Diagnostic diapers to detect deadly rotavirus among 83 global health innovations to receive Grand Challenges Canada funding

Grand Challenges Canada, Toronto

diaper21 Nov 2013

Grand Challenges Canada, funded by the Government of Canada, today extends seed grants of $100,000 each to 83 inventive new ideas for addressing health problems in resource-poor countries.

The Grand Challenges Canada “Stars in Global Health” program seeks breakthrough and affordable innovations that could transform the way disease is treated in the developing world — innovations that may benefit the health of developed world citizens as well.

Of the 83 grants announced today, 50 are given to innovators in 15 low- and middle-income nations worldwide and 33 to Canadian-originated projects, to be implemented in a total of 30 countries throughout the developing world.

Example projects:

  • High-tech “diagnostic diapers” with a fabric strip that signals deadly rotavirus
  • A simple rolling water barrel with a lawn mower-type handle
  • A vaccine based on a newly-discovered antibody in men that prevents malaria infection in the placenta
  • A Litmus paper-like test to detect bronchitis
  • A simple sticker applied to healthcare facility surfaces that turns colour to signal the need for cleaning
  • A storytelling approach to improving maternal health — Mothers Telling Mothers-to-be about their healthcare experiences, recorded and shared via video to encourage more pregnant women to get medical care
  • A novel, easy-to-use way to reduce newborn deaths and disability from asphyxia caused by birthing attendants’ inability to use current devices
  • A mobile phone-based tool to help healthcare providers and supervisors of varying skill levels support newborn deliveries
  • A device enabling small scale flour millers to fortify their products with iron and vitamin A
  • Repellent-impregnated footwear material and clothing to deter mosquito bites, and a plaster smear for rural mud-huts that safely incorporates insecticides
  • Low-cost, washable cloth menstrual kits for up to one year’s use, increasing rural access to affordable feminine hygiene

“Innovation powers development leading to better health and more jobs. I feel proud that Canada, through Grand Challenges Canada, has supported almost 300 bold ideas to date in our Stars in Global Health program,” says Dr. Peter A. Singer, Chief Executive Officer of Grand Challenges Canada. “This is one of the largest pipelines of innovations in global health in the world today.”

Says the Honourable Christian Paradis, Canadian Minister of International Development and Minister for La Francophonie: “Grand Challenges Canada’s portfolio of projects shows how innovators with bold ideas have the potential to make a big impact on global health. By connecting game-changing ideas with some of the most pressing global health challenges, these projects will lead to sustainable and affordable health solutions in low- and middle-income countries.”

The portfolio of 83 creative, out-of-the-box ideas, selected through independent peer review from 451 applications, includes projects submitted by social entrepreneurs, private sector companies and non-government organizations as well as university researchers.

A complete set of 83 short project descriptions, with links to additional project details, available photos / video, and local contact information, is available in the full news release online here: http://bit.ly/HOLt5b

The global portfolio of grants, broken down by region and country:

30 projects based in 6 African countries (16 in Kenya, 5 in Tanzania, 5 in Uganda, 2 in Nigeria and 1 each in Senegal and Ghana)

17 projects based in 7 countries in Asia (7 in India, 2 in Pakistan 4 in Thailand and 1 each in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Mongolia and the Philippines)

Two projects based in South America (Peru) and one in Europe (Armenia)

33 projects based in 11 Canadian cities (14 in Toronto, 3 each in Calgary, Montreal and Vancouver, 2 each in Winnipeg, Edmonton and London, and 1 each in Halifax, Hamilton, Ottawa and Saskatoon)

The Canadian-based projects will be implemented worldwide (a majority of them implemented simultaneously in more than one country)


News release in full, click here

Sample coverage, by

Toronto Star: “Old and new join to battle child killer; High-tech and ancient craft blend in Indian project aided by Canadian money” (Online: “How a simple strip of silk could save the lives of thousands of children Indian start-up firm gets $100,000 in Canadian funding to develop a silk strip that can diagnose rotavirus, a common cause of diarrhea”  Click here

Ottawa Citizen: “Coming up with a diabetes ‘game-changer’; Ottawa inventor’s blood test would benefit developing countries” also Vancouver Sun: “Inventor’s test could pinpoint diabetes risk,” click here

Winnipeg Free Press: “Taking breast health farther” click here

Saskatoon Star-Phoenix: “Researcher hunts for faster gonorrhea test” click here

Nanaimo Daily News: “City MD will address Third World drownings” click here

Nanaimo News Bulletin“New swim program aims to reduce drowning deaths in Bangladesh” click here

Hamilton Spectator: “Mac gets $100k to develop bronchitis test” click here

Global News Online (1): “5 Canadian innovations that could change the face of global health care” click here

Global News Online (2): How a Canadian yogurt is detoxifying the world’s food supply” click here

CBC National Radio “As it Happens” click here, starts at about 17 1/2 min

CTV Television Montreal: click here


BBC World Service to Africa (re. University of Winnipeg portable low-cost system for early detection of breast cancer)

Deutsche Welle, English for Africa (re. Mothers Telling Mothers project, Uganda)


Medical Design Technologies: “Photos of the Day: Diagnostic Diapers” click here and here

PRBuzz (USA, 430 news sites), click here



The Standard “Kenyan among 83 others to win $100,000 grant,” click here

The Nairobian “Canada to give smart Nairobians $100,000,” click here

AfricaSTI, “Kenyan researcher wins Star in Global Health grant” click here

The People, Kenya, “How chemistry experiment sparked a love for science” click here


South Africa Broadcasting Corporation (Africa-wide, English)

Capital FM (Uganda)



The Express Tribune: “Medical breakthrough: AKU to make gloves to check blood pressure, ECG” click here,

also via Pakistan News Today here

The News International, AKU wins Canadian grants contest” click here

Daily Times: “AKU receives grant to develop stroke detection device” click here

Daily Patriot: “Pakistani Universities clinch grant for ideas with impact on global health” click here


New Indian Express “Canada to Fund New Health Ideas” click here


Agencia EFE (Spain, Spanish): “Dos innovadores proyectos sanitarios peruanos reciben financiación canadiense” click here


Coverage summary, click here