PMU-BIRAC currently works in the areas of Maternal and Child Health (MCH), nutrition, sanitation and hygiene, affordable healthcare, policy analysis, knowledge integration and dissemination, with projects across these disciplines that are funded by our partners. The partnership is also exploring new areas to collaborate in, such as funding clinical trials and in developing strategies to mitigate the effects of climate change.
A common thread among these programs and projects is that these focus on encouraging Indian innovation to solve the problems that our vast and diverse population faces. The belief behind this principle is that India will have the best understanding of our challenges and would be able to develop context-specific solutions which can then be applied in other countries facing similar challenges.
- Maternal and Child Health (MCH): the All Children Thriving (ACT) program under Grand Challenges India and the Healthy Birth, Growth and Development knowledge integration (HBGDki) platform are two programs that aim at improving MCH. ACT was launched, in part, to direct research efforts to address gaps in our knowledge of various factors that impact maternal and child health and to understand causal linkages between these. The overall goal of the program is to provide a basket of interventions that improve the lives of both mothers and their children. HBGDki seeks to improve MCH by providing a platform to share data and information to provide academics, quantitative experts and policy makers with the information they need to address complex and interrelated conditions in children that affect birth, growth and that could have a lasting impact on child development. This program intends to enable researchers access a pool of verified data to accurately identify patterns, gaps and interventions, from data and studies from around the world that could be used to address these outcomes.
- Nutrition: Grand Challenges India’s Achieving Healthy Growth through Agriculture and Nutrition program was begun with the aim to fund a portfolio of pilot projects that target the relationship between agriculture, nutrition, and health to reduce the high incidence of low birth weight and early stunting and wasting among Indian infants. The program also aims at social innovation by empowering women in their multiple family roles.
- Sanitation and hygiene: the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge under the DBT and the Gates Foundation funded Grand Challenges India program, aims to encourage innovation in the fundamental areas of sanitation and hygiene, which even today pose a challenge in India. This program encourages innovation in waste collection and management to provide modern solutions to address rural and urban sanitation.
- Affordable healthcare: the portfolio of projects under the Wellcome Trust’s Affordable Healthcare in India program all focus on directing research to develop and test a host of medical and healthcare interventions that are affordable and accessible to those that need it. The projects funded under this program span a range of topics from developing medical devices that improve the quality of life of patients and people, to funding basic laboratory research. PMU at BIRAC will also manage the Wellcome Trust’s Innovation awards in India, announced in early 2017.
- Knowledge Integration, Policy analysis and dissemination: Both the HBGDki program, discussed earlier and the Knowledge Integration and Translational Platform (KnIT) are aimed are collating currently available evidence from different sources and making it available to academics, quantitative experts and policymakers. The larger goals of these programs, though operationalized slightly differently, are to provide accurate evidence to; first, gain an accurate picture of the current state of these pressing issues, second, identify the gaps in our knowledge and direct research towards them and finally, make this validated evidence available to policymakers and researchers to design studies and implement policies.
- Encouraging Ideation: Grand Challenges Explorations- India is aimed at allowing anyone with an idea to apply for a fast-track grant to further develop it. Grantees receive an initial seed grant to develop their ideas. This program is based on the belief that ‘Great ideas come from everywhere’ and that making initial funding available to even to people who may not have enough evidence to back their idea, may be the start of something big that could address the challenges we face today.