Fortified Salt Wins Scientists Without Borders Challenge
By doing something as simple as fortifying salt in order to give it more folic acid, it may be possible to save some of the 3.6 million children who die within the first 28 days of their lives each year. Salt fortification and two other solutions were the winner's of Scientists Without Borders' Maternal Health and Nutrition open innovation challenge.
The Challenge, issued in November 2010, sought simple and low-cost methods to enable women to easily supplement or fortify staple foods with folic acid at the home or community level. Folic acid is a B-complex vitamin needed by the body to manufacture red blood cells, a lack of which contributes to high rates of infant mortality and birth defects.
The first place solution was submitted by Carlos Miranda of New Zealand, a manager at a pharmaceutical company, who proposed a method of triple fortifying salt. The second place solution was submitted by Pushpakaran K. Thiyadi of India, a freelance researcher and consultant, who proposed an idea for microencapsulation of folic acid. The third place solution was submitted by a team of graduate students from Northwestern Universitycomprised of individuals hailing from Albania, Canada, Russia, and Vietnamwho proposed leveraging microfinance networks as a distribution mechanism. The winners will share the challenge's $10,000 prize.
"Undernutrition, which includes deficiencies in micronutrients such as folic acid, is one of the most serious and least addressed global development issues, which contributes to an estimated 3.6 million preventable maternal and child deaths a year" said Shaifali Puri, Executive Director of Scientists Without Borders. "We are thrilled that our unique model for leveraging collaboration and open innovation yielded such promising approaches to accelerating progress in this crucial area."
The winners were selected by an independent advisory panel of three of the world's leading nutrition science and policy experts, convened by Scientists Without Borders. The organization partnered with InnoCentive Inc., PepsiCo and the New York Academy of Science to spread the word about their challenge.
"This Challenge fostered a multitude of innovative ideas, and we could not be happier to support this endeavor, said Mehmood Khan, CEO of PepsiCo's Global Nutrition Group. "We must continue to strive for innovative solutions that make healthy eating and healthy lifestyles affordable and convenient. By addressing critical undernutrition at home and with women, the Solvers have played a vital role in the health of mothers, their children, and future generations."
Having announced the winning solutions, Scientists Without Borders will now work with the Solvers and additional partners to advance the ideas proposed so that they can be translated into viable and scalable interventions.Rice Revolution Targets Growing Global Food Shortage
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