About 200 guests from Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania converged at the Sheraton Hotel in Kampala, Uganda to celebrate the inaugural [Health Market Innovations Awards (HIA)](http://www.ihpmr.org/www/) in the East African Region. The event, which took place May 2, 2012, saw the [Mothers 2 Mothers]( http://healthmarketinnovations.org/program/mothers-2-mothers) program emerge as the most outstanding health market innovation.
_At right: The Guest of Honor,_ _Dr._ _Christine Ondoa, Uganda’s Minister of Health, presenting the Health Market Innovations Awards to the overall winning program for 2012, Mothers 2 Mothers, represented by Nicole Fulton._
The awards, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and organized by the Institute of Health Policy Management and Research (IHPMR) as part of the Center for Health Market Innovations, **aim to recognize outstanding health programs in the East African region that have increased access to health services, improved quality of service delivery, and provided financial protection to the poor and vulnerable**. The awards are also intended to create awareness of existing health market innovations in the region, provide a platform for benchmarking among stakeholders, and encourage the spirit of excellence and innovation among program implementers.
Awards were handed out in five main categories and eight sub categories, as well as to four programs judged to be “most promising” and one overall winner—a program judged to be the most innovative, replicable and scalable, and to have had the most impact by reaching the largest number of vulnerable populations across East Africa.
The Mothers 2 Mothers program, which operates in the East African countries of Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, as well as Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland and Zambia, emerged as the overall winner. The program provides training to HIV+ mothers and employs them to mentor their communities. It also works to involve men in maternal health issues and decisions—traditionally considered to be a “women’s activity”—thus encouraging couples to actively engage in the uptake of HIV/AIDS, maternal and reproductive health services together.
When giving the overall award to Ms. Nicole Fulton of Mothers 2 Mothers, the guest of honour, Dr. Christine Ondoa, Uganda’s Minister of Health, applauded private sector efforts to develop innovative programs that are complimenting the government’s health care agenda. She **emphasized the need to embrace public private partnerships, terming them as the way forward in the health sector**. “Together, we can do more.” She also recognized the importance of such awards in the region by mentioning that they serve as a great source of motivation and inspiration to program implementers, thus spurring more innovation.
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_The IHPMR team, from left to right: Rose Ochieng, Eric Walumoli, Conrad Laleti, Janet Mugo, Faith Mahinda, Lennah Nekesa, Dr. Maureen Nafula (ED), Maria Tinkah (Uganda), Charles Muhizi (Rwanda), Mercyline Adhiambo, Colleta Mutua, Ruth Mutuli, Toywa muyoti and Daniel Mureithi._
The [APOPO](http://healthmarketinnovations.org/search?search=APOPO) program from Tanzania, which uses rats to detect tuberculosis, was given a special mention at the event for its unique approach to diagnostics. The complete list of winners [is available here](http://healthmarketinnovations.org/sites/healthmarketinnovations.org/fil...).
The Rockefeller Associate Director for East Africa, Mwihaki Kimura, gave a special address during the event, with a focus on transforming the healthcare marketplace through a mixed health systems approach.
The awards’ selection process was conducted in three stages, with the final winners determined by a panel of four judges drawn from each of the countries: _Kenya:_ Dr. Peter Kamunyo, _Rwanda:_ Dr. Jean Nyirinkwaya, _Uganda:_ Dr. Peter Luwaga and _Tanzania:_ Dr. Hashim Mohammed.
The Health Innovations Awards will be held annually, with the 2013 event geared to be held in Dar-es-Salaam Tanzania during the 2nd Annual East African Healthcare Federation Conference.