EHS-COVID (436) Social innovation in health: a critical but overlooked component of the COVID-19 pandemic response

17 July, 2021

I was interested to see this discussion paper from HIFA member Luis Gabriel Cuervo and colleages in BMJ Innovations:


CITATION: Moscibrodzki P, Li J, Peeling RW, et alSocial innovation in health: a critical but overlooked component of the COVID-19 pandemic response. BMJ Innovations 2021;7:523-525.

Here are some extracts:

Social innovations in health are inclusive solutions that meet the needs of end users through a multistakeholder, community-engaged process to address the healthcare delivery gap. Social innovation is particularly well suited for the COVID-19 response because it focuses on local needs, develops low-cost solutions and builds on community strengths. In partnership with partner academic institutions, the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases launched the Social Innovation in Health Initiative (SIHI) in 2014... This piece highlights how social innovation has contributed to the COVID-19 response and presents three examples of social innovation projects that have adapted to the pandemic. These examples demonstrate how social innovation during COVID-19 has mobilised local communities, swiftly adapted existing health services and built strong partnerships.

Community mobilisation in Peru

Local people are selected through community assemblies and receive training to become community health workers. The instructional focus is on traditional birth attendant support, strengthening healthcare facilities and comprehensive supervision...

Adapting existing services in Malawi

Chipatala Cha Pa Foni, or Health Centre by Phone, is a toll-free health hotline in Malawi that provides health information and referrals on demand. The innovation was driven by the realisation that people in Malawi, especially those at the last mile, travel long distances to the nearest health facility to receive access to information...

Multisectoral partnership in the Philippines

... Training local leaders and promoting meaningful community participation in solving their own health problems helped the local government prepare and respond to COVID-19 challenges.


Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator,