Social Innovation in Health

Social innovation in health is a community-driven approach that connects social transformation and health improvement through engaging both local people and organizations in community-engaged partnerships. Social innovations can provide momentum for achieving several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including improved health and well-being, inclusive and equitable quality education, reduced disparities, and innovation and infrastructure. COVID-19 epidemic has shown the prominent benefits of social innovation. Amidst the struggle to deliver basic healthcare for many low- and middle- income countries (LMICs), community-led social innovation has empowered communities to overcome obstacles and engaged them to create and implement effective solutions to address health issues.

The Social Innovation in Health Initiative

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine was one of the founding members of the Social Innovation in Health Initiative (SIHI) in 2014. SIHI is a global network of dedicated individuals, organizations and institutions advocating for social innovation in health and promoting research in social innovation. Since 2014, SIHI has discovered and researched dozens of community-based social innovations in 17 countries. It has the goal of accelerating the progress toward universal health coverage and the SDGs.

Practical Guides and Tools


WHO-TDR Public Engagement and Crowdfunding Practical Guide

To encourage more effective public participation in research and provide practical strategies for LMIC researchers to consider crowdfunding for their research. Learn more here


WHO-TDR Crowdsourcing in Health and Health Research Practical Guide

To facilitate inclusive community engagement in research. Learn more here


WHO-TDR Social Innovation Monitoring and Evaluation Framework

To guide researchers, innovators, community members, decision-makers, and other social innovation actors on how to monitor and assess all stages of the social innovation development process for effectiveness, sustainability, and scalability. Learn more here


Understanding Social Innovation in Health


What is social innovation

Social innovation provides us a different perspective to view health systems strengthening. With the belief that all individuals can be a competent interpreter of their own lives and has the wisdom to address the problems experienced, social innovations are merely collective solutions to problems. They have the potential to solve a “wicked” problem with creative and unconventional approaches.

Who are social innovators

Social innovations can come from anywhere. They are created and implemented by individuals, organizations or institutions from different backgrounds and sectors.

Forms of Social Innovations

Social innovations can take the forms of processes, products, market mechanisms, role and behavioral practices, or new paradigms and policies. Most often, it is a combination of these different forms.

Outcomes of social innovations

    • To ensure more inclusive, effective, and affordable healthcare deliveries.
    • To encourage a more inclusive social relationships between people.
    • To empower and build capacities of communities and individuals involved.
    • To reshape institutions and thus foster greater resilience in the system.