Guest Articles

April 5

Lane Goodman

Four Trends in Global Health Care for the Poor

In 2015, health programs profiled on the Center for Health Market Innovations (CHMI) database were hard at work bringing high-quality primary care to patients in hard-to-reach areas, replicating successful models in new geographies and sharing lessons learned to strengthen understandings of what works.

Since 2010, CHMI has worked to provide information on innovative, pro-poor approaches to health care in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Our annual review of our program database, now featuring more than 1,500 programs working in 130 countries, reveals new research and innovative solutions emerging from the private sector. The following trends emerged from this year’s report, “Highlights: Findings from 2015”:


  1. Greater public investment in adolescent carE

The world’s population in 2014 was composed of nearly 1.8 billion young people, 90 percent of whom were in LMICs. The post-2015 development agenda has recognized the importance of addressing adolescent health, as emphasized by the United Nations’ Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, 2016-2030.

CHMI’s database features 298 programs that are already making a difference in bringing health services to adolescents and addressing the main causes of mortality and morbidity among adolescents.

The Youth Truck in Uganda, for example, is a mobile outreach service that informs youth in rural areas and urban slums about sexual and reproductive health and rights, including HIV/AIDS prevention through film screenings, youth clubs, games and other activities. This project seeks to provide sexual and reproductive health information and services to all youth, including youth with no formal education.

I-Care, a program based in Kenya, seeks to empower girls by providing them with high-quality, affordable and reusable sanitary towels to improve school attendance and self-esteem. Similarly, BanaPads and ZanaAfrica in Kenya sell eco-friendly sanitary pads through saleswomen who go door-to-door providing the products and delivering messages on menstrual hygiene and family planning.


  1. More privately led health programs are using innovations to respond to disasters

In recent years, multiple global health emergencies have emphasized the need for resilient health systems built to resist shocks. In 2015, CHMI analyzed the 30-plus programs in the database that focus on disaster response. A majority of these programs use technology to provide health services following disasters. Innovations in these programs include telemedicine, SMS chat applications and mobile platforms.

One such technology-based program responding to disease outbreaks is Reliefwatch, a cloud-based medical supply and disease-tracking platform. The software uses automated voice calls and simple mobile phones to help reduce shortages of essential medicines in Honduras, Mozambique, Nicaragua and Panama. The system also provides real-time data to reduce stock-outs and drug expiration, and can help track diseases to prevent an outbreak from turning into an epidemic.


  1. Programs are coming together to tackle common challenges and co-create solutions

Over the past five years, CHMI has helped programs work together and share strategies for improving their models. Our growing portfolio of Learning and Adaptation activities connects program managers around the world, and encourages continued iteration and improvement of health innovations. Examples of common operation challenges recently shared by CHMI-profiled programs include:

How do you design your services to satisfy your market? PurpleSource Healthcare consulted with peer organizations to determine the best practices for an in-depth market assessment for its health facilities in Lagos.

How do you recruit, train and motivate your staff? iKure Techsoft and Amader Hospital partnered to use a new IT platform to expand existing services and train new community health workers in West Bengal, where they are now conducting continuous monitoring of maternal, newborn and child health indicators for 90 rural villages.

How do you adapt high-quality clinical standards to a low-resource setting? salaUno, an affordable eye care service provider in Mexico, was modeled after Aravind Eye Care System in India. Through a CHMI-facilitated partnership, Aravind clinical staff provided recommendations for salaUno on pre-surgery protocols and criteria that have reduced their surgical response time to three days, and have increased uptake of services.


  1. Health organizations are reporting continued success

More than 350 programs have reported results since CHMI launched the Reported Results initiative to collect impact data from innovators in health. In measuring affordability, LifeCircle Senior Services reported that their services were offered at approximately 30 percent lower costs than market rate in 2015. They also report that by partnering with donors, they have been able to offer services to poor patients for free. Among programs reporting on availability, Nayana Advanced Eye Treatment Units is a strong example of programs scaling up. Over the past year, the organization has increased the number of centers offering advanced eye care for patients in rural areas who were previously unable to seek care.

Read “Highlights: Findings from 2015” for a window into the CHMI database and explore how programs are working to improve access to quality health care for the poor.


Lane Goodman


Health Care, Social Enterprise
healthcare technology, social enterprise