- technology dissemination fellowship program
- visiting practioners program
- yunus challenges
2007 – 2013:
value from waste
clean hands for health and prosperity
affordable small-scale energy storage solutions
indoor air quality pollution
tuberculosis drug adherence
2010 muhammad yunus innovation challenge:
promoting clean hands for health and prosperity
Millions of children die every year of diarrheal diseases and acute respiratory infections, which remain leading causes of preventable death, especially among the young in developing countries. Hands are a common vector for disease transmission, and the number of deaths could be cut dramatically if a simple method of cleaning hands were widely promoted and practiced. In addition to the obvious health benefits, associated economic benefits, such as reducing the amount of school and work days missed, would accrue as well.
The 2010 Yunus Innovation Challenge calls for innovative hygiene solutions to encourage clean hands among those living in poverty. Solutions should be designed for implementation in communities living at or below the poverty level.
Infectious diseases affect everyone. Yet a strong relationship exists between poverty, an unhygienic environment, and the number of episodes and severity of illness. The health cost of infectious diseases is tremendous and falls disproportionately on young children. Diarrheal diseases and acute respiratory infections are the leading causes of preventable death among children under five in developing countries, claiming the lives of more than 3.5 million children a year.
Hands are a common vector for disease transmission. Studies suggest that transforming good hand hygiene from an abstract idea into an automatic behavior performed in homes, schools and communities worldwide has the potential to save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention, interrupting the transmission path of disease and helping to prevent more than 1 million child deaths per year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cleaning hands is "the single most important means of preventing the spread of infection," yet recent studies and reports indicate that lack of hand hygiene contributes significantly to disease transmission.
Despite interventions that make cleaning hands less costly, many barriers remain in place to widespread adoption of such practices. Challenges to overcome include:
- inertia in adopting hygiene practices
- cost and availability of resources
- cultural barriers such as social norms and preferences
There is a need to identify cost-effective ways to facilitate long-term behavioral change and technology adoption to encourage clean hands and improve hygiene. It is equally important to understand how households assess risk and how actionable health messages can be presented in different cultures and settings.
Improving hygiene may have the greatest impact where there is high population density, such as in urban areas, and where the entire community adopts the intervention, rather than single households. There is some evidence that inducing health or hygiene behavioral change may be especially difficult among the poorest groups.
The hygiene needs of the poor are wide and varied, and it is not expected that proposed solutions will address all issues surrounding disease transmission from unhygienic hands. However, Yunus Challenge solutions should address a particular need and fill it well. Participants are encouraged to work on a design with a specific community or region in mind as this can be helpful in identifying constraints and providing context.
There are several additional sources of information (see bottom of page), but in particular participants are encouraged to read the following papers, which underscore that the real challenge is to overcome the behavioral hurdle of not cleaning hands regularly and designing a solution to this behavioral issue, rather than look at it only in technological terms of designing a low-cost, novel way to clean hands. The latter may be useful, but if it does not lead to greater hand cleaning by overcoming the behavioral barriers, as Dr. Leo Celi noted in his talk at the Challenge's kick off event last October, it does not address the core issue of the 2010 Yunus Innovation Challenge.
- "Planned, motivated and habitual hygiene behaviour: an eleven country review"
(Valerie A. Curtis, Lisa O. Danquah, and Robert V. Aunger)
- "The Use of Soap and Water in Two Bangladeshi Communities: Implications for the Transmission of Diarrhea"
(Sushila Zeitlyn and Farzana Islam)
- "Household Characteristics Associated with Handwashing with Soap in Rural Bangladesh"
(Stephen P. Luby, Amal K. Halder, Carole Tronchet, Shamima Akhter, Abbas Bhuiya, and Richard Johnston)
- "Behavioral Economics and Marketing in Aid of Decision-Making among the Poor"
(Marianne Bertrand, Sendhil Mullainathan, and Eldar Shafir)
In addition, the following works, which are assigned readings for the hand-washing section of the class "Water and Sanitation Infrastructure in Developing Countries, Spring 2010" (1.851J/11.479J) are invaluable references. Our thanks to Susan Murcott, Senior Lecturer and Principal Investigator at MIT's Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and Principal, Ecosystems Engineering for providing these.
