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University of Michigan School of Information


Mustafa Naseem Receives Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Grant

Tuesday, 09/24/2019

Since the introduction of the polio vaccine, the disease has been eradicated in much of the world. Polio is still present in Pakistan, however, due to poor compliance with routine immunization schedules. 

This is especially a problem in rural areas where healthcare centers are sparsely located, understaffed and understocked, and vaccine record keeping has traditionally been paper-based and prone to human error.

University of Michigan School of Information (UMSI) clinical assistant professor Mustafa Naseem has a plan to change that narrative. 

Naseem has secured two $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fund “Using Data-Driven Algorithms to Detect False Data Entries, ” a machine learning-based anomaly detection algorithm to identify errors in electronic immunization data in Pakistan. The second grant, titled “Beyond Data Collection: Actionable Insights to Vaccinator Supervisors,” will create an android application that synthesizes near complex vaccination data into actionable snippets for vaccinator supervisors.  

The government in Pakistan introduced a smartphone based monitoring system to track the movements and vaccinations administered by each vaccinator in the field. This system has challenges, however, as the data is inaccessible to immediate vaccine supervisors and is still vulnerable to human error. 

Naseem and his team will develop an android application to present digital immunization and performance data from front-line health workers to their medical supervisors. This will allow supervisors to better monitor performance, identify key challenges to comprehensive vaccination coverage, and help them better manage vaccine supplies. 

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) supports innovative thinkers worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in approaching how people can solve persistent global health and development challenges. Naseem’s projects are two of approximately 100 GCE Round 21 & 22 grants announced by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

To receive funding, Naseem and other GCE winners demonstrated a bold idea in one of seven critical global heath and development topic areas. The foundation is accepting applications for the next GCE round in September 2019.

About Grand Challenges Explorations 

Grand Challenges Explorations is a $100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Launched in 2008, over 1420 projects in more than 65 countries have received Grand Challenges Explorations grants. The grant program is open to anyone from any discipline and from any organization. The initiative uses an agile, accelerated grant-making process with short two-page online applications and no preliminary data required. Initial grants of $100,000 are awarded two times per year. Successful projects have the opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to $1 million.

About Mustafa Naseem

Mustafa Naseem is a clinical assistant professor of information at the University of Michigan School of Information. Naseem’s interests lie at the intersection of technology and poverty. His recent work has focused on the use of information and communication technology (ICT) to improve public service delivery in global health, and water and sanitation (WASH) sectors. 

Naseem has taught and led ICT, design, and entrepreneurship programs in six countries in Africa, Asia and North America. Prior to joining UMSI, Mustafa was the ICTD Expert-in-Residence at the ATLAS Institute, University of Colorado Boulder. He received his master’s degree from the ATLAS Institute on a Fulbright Scholarship, and was shortlisted among 12 finalist Rolex Awards for Enterprise Young Laureates in 2016.

- Jessica Webster, UMSI PR Specialist


Lede image credit: Creative Commons license: Sanofi Pasteur / Almeena Ahmed / Sanaullah Afridi