​​As we enter 2015, the year when the Millennium Development Goals​ ​will be reviewed and new targets created, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have announced its "big bet" - a call for action for improving the lives of poor people over the next 15 years through disease elimination, improved health, access to technology and education. 

Specifically, the Gates Annual Letter​ ​predicts that with support from the international community, major breakthroughs will be seen through innovations delivering vaccines, nutritious and sustainable crops and accessible technologies, allowing those living on the periphery to liv​e long and healthy lives.  

Innovations for Improved Child Health and Education    ​

The Partnership for Child Development​'s (PCD) are committed to making these predictions a reality, working on innovations which use the school as a platform to deliver effective health and education programmes​ to schoolchildren - a group that the Gates Foundation predicts will double in 15 years. 

These government-led programmes, such as the provision of spectacles for children with poor vision, promoting good water, sanitation and hygiene practices and infrastructure and feeding children hot nutritious meals, ensure children are healthy, able to learn and stay in school. If twice as many children are to enter school-age by 2030, ensuring they all grow into healthy adults must be a focus. 

Disease Elimination 

In its letter, the Gates Foundation has called for the elimination of polio alongside the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) guinea worm and lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis​ and blinding trachoma by 2013.  ​​​​

With additional time, resources and funding other NTDs which disproportionately impact on children such as schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminths can also be addressed in this time.  

Today ​​400 million children around the world ​​suffer from these NTDs, which significantly impact on their health, education and development. ​The cost of eliminating these NTDs are minimal - through school-based deworming at less than 50 US cents per child per year its benefits are both immediate and enduring. 

Innovations in Technology 

The "big bet" outlines the impact of access to cheaper technologies - and particularly the value of mobile phones for improved learning and promoting digital banking. 

Mobile phones can also be an asset for smallholder farmers. PCD are looking at how mobiles can be used by farmers​ to access markets within Kenya's Home Grown School Feeding programme, a government-led intervention which procures food used in school meals locally from smallholder farmers, benefiting both farmers and children alike. 

This innovation looks at whether farmers groups can gain better access to market information through mobile phone alerts, so farmers know when schools are procuring food, how much is needed and at what quality.  ​​​​