Pratt Pouch Project Funded in Ecuador

GSK and Save the Children have awarded $226,600 to a program that uses a Duke innovation to help prevent mothers from passing HIV to their newborn children in Ecuador. The project uses a product dubbed the “Pratt Pouch”—which looks similar to a fast-food ketchup packet—to deliver anti-HIV medications to infants more accurately and efficiently.

The award is part of the annual $1 million Healthcare Innovation Awards, which recognizes innovations from developing countries that are helping to reduce deaths among children under five. The Duke project was joined by three other winning submissions that were chosen from more than 100 entries in 26 countries.

A major initiative of GSK and Save the Children’s five-year partnership, the Healthcare Innovation Awards are the result of the two organizations combining their resources, voices and expertise to help save one million children’s lives. Focusing on innovation, the program seeks to identify ideas that make a tangible difference to children’s health and enable the projects’ leaders to share and replicate their approach.

“We set out to identify brilliant ideas born in developing countries that are helping save children’s lives,” said Lisa Bonadonna, head of the GSK-Save the Children partnership. “Too often, these inventions fly under the radar due to lack of funds or profile. We wanted to change that.”

The Pratt Pouch is already in use in multiple countries, including Uganda, Zambia and Tanzania. In Africa, the long shelf-life of the medication’s packaging is very important to its effectiveness. But in South America, the ability for the mothers’ to provide their children with accurate dosing is the primary concern.

“We are thrilled to be given this great honor,” said Bob Malkin, professor of the practice in biomedical engineering and global health at Duke, who invented the Pratt Pouch and has been working on it with the help of undergraduates at Duke for the past eight years. “The money will be used to expand our project in Ecuador, allowing the Pratt Pouch to help prevent thousands of infants from becoming HIV positive.

“We are also really excited about the expansion of the project in Uganda,” continued Malkin. “Thanks to an award from Saving Lives at Birth, nearly 40 percent of Ugandan women will be able to access the medication they need for their children using the Pratt Pouch, starting later in 2016.  We are hoping to see the introduction of the pouch in Nigeria in 2017 as well.”