Saving lives at birth – A Grand Challenge for Development is welcoming votes from the people to elect the best project among the 77 finalists

You might have heard of this initiative by USAID, Gates and World Bank before. They have been looking into (technological- you know Gates is in there) solutions to improve the survival of mother and neonates. So they launched a grand challenge where anyone could send in a concept that would help improve survival. We are now in the second phase. Projects have been shortlisted. They are now having discussions with shortlisted candidates and in parallel everybody is free to vote for their preferred project among the 77 finalists. I tried myself to vote for the project of my colleagues named “Ultrasound4Africa!“. A nice project I really encourage you to vote for by the way. Karen Grepin also advertised her project on her bog.

What is that people’s choice award worth? As I said higher up, I myself tried to vote for “Ultrasound4Africa!“. But I got a bit upset. So the problems are.

1. you need to register to be allowed to vote – that’s not the problem though. And this registration procedure requires you to go on the website give your email, go back to your email, have a one time link, provide a very strong password (you know 4 different kind of characters: Ab1!) and then you are allowed to go to the list of projects and vote. I wonder how many people living in low income countries that would be the beneficiaries of these approaches will have the opportunity to access the website.

2. You can vote as many times as you want, about every 15 minutes. Which means that the groups who are better organised will have the largest chance to succeed regardless of the content of the project they propose. But as we don’t know what this people choice award will bring along beyond an honorary award, you don’t really see the point. So I kind of like the project -taken that it has a strong bias toward technologies- but this people’s vote rather looks like a farce to me.

David Hercot

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