Promoting effective community based solutions for maternal and child wellbeing – The Social Innovation in Health Initiative (SIHI)


By Phyllis Awor

Leveraging community resources for health can contribute to improving health outcomes in Uganda. Communities have an innate capacity to innovate and find practical solutions to social problems. If this capacity is well supported, lasting and transformative solutions can be obtained for intractable health and social problems. This is the goal of the Social Innovation in Health Initiative (SIHI), a global network of individuals, organizations and institutions committed to advocacy and funding for community based solutions that improve the lives of people in low and middle income countries. The SIHI partners have put out a new nomination call for local solutions improving health in 3 countries: Uganda, Malawi and the Philippines (May – July 2017).

The objective of the call for solutions in Uganda is to identify effective and affordable local solutions that are improving the lives of women and children. These solutions include those that: address the leading causes of death in women and children; improve the health and wellbeing of mothers and babies; and empower women to have thriving families. The call for solutions in Uganda concluded on 30th June 2017, and about 30 innovative and impactful solutions were submitted for further review.

In May and June 2017, we held various seminars at Makerere University and at the Ministry of Health with researchers, policy makers, implementers, innovators and students. These stakeholders had various concerns. The Ministry of Health was interested in focusing on community based solutions which are affordable, impactful and scalable. Further, the researchers, innovators and policy makers were all interested in “understanding how to move beyond small-scale innovative projects, to country-wide roll out of these community based solutions”. They emphasized that this is the area where more research and support is necessary.




Students and staff of Makerere University school of Public Health attending the seminar





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Seminar participants at the Ministry of Health




We are now moving into the next steps of this exciting journey. These include selection of high impact solutions by an expert panel of judges, and case study research. The expert panel will review the nominations and select effective and innovative solutions which have the potential to be replicated even beyond Uganda. This panel consists of policy makers, researchers, health implementers, civil society, innovators, and affected families. In addition, we will conduct case study research to understand the models that underpin the solutions; how the community based solutions are transforming the lives of Ugandans; the transferable attributes of the various solutions; and the ingredients necessary for scale up, in order to provide comprehensive guidance to the Ministry of Health.

Selected innovations will: be recognized by national and global health policy makers; have a case study published on the solution; be featured in a WHO/TDR film on social innovation in Uganda; receive technical advice for solution development or monitoring and evaluation; meet other social innovators in Uganda; and join the Makerere-Social Innovation in Health Hub.

Join us on this exciting journey as we select impactful innovations; visit the selected innovations; conduct case study research; and document their successes and challenges. Follow us at:



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