The Power of “Commitment, Relentless Creative Thinking and Bravery” to Improve Health

By Chrysula Winegar

February 7, 2018

By removing the barriers to cultivating great ideas, we can achieve GenH – the healthiest generation.

At the center of solving the world’s biggest problems are individuals who are curious and passionate. Last month at the GenH Challenge in San Francisco, I met innovators, health workers, investors, humanitarians, corporate leaders, writers, and people with big hearts and creative ideas. Hosted by Johnson & Johnson, the GenH Challenge is a social venture competition where every day innovators can design solutions to pressing health challenges. It invites entrepreneurs and innovators to help advance the healthiest generation in human history—think a “shark-tank” for social good. The GenH Challenge showcased six ideas that can truly transform the health and wellbeing of  mothers and families everywhere.

323 Big Ideas

Over several months, the GenH Challenge received 323 submissions from over 1,000 registrants in 54 countries. I was honored to be an early round judge–and I cannot tell you how hard it was to choose between these inspiring solutions. . From improving environmental health to improving access to essential surgery, fighting global disease challenges, strengthening the world’s health workforce, and more. These  big ideas showcased the potential for solving intractable problems with ingenuity and investment.

What struck me most about the GenH Challenge was that it encouraged solutions from the frontlines of health.  The backbone of family health – at every income level and in every circumstance – is the frontline health worker you meet, whether a nurse in the U.S. or a midwife in Guatemala. Health workers understand the most critical challenges their patients face. They know what works. Their voices must be heard. And, the GenH Challenge provided that platform.

Every day ideas can change the trajectory of health

I asked Johnson & Johnson’s Joy Marini to tell me about her experience as part of the GenH Challenge. Joy mentored the winning team.

“Ultimately, we hope that the GenH Challenge inspires people who may have never imagined themselves as innovators, to have the confidence to nurture their new ideas. The complexity of today’s health challenges requires new solutions. By removing the barriers to cultivating great ideas, we can achieve GenH – the healthiest generation. As a coach, I learned that it takes more than a good idea to develop a sustainable health solution. It takes commitment, relentless creative thinking and bravery. The GenH Challenge provides support for these entrepreneurs to continue evolving their ideas.”

 Meet the finalists

The 6 finalists showcased these inspiring innovations:  

  • A specialized baby supply kit that provides key items a mother needs to help her child thrive in the first year of life (Barakat Bundle)
  • A child nutritional supplement that also delivers low cost medicines to treat children with pneumonia (NutMox, PATH)
  • Training nonsurgical physicians to repair hernias in Ghana (Ghana Hernia Society)
  • Novel point-of-care digital health records in Rwanda (The Ihangane Project)
  • Voice-activated instructional support for caregivers when a mother bleeds heavily post-childbirth (Virtual Mentor)
  • A digital necklace that streamlines data collection to improve decisions for health workers in India (Khushi Baby).

 And the winner is…

GenH Challenge winner Khushi Baby integrated mobile health, wearable technology and cloud computing to bridge the information gaps for facing India’s health care system. Without reliable records, it’s tough for health workers to make the best diagnostic decisions for patients. The Khushi Baby necklace is worn by babies and works with an app for health workers to update and sync health records at any time.  With Johnson & Johnson’s $250,000 grant, the Khushi Baby team can make significant leaps forward to get these necklaces into the hands of mothers and health workers who need them. Runners up Barakat Bundle received $150,000 for their innovation, with the remaining four finalists receiving $50,000 for their projects. Each group will continue to have training and support for their work. 

The healthiest generation possible

While there were only six finalists, the thousands of change makers who submitted their ideas are helping to move the world on a path to better health. Their innovative ideas show that “commitment, relentless creative thinking and bravery” are the catalysts for a better and healthier world.

Take Action Challenge

Share this story on the GenH Challenge and these six amazing solutions for mothers and families! Take a few minutes to click through each website of the finalists to learn more about their work. And follow Johnson & Johnson’s global health work around the world on Twitter at @JNJglobalhealth.

 

All images courtesy of Johnson & Johnson GenH Challenge

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