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December 7, 2021

The Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) today honored Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA) for their leadership in supporting global health research and development (R&D) with its 2021 Innovating for Impact Awards, which celebrate the US policymakers and partnerships driving global health innovation. GHTC also recognized Newborn Essential Solutions and Technologies (NEST360) for its work advancing innovations to end preventable newborn deaths.

“As our comeback from the COVID-19 pandemic has made clear, strong investments in public health research and development are a cornerstone of the American economy and a benefit to communities around the world,” Senator Wicker said in accepting the award. Senator Wicker, who founded and co-chairs the Senate Caucus on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and serves on the Armed Services Committee, was honored with a Congressional Champion Award for his long-standing work to advance policies and funding to combat global health challenges, including efforts to pass the End NTDs Act and protect Army and Navy malaria research programs. 

GHTC also recognized Congressman Bera, who is a leader on the Foreign Affairs Committee, co-chair of the Tuberculosis Caucus, and a founding member of the Global Health R&D Congressional Working Group, with a Congressional Champion Award, for his determined leadership to strengthen global health security and his work pushing the US government to robustly support the international COVID-19 response, including by funding the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and other globally focused research efforts. “It’s my honor to accept this award,” Congressman Bera said, “I look forward to continuing to work to make the world a healthier, kinder place in the 21st century.”

Additionally, GHTC honored NEST360 with its Partnership Award. NEST360 is an international alliance working to end preventable newborn deaths in African hospitals by developing and sustainably scaling up a package of hospital care including a comprehensive bundle of affordable, fit-for-purpose innovations to improve the care of small and sick newborns, along with training and implementation resources. Born out of the labs of the Rice University Rice360 Institute for Global Health Technologies, Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences, and Malawi University of Science and Technology and fueled by the support of funders, including the US Agency for International Development and its Saving Lives at Birth Grand Challenge Program, NEST360 is comprised today of experts from 15 leading organizations.  

Deploying a comprehensive health systems approach that combines the development, testing, and validation of health technologies with distribution systems, training, and resources to support their use, NEST360 has advanced numerous game-changing devices, from a low-cost CPAP to help babies breathe to a battery-operated jaundice detector, and achieved significant progress in transforming newborn care. Since its founding in 2017, NEST360 partners have collaborated with governments to implement services in 65 hospitals across four African countries, train 10,000 medical professionals, and deliver more than 2,300 newborn technologies. These NEST360 facilities support the delivery of 500,000 newborns and the specialized care of 90,000 small and sick newborns annually.

“We are honored to receive this award, which recognizes the work we do with our alliance members, funders, and partners to advance innovations to end preventable newborn deaths in African hospitals,” said Maria Oden, Co-Principal Investigator of NEST360. “No baby should die needlessly, and no parent should have to suffer the loss of a child because the intervention needed is not available. The NEST360 alliance remains dedicated to working with governments to drive sustainable solutions to overcome the barriers that stand in the way of quality newborn health care.”

While GHTC’s Innovating for Impact Awards were previously presented in person at a recognition dinner in Washington, DC, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 awards were unveiled via an online multimedia campaign.

“GHTC is thrilled to honor Senator Wicker, Congressman Bera, and the NEST360 alliance with our Innovating for Impact Awards,” said Jamie Bay Nishi, director of GHTC. “The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored for all of us just how important health technologies, smart policymaking, and multisector partnerships are to confronting global health challenges. We’re delighted to be recognizing the outstanding work of our honorees who are driving innovation to advance health equity globally.”

Global health R&D is vital to conquering the world’s greatest health challenges and to building a safer, healthier world for all. Now in their fifth year, the Innovating for Impact Awards celebrate US commitment to global health R&D and honor the multisector partnerships and policymakers helping to transform breakthrough scientific research into lifesaving technologies for unmet global health challenges.