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5 Innovations in Global Health: Maybe not what you were expecting

By Sudip Bhandari | 22 Oct, 2014

When you think about innovation in global health, what comes to your mind? New mobile applications to improve delivery, processes for rapid diagnostic tests, or new point of care technology for health care? While these advances in modern medicine are important, the author of this article, Krista Donaldson, CEO of D-Rev argues that “technology-based solutions only get us so far.” She provides examples of organizations at the front lines of global health that are innovating in delivery, partnerships and financing.

I would love to get thoughts from members here on the article, and more specifically on the following questions:
Where do you think next innovation needs to happen in global health?
Are there organizations that you can think of that are applying innovative approaches to improve global health?

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Radha krishna Behara Replied at 11:58 PM, 22 Oct 2014

With well connected world via internet and other communication channels there is a need for Medicine (Health care), Engineering (Health care devices) , agriculture(Healthy living), technology, life sciences etc,there is a need to club all these together and a new syllabus developed to train our young population over coming the boundaries of country, region, race, status etc to solve come of the greatest global challenges and challenging diseases like Cancer, Alzheimer, diabetes etc . Presently global universities, schools who train our young students prepare them for a specific subject matter based on different standards and once these students are employed, most of them get confined to their subject matter skills. But no one is talking to develop on global scale one single platform for developing ,implementing and training next generation professionals who can handle cross sector challenges whether it comes from Medical field or agricultural or engineering challenge. Many reputed universities just started online courses called Massive online open course ware(MOOC) and "competency based education" but they don't talk to Medical colleges or agricultural colleges and engineering colleges to create one single syllabus so that these students can use the best practices of cross branch subject knowledge to solve some of the greatest challenges our planet faces.
I always stress this point as a speaker at the local university but with mute response. I wrote on the trends in education and other topics in my blog to know where we stand. You can read this using the below links.
More can be searched here
If industry bigwigs from Medical , engineering and agriculture comes and train interested professionals we would be able to solve many global challenges with ease.

Nicole Braxley Replied at 3:40 AM, 23 Oct 2014

Great article. I'm working in Rwanda with HRH (Human Resources for Health) to set up the first emergency medicine residency and department. Most that come here agree that Rwanda is leaps and bounds beyond other low-resource countries, particularly in healthcare. And the HRH program, a brilliant, well thought out plan, is truly the first of its kind and poised to alter the shape of future global healthcare projects. However, we experience the same problems discussed