Anyone who thinks they can design a more protective suit for healthcare workers dealing with infectious diseases is invited to participate in the Grand Challenge.
There is a movement in existence that aims to solve the world’s health problems through innovation and inspiration. And you can join it.
Grand Challenges, a collaborative effort by the governments of the United States and Canada and funded by both governments as well as by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations, offers grants through specific initiatives to solve problems that exist in the health care fields around the world.
The latest Grand Challenge is a hot-topic one: to invent a better personal protection suit to protect healthcare workers from diseases such as Ebola.
A U.S. agency has offered $5 million in a contest to find the best solution to a problem that is affecting the world right now. The new personal protection suit is part of the total initiative, described as seeking “new, practical and cost-effective solutions to improve Personal Protective Equipment and infection treatment and control that can be rapidly deployed to help health care workers provide better care and transform our ability to address Ebola.”
The problem with current PPE is that, especially in conditions like those prevalent in Africa, health workers get overly heated and have to spend time outside the current suits they wear. That disrupts care, and pushes all treatments back. In the hottest weather, healthcare providers can spend only 30 to 40 minutes in the suit before needing a break.
The way the Grand Challenges work is that anyone who wants is invited to participate through an open innovation platform online to exchange ideas. Anyone who has an idea that requires funding is invited to participate in a competition for funds, which require specific concepts and plans for implementation of the idea.
The Grand Challenges in the United States are funded and sponsored by U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), a government agency that works to end extreme poverty and enable societies to reach their full potential.
Other Grand Challenges include ones for the growth of influence of women, improved healthy birth rates and greater life expectancies, and an increase of citizen engagement in countries around the world.
So far, Grand Challenges have provided more than 1, 600 grants of up to $100,000 each. The idea is to foster innovation with the hopes that a large step can be taken in areas that need major improvements. “Part of what we try to do under this type of funding is not to incrementally advance the state of knowledge, but to take a risk on new ideas,’’ said Gates Foundation Grand Challenge program leader Steve Buchsbaum.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.