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A fair start for 1 million more children

22 Nov 2019

TNO is working hard on its mission to improve child health and wellbeing in developing countries with an ambitious five-year plan aimed at 1 million children. As business developer at TNO, Roelinde Bakker is committed to this mission. Being a mother of three daughters, she knows all the joys and challenges that come with being a parent. "We enjoy the luxury of excellent healthcare." In developing countries, this is by no means the case. Roelinde is stepping up to right this wrong.

To find about more of the initiatives TNO is performing in the area of child health care world-wide

Get in touch with Roelinde Bakker

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The first 1000 days of a child’s development

The very first stages of pregnancy up to the second year of a child’s life are of paramount importance for the physical and mental development of both mother and child. Health complications during this period can have significant effects on a person's health at a later age. TNO has been active in youth health in the Netherlands for over sixty years. As a knowledge partner, TNO works in close collaboration with the public and private sectors. To make a positive impact in developing countries TNO and local partners draw on this extensive knowledge base to develop a custom-made approach suited to the local context.

Roelinde Bakker plays a key role in realizing TNO’s objectives. She analyzes which partners and what possible new services can improve the health of pregnant women and children as well as access to healthcare in developing countries. Roelinde builds coalitions of companies, NGOs and other stakeholders and jointly creates action plans and secures funding in order to realize innovative projects. Roelinde: "What's great about TNO is its extensive child health expertise, its strong track record in public-private partnerships and its ability to make these partnerships work internationally."

Knowledge is the key to a healthier life

Providing better healthcare in developing countries is not just a matter of supplying new equipment or technological devices. TNO works on system innovations in which social and technology innovations are integrated, stakeholders are connected and a joint effort is made to bring about change and impact health for the better. “TNO calls this: Orchestrating Innovation,” Roelinde says. “As there is much room for improvement in developing countries, a giant leap forward can be realized.” 
“TNO implements only long-term sustainable innovations based on viable business models that meet the needs of the individual, the collective and the country. This long-term approach results in a steady improvement of health and wellbeing. The challenge with these projects is primarily their complexity. They require a different infrastructure and dynamic than we are used to when doing a project in the Netherlands.”

What we need to succeed

For the past thirteen years TNO has been actively involved in the first 1000 days in Suriname, Ghana and Indonesia. To be successful in implementing innovative healthcare programs in developing countries, different pieces of the puzzle must come together. First of all, it is important that partners and stakeholders work closely together. Secondly, our knowledge is shared with local partners who have in-depth insights in the country's state of affairs; they share a sense of urgency and make providing a good start for children and families a priority. Finally, a sound and sustainable business model is essential. The project must result in a stable local organization that in the long term can run without the support of TNO.

Knowledge and passion for health innovation

Drs. Roelinde Bakker

Roelinde lives with her three daughters and husband in Utrecht. She has a background in health sciences and has previously worked for Achmea, where she devoted herself to innovating healthcare for the elderly and the chronically ill. Innovation in health(care) has been the common thread throughout her career. Since September 2019, Roelinde has been working for the Innovation for Development program at TNO in order to scale up and enhance impact. “For me, this job provides an amazing opportunity to apply my knowledge about healthcare innovation in an international context to bring about change in developing countries.” With her knowledge and passion for healthcare innovation and equal opportunities, Roelinde is a great asset to TNO.

This TNO project supports the following Sustainable Development Goal

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