The what, why and how of health and development

Bill Gates awards Bangladeshi immunisation doctor with first Innovation Award

The first ever Gates Vaccine Innovation Award has been awarded to a doctor in Bangladesh after the huge success of his immunisation programme, Bill Gates announced in his annual letter today.

Dr. Asm Amjad Hossain, a district immunisation medical officer, raised immunisation rates in two districts from 67 and 60 percent in 2009 to 85 and 79 percent in 2010. The incredible improvements were a result of Dr. Hossain introducing a process of registering pregnant women with their expected delivery day, location, and phone number so vaccinators knew when and where children were born and could contact their mothers.

He also provided annual schedules for vaccine sessions and made vaccinators put their phone numbers on children’s immunization cards so parents could easily get in touch with a health worker.

Bill Gates, who founded the Gates Foundation with his wife Melinda in the late nineties, said that although these may seem like small innovations, they show how looking at old problems in new ways can make a profound difference.

“Improvements like these are spreading to other locations because of the commitment and creativity of Dr. Hossain and many others like him,” he wrote in his 2012 annual letter.

“Delivering lifesaving vaccines takes the dedication of many well-known players like GAVI, the World Health Organization, and UNICEF; government officials; and perhaps most importantly hundreds of thousands of heroes on the frontline like Dr. Hossain.”

The letter, which called for innovators to deliver solutions to people in need, covered a huge amount of global health, agriculture and education issues that have been central to the Foundation’s work over the years.

Read the full letter here


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