Investing in Innovation: Two Steps Closer to Quicker, More Affordable Ways to Save Lives

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, October 18, 2011
USAID Press Office
202-712-4320

Seattle, WA – The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced this week it will invest in two new projects, one that will reduce the cost and increase the availability of tools known to prevent post-partum bleeding--the leading cause of maternal death--and another that will help develop advanced technologies that are adapted for use in rural settings in the developing world.

Announcing the awards at PATH headquarters, USAID Administrator Raj Shah said, “Throughout history, some of the greatest advances in development have come from extending the reach of innovative breakthroughs to those who lacked access. Today, USAID is building on a history of partnership with the development and scientific community to help bring a new generation of innovations to scale.”

With a grant from USAID's Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) of less than $100,000, the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) will develop an effective, affordable balloon tamponade that has the potential to save the lives of women suffering from postpartum bleeding. Currently, one out of every four maternal deaths worldwide is caused by this preventable condition, making it the single most common cause of maternal mortality. Every four minutes a woman dies needlessly from this preventable condition. Balloon tamponades are devices that stop bleeding within 10-15 minutes, are non-surgical and have a success rate between 70 to 100 percent.

Existing versions of this life-saving balloon, however, are too expensive for widespread use in developing countries, costing between $77 and $312 per single-use. PATH's goal is to develop a simple design and low cost manufacturing process that will make this device available at less than $10 per balloon.

"I applaud USAID for this lifesaving investment in innovation," said U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). "Investing in global health improves lives across the world and prevents millions of needless deaths. Washington state has long been a leader in the discovery, development and delivery efforts and I'm proud to see PATH once again leading the charge in making a difference."

“Washington state is a center for innovation, and PATH proves that the way forward in global health development is with innovative and cost-effective solutions,” said U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA). “I applaud USAID for investing in PATH's innovative work improving maternal health worldwide and expanding access to life-saving technologies in rural areas.”

“PATH's creative designers understand global health from the developing world's perspective, and have a track record of designing culturally sensitive, life-saving products,” said Representative Jim McDermott (D WA-7). “USAID investment in these two new projects is money well spent in furthering its mission.”

Administrator Shah also announced the Cooperative Agreement, HealthTech V, for which USAID will commit roughly $3 million in its first year. PATH will lead the project which aims to identify, develop and introduce new health tools and technologies that can be used in rural, low-resource settings in the developing world where access to health facilities and electricity is not available.

“For more than three decades, PATH and USAID have partnered to innovate, introduce, and integrate affordable and appropriate health technologies for the world's poorest citizens,” said Dr. Christopher J. Elias, PATH's President and CEO. “PATH has been able to achieve much in those years, thanks to the ongoing support of the US government, especially through the USAID-funded Health Tech program.”

Innovation in development is a key piece of President Obama's Global Development Policy, as well as a pillar of USAID's reform agenda. USAID has a history of investing in game changing innovations for global health. As part of the Agency's increased commitment to cost-efficient innovations, USAID launched Development Innovation Ventures to encourage entrepreneurs, innovators, businesses, academics, NGOs and non-traditional players to submit proposals with the potential to substantially improve development outcomes rather than incremental changes.

Last updated: May 21, 2012

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