The first cycle of the Gelia Castillo Award for Research on Social Innovations in Health (GCARSIH) was conducted in 2020-2021. GCARSIH resulted from collaborations between the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), Department of Health (DOH), and Social Innovation in Health Initiative (SIHI) Philippines. The collaboration can be traced to an open call for social innovations in health by TDR implemented by SIHI Philippines in 2017. PCHRD and DOH were engaged for this innovation call through invitations to be part of the steering committee. The experience encouraged them to start their own call for social innovations. This also aligned with the agenda of their institutions.
GCARSIH seeks to recognize social innovations that address persistent and systemic health challenges in the Philippines. It also provides support for further development of innovations through research. GCARSIH received 53 eligible entries nationwide with assistance from regional research consortia of the PCHRD. After rigorous screening, three innovations were identified as winners. These innovations presented unique solutions to specific health needs and challenges in their communities.
Upscaling of innovations is embedded in GCARSIH through incentives for winners and finalists. They are given an opportunity for capacity building through a training package for research grant application and writing. Winners are also eligible for a research grant from the PCHRD.
The second cycle of GCARSIH is currently being conducted. This signifies the continued commitment from the public sector to engage with social innovators and support social innovations in health. GCARSIH continues to identify outstanding social innovations in health that have potential for upscaling and integration into more accessible and inclusive health systems.
GCARSIH presents an example of how social innovations in health can be institutionalized into national systems and strengthen local health systems through strategic engagement. GCARSIH may provide a template for countries to adapt social innovation into their national agenda.