Mali Health is happy to announce that we have won a Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Our proposal, Using Participatory Quality Improvement Methods to Improve Vaccine Timeliness, will bring together maternal care providers, including health center staff, community health workers (ASC) and midwives (matrones), to develop local solutions for improving childhood immunization completion in the Sikasso region, in southern Mali.
Since 2014, we have been developing a participatory, team-based approach that adapts traditional continuous quality improvement tools for use in the community health system. We will bring those participatory quality improvement (QI) methods, created in collaboration with health center partners in peri-urban Bamako, to the Sikasso region in southern Mali, to improve vaccine delivery.
In Bamako, our participatory, community-based QI strategies led to significant improvement in timely vaccine completion. For example, completion of BCG vaccine delivery from 57% to 92% and retention between doses of MMR rose from 38% to 83%. With average completion of childhood vaccines hovering around 20.2% in Mali, there is room for significant improvement, in both rural and urban regions.
Our team is particularly excited about this opportunity because it allows us to continue working with partners in the Sikasso region, where we have worked to implement the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) post-Ebola Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA). During that work, we observed significant gaps in the health system and integrated some of our quality improvement and governance strategies into the GHSA project. Our participation in that project ended in October 2017, when funding was significantly delayed during the budgeting process. We are glad to renew our relationships with communities and the health system in the Sikasso region, and to build new ones.
Through their GCE program, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation “supports innovative thinkers worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges.” Our project is one of 35 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 20 grants awarded by the Foundation, out of over 1,500 applications received. This is our second GCE grant; the first, a part of Round 12, helped us to develop our QI approach.
Grand Challenges Explorations is a US$100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Launched in 2008, over 1365 projects in more than 65 countries have received Grand Challenges Explorations grants. The grant program is open to anyone from any discipline and from any organization. The initiative uses an agile, accelerated grant-making process with short two-page online applications and no preliminary data required. Initial grants of US$100,000 are awarded two times a year. Successful projects can receive a follow-on grant of up to US$1 million.