- "The Rationality Factor: Choosing water sources according to water uses"
(Astier Almedom and Christian Odhiambo)
- "Effect of handwashing on child health: a randomised controlled trial"
(Stephen P. Luby, Mubina Agboatwalla, Daniel R. Feikin, John Painter, Ward L. Billhimer, Arshad Altaf, and Robert M. Hoekstra)
of Intensive Handwashing Promotion on Childhood Diarrhea in High-Risk
Communities in Pakistan: A Randomized Controlled Trial"
(Stephen P. Luby, Mubina Agboatwalla, John Painter, Arshad Altaf, Ward L. Billhimer, and Robert M. Hoekstra)
- "Handwashing Cost-Effectiveness Study - Economic
Analysis of Handwashing in Central America and Peru: Developing
cost-effective approaches to improving health" FILE NOT FOUND
(James A. Cercone, Rodrigo J. Brice√±o, and Tarina G. Concheso)
- The Handwahsing Handbook: A guide for developing a hygiene promotion program to increase handwashing with soap
(Jamal Saghir, Jacques Baudouy, et al.)
This 10:25-minute Edge Video, "The Irony of Poverty", a talk given by Dr. Sendhil Mullainathan, makes for excellent watching on the same theme. A professor of economics at Harvard and a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant", Mullainathan conducts research on development economics, behavioral economics, and corporate finance. His work concerns creating a psychology of people to improve poverty alleviation programs in developing countries. He is currently the Executive Director of Ideas 42, Institute of Quantitative Social Science, at Harvard University.
Opportunities are available for students who want to learn more about the Yunus Challenge and the context in which a solution should operate. Students are encouraged to apply for Public Service fellowships, internships and grants that provide them with the opportunity to work on a potential program and with communities to develop a feasible solution which takes local context into account. For more information, please contact Alison Hynd at email@example.com.
For additional support in gathering information about the local context, customs and conditions of a specific community or country, participants may leverage the expertise of D-Lab teams who have local partners in more than 20 countries and who did field work over the 2010 January IAP session in eight countries across three continents. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Participants also may enter proposals into the IDEAS Competition, where two special awards have been created to provide winning teams with funding to pursue their ideas. For more information, please contact Lars Hasselblad at email@example.com. Further information on the IDEAS Competition as it pertains to the 2010 Yunus Innovation Challenge follows immediately below.
IDEAS Competition Criteria
The Yunus Challenge IDEAS Award for 2010 will be given to participants who create an innovative solution that solves as many of the problems as possible surrounding disease transmission from unhygienic hands for those living in poverty.
As the Challenge focuses on encouraging clean hands and improving hygiene among the world's poorest populations, solutions should aim for a price point that makes intervention accessible to target communities (who are located for the most part in low-income nations with poor infrastructure) and allows for dissemination on a large scale.
As with all IDEAS awards, innovation, feasibility and impact will be important criteria in judging. Specific issues to address include, but should not necessarily be limited to:
- Acceptability within the community (i.e., likelihood of adoption)
- Health impact
- Environmental impact
Credit will be given for supporting rationale regarding how the solution will directly address the issues faced. For example, this rationale could include why the team decided to focus particular attention on solving one aspect of the challenge. However, if a team decides that another factor is equally significant, supporting evidence for this factor also should be provided.
While not required, the solution may involve a physical device. The system should be designed to operate in conditions prevalent in poor households and communities where basic hygiene is limited. Again, participants are encouraged to work on a design with a specific community or region in mind as this can be helpful in identifying constraints and providing context.
- October 15, 2009: Yunus Innovation Challenge Kickoff, from 7:00 to 9:00pm, R&D Pub Lounge (Stata Center, 4th Floor)
- IAP (January 6, 2010): Global Health Think Tank class, from 7:00 to 9:00pm, 8-205
- March 4, 2010: Yunus Innovation Challenge Dinner: Promoting Clean hands for health and prosperity. Keynote speaker: Dr. Rachel Glennerster of the Jameel Poverty Action Lab, from from 7:00 to 9:00pm, W20 (Stratton Center) West Lounge
A sampling of resources for participants about health and hygiene follows. There are many more available, so please do not hesitate to ask!
- Jeffrey Blander National Institutes of Health (USA and Tanzania)
- Abdul Latif JameelPoverty Action Lab (India)
- Roy Ndoma-Egba (Nigeria)
- Lotika Shaunik PaintalWater Centric (USA and India)
- Rochelle Rainey USAID (Pakistan)
- Global Hand Washing Day (October 15, 2009)
- World Health Organization
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
For assistance in finding additional resources specific to your project, please contact an MIT librarian.
For more information on the 2010 Yunus Innovation Challenge, please contact Laura Sampath at firstname.lastname@example.org