Social innovation

TDR has spearheaded the Social Innovation in Health Initiative (SIHI), a collaboration with the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Cape Town, the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. SIHI is engaging partner institutions in low- and middle income countries to join forces.

Over 1 billion people, mostly in low- and middle-income countries, still have limited access to healthcare. There are drugs, devices and vaccines but they aren’t being delivered or accessed by those who need them most. Social innovation is one way that engages communities in grassroots actions that can develop solutions. Businesses are created that provide social benefits, like setting up primary health posts in rural areas in Rwanda run by nurses, or teaching teachers in Malawi how to recognize symptoms of malaria in their students.

Research results for social innovation

The goal of the TDR initiative is to advance the science of the social innovation field for communities challenged with infectious diseases. Twenty-three social innovation projects in 15 countries were selected from a call to be showcased and analysed for their effectiveness and generalizability. Both case studies and videos on each project are now available.

TDR Director John Reeder says, “It’s about driving a global culture. There are two aspects to this ̶ approaching health from a social and inclusive way, and doing it well, with data, in a way that others can pick up and transform to their own context and their own particular settings.”

François Bonnici
François Bonnici

Work is underway to develop a model for building capacity to do this kind of work. Francois Bonnici, Director of the Bertha Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation in South Africa, says, “We need to separate out what is social entrepreneurship that’s about individualism and enterprise and what is it about achieving the health impact.”


For more information, contact at TDR: Dr Beatrice Halpaap.


Recent news