD)

Norway and Johnson & Johnson lead the Innovation Working Group (IWG) that is exploring innovations towards improving mother and child health.

Tapping the potential of innovation

We know that progress is possible. Some of the poorest countries are now making significant reductions in maternal and neonatal mortality. Country-led innovations can achieve further reductions, enabling health services to produce better outcomes at the same cost. These range from financial incentives to promote performance and results, to innovative use of mobile phones and other communication tools. Mobile phones are an example of how innovation creates unprecedented potential for scale-up. There are more than 5 billion mobile phones in the world. Two out of three mobile users live in the developing world. The UN estimates that half of all residents in remote areas of the world will have mobile phones by 2012. More than 100 countries are now exploring the use of mobile phones for health purposes, such as referring people to their nearest health-care facility, and advancing health literacy by educating families and service providers.

Public-private partnerships

Public-private partnerships represent a potential for the private sector to innovate, develop new businesses, risk-sharing, improve the quality of services and accelerate access to advanced technologies. Innovation also applies to leadership. In several places, dynamic national leadership at the cabinet level, exercised through parliament, is holding local governments accountable for providing reliable information and improving the performance of local health systems. This bold leadership has resulted in rapid development of health systems, often through innovative programs to train and retain new health workers.

Because of the vast array of innovations being explored as pilots, there is an urgent need to evaluate different models so that we can learn what works and what has most potential for being integrated into countries’ health systems. To encourage the scale-up of the best models in support of the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, all partners must be involved: Governments, policy-makers, civil society, community organizations, global and regional institutions, donors, UN agencies, the private sector and research institutions.

Working Group - Updated Charter and 2011 Work plan

The Innovation Group developed a report last year, and then received an updated Charter and developed a Work plan for 2011 to deliver on the above challenges. These documents can be found as background documents on the adjacent links.