The First SIU Humanitarian Health innovation Newsletter

At the end of August we were delighted to launch our very first Humanitarian Health and Global Health Innovation Newsletter. Read on for a preview of the insights and if you are interested in staying up to date on the cutting edge of the space make sure to sign up to receive this newsletter in your inbox every two months below:

We have liftoff 🚀

Welcome to your first dose of humanitarian health innovation insights from the MSF Sweden Innovation Unit (SIU)! This newsletter will bring the latest SIU Innovation Case highlights, key insights from the humanitarian health innovation space, and toolkits to guide your own innovation efforts, straight to your inbox every two months. 

For those of you who wish to navigate the humanitarian innovation space or stay afoot of the sector’s progress, this newsletter aims to be a valuable resource. Of course, it’s early days so please do reach out with any questions and suggestions to guide the content in a direction that will be most valuable for you.

Now, without further ado, here is your first dose of humanitarian and global health innovation insights to pore over. 

SIU Innovation Case Updates

A little context - the SIU supports members of the MSF movement to bring forward challenges and potential innovative interventions that may deliver significant impact in the field. We facilitate MSF innovators to collaboratively develop evidence-based interventions to improve health outcomes; reduce costs; and augment the sustainability of MSF operations. Here is a round-up of some of the latest SIU Case activity:


Case One - Energy Sensitisation 

Status: This case has just been launched in collaboration with the ICRC and MSF Operational Center Geneva.  

What can we learn? Sustainability is becoming more crucial by the day across every sector and each vertical, the most recent wave of consciousness driven by the devastating Amazon fires. With this consciousness in mind the Energy Sensitisation case was launched last month with the aim to reduce the environmental footprint and financial burden due to the waste of energy in MSF and ICRC premises. 

By joining forces for this SIU-managed project, ICRC and MSF hope to maximise the chances of scaling-up our findings to have the greatest impact possible on the humanitarian sector.

Next steps: Learn more about this case and keep track of it’s progress and outcomes here > 


Case Two - Video Supported TB (VST) Treatment

Status: Launched just a few months ago with MSF OCA (as a part of the TB Practecal study) the SIU supported VST system is preparing for a wider roll-out in different MSF field locations. 

What can we learn? While not all innovation is digital, we are starting to see the digital opportunity mature for medication adherence and beyond. Investigations led by startups and providers are currently building an evidence base for the applicability of a multitude of approaches for different therapeutic areas leveraging electronic patient reported outcomes, video observed adherence solutions, push reminders, and more. During this project we have seen that there is a strong desire to move from a more controlling approach to become more genuinely patient centred, hence the shift from the original taxonomy and approach of Video Observed Treatment (VOT) to Video Supported Treatment (VST).

Next steps: Beyond the development of a high level guidance tool for VST implementation, the Implementation Toolkit, the SIU has also developed a service to provide better project level guidance according to the contextual needs and realities. The needs assessment tool and support combines a structured methodology with a collaborative field level approach. Learn more about the opportunity for digitally supported interventions for TB treatment here > 


Case Three - Play Therapy: Seeking Partner Project for Implementation!

Status: In April this year the SIU launched the first Pediatric Innovation Hackathon as a part of the MSF Pediatric Days in Stockholm. Play Therapy was one of the challenges brought forward by MSF field staff as a worthy topic to be hacked. Since then the SIU have worked to develop a framework to standardise and support play therapy in MSF operations. 

What can we learn? Innovation must start with a true problem and does not necessarily have to be about creating something radically new. For the Play Therapy case the problem of pediatric cases struggling with stress in peri-operatively had already been identified by field staff and who started organically tackling the need. In this case the SIU was engaged to operationalise and optimize a pre-existing response and ensure maximum scale and benefit of the resulting intervention. 

Next Steps: We are currently looking for a project that would be appropriate to facilitate the trial implementation of this offering. Reach out if you think one of your projects may be a fit! Learn more about the SIU Pediatric hackathon here >

Innovation Toolkit - Join the Conversation

Are you an MSF Innovator or working in R&D? If so, make sure to check out the SIU Innovation Toolkit. Here you'll find a range of tools aimed at making your life as an innovating MSFer easier.

Many of the tools here stem directly from the work done on the Innovation Partnerships Project (IPP) which has been running since April 2018. If you are interested in getting some added insight on partnering for success, how to kick off a landscape analysis, and other key elements of the innovation process this is the place for you.

Explore the Innovation Toolkit

Evidence Insights - MSF and Beyond:

Publication Insight One - Hand Hygiene Tool for Low Resource Settings:

Inclusion of Real-Time Hand Hygiene Observation and Feedback in a Multimodal Hand Hygiene Improvement Strategy in Low-Resource Settings

What it is:  An MSF, Noma Children’s Hospital Nigeria, Radboud University Medical Centre Holland, and Anka General Hospital Nigeria published study. This pilot study explored to what extent a monitoring and data visualization tool for hand hygiene adherence among health care workers would be feasible and improve hand hygiene adherence in low-resource settings.  

Why it matters: In the two Nigerian hospitals which took part in the investigation it was found that hand hygiene adherence increased from 32.4% to 57.4% over 1,359 pre and post intervention observations. This flags the feasibility for the introduction of novel hand- sanitation monitoring tools and methods in low resource settings. This is particularly pertinent as AMR continues to pose an existential risk across the globe. 


Publication Insight Two - Community Health Workers and mHealth: 

What it is: Clinical evaluation of the use of an mhealth intervention on quality of care provided by Community Health Workers in southwest Niger

The insights of this two-arm cluster randomized trial were published by the Niger Ministry of Public Health, World Vision, and the University of Toronto in the journal of Global Health In June 2019.

Why it matters: This study found a small improvement in QoC associated with better assessment of the pediatric cases and improved referral decision making by CHWs. However, when it came to improvements in the treatment of pneumonia, malaria and diarrhoea this improvement was not continued. Overall the return on investment of mHealth intervention was not robustly supported in this case  highlighting the systemic complexity that these digital solutions often entail.

This highlights the need to validate mhealth solutions in varied TAs and contexts but also to keep in mind that digital interventions do not, and should not, exist in a vacuum separate of systems. 

That's all for now 👋

We hope you found the first SIU newsletter useful. Let us know if you have any questions, comments or suggestions - we'd be delighted to continue the conversation! Email us at