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Stimulating innovations

Through the stimulating innovations theme, FHS is testing new models of service delivery with government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) interested in improving the quality, coverage and affordability of health services to disadvantaged populations.

Recent FHS publications on 'stimulating innovations'


The objective of this brief is to introduce the Photovoice method, highlight how it helped capture the voices of mothers in the Sundarbans, and demonstrate how the method can bridge the gap between communities and local decision-makers. 

Husain, L (2016) Looking for ‘New Ideas That Work’: county innovation in China’s health system reforms—the case of the New Cooperative Medical Scheme, Journal of Contemporary China, Volume 25, Issue 99, pages 438-452, DOI: 10.1080/10670564.2015.1104911

The article presents a case study of a low tech and ‘second best’ reimbursement mechanism developed sub-nationally under the New Cooperative Medical Scheme, China’s rural health insurance framework, and its spread and incorporation into national policy. It argues for the importance of local government development of ‘appropriate’ policy mechanisms (jizhi) as underpinning central reforms and system adaptation.

Since the beginning of reforms in the late 1970s, China has developed rapidly, transforming itself into a middle-income country, raising hundreds of millions out of poverty and, latterly, developing broad-based social protection systems. The country’s approach to reform has been unorthodox, leading many to talk of a specific Chinese model of development. This paper analyses the role of innovation (chuangxin) and experimentation in the Chinese government repertoire and their contribution to management of change during the rapid, complex and interconnected reforms that China is undergoing. 

Waldman, L. and Stevens, M. (2015) Sexual and reproductive health and rights and mHealth in policy and practice in South Africa, Reproductive Health Matters, Vol 23, Issue 45, PP 93 - 102, doi:10.1016/j.rhm.2015.06.009

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) offers enormous opportunity and innovation to improve public health and health systems.This paper explores the intersections between mHealth and sexual and reproductive health and rights in both policy and practice. It is a qualitative study, informed by policy review and key informant interviews. Three case studies provide evidence of what is happening on the ground in relation to ICTs and reproductive health and rights.

The health system of Bangladesh is haunted by challenges of accessibility and affordability. Despite impressive gains in many health indicators, recent evidence has raised concerns regarding the utilization, quality and equity of healthcare. In the context of new and unfamiliar public health challenges including high population density and rapid urbanization, eHealth and mHealth are being promoted as a route to cost-effective, equitable and quality healthcare in Bangladesh. The aim of this paper is to highlight such initiatives and understand their true potential.

There is growing enthusiasm amongst analysts of global health for the possibilities opened up by the rapid spread of mobile phone coverage. This includes substantially increasing access to health-related information and advice and to expert medical consultations.This report presents a snapshot of how information and communication technologies (ICTs) are influencing health system development in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has a serious shortage of physicians, paramedics, nurses, and midwives. The available qualified care providers are centred in urban areas, resulting in an inequitable access of the rural and disadvantaged sections of the population to healthcare. Under these circumstances, the use of mHealth meaning provision of healthcare services through mobile devices provides a new opportunity to ensure access to quality healthcare services for the population in general, and for people from poorer sections and hard-to-reach areas in particular. There are currently around 20 mHealth service initiatives in the country which are mostly telephone hotlines for consulting physicians and/or obtaining healthcare information. Effectiveness of these services depends on the evidence-informed development of appropriate programmes designed around people’s perceptions of mHealth and user feedback. To that end, FHS Bangladesh partner, ICDDR,B recently conducted a survey on mHealth in Chakaria, a rural area in the southeast coastal area of Bangladesh. This brief presents the findings from this survey.

A post-Millennium Development Goals agenda for health in Bangladesh should be defined to encourage a second generation of health-system innovations under the clarion call of universal health coverage. This agenda should draw on the experience of the first generation of innovations that underlie the country's impressive health achievements and creatively address future health challenges.
Village doctors are the dominant health care providers in rural areas of Bangladesh. icddr,b has previously tested interventions to improve the quality of their services – especially training on acceptable practice and the creation of a franchise called ShasthyaSena (health soldier). But training alone met with limited success. To improve the quality of these services, icddr,b has been testing an mHealth intervention that linked ShasthyaSenas to qualified physicians through a call centre. This brief documents the successes and challenges faced during the first year of implementation of the mHealth intervention.
In assessing the value of different approaches to real-time monitoring for the most vulnerable, an initial requirement is to set out a conceptual framework that provides at least some degree of clarity as to what precisely is meant by ‘real time’, ‘monitoring’ and ‘vulnerable’ – all terms that can be highly context-specific. That is the first task addressed here. The second is to consider potential sources of data that might be used to undertake real-time monitoring and assess their advantages and disadvantages for the present purpose. Four general approaches are considered – community-based participatory monitoring, sentinel sites, routine data systems and rapid surveys – and selected examples from the literature are given to illustrate the potential use and limitations of their applications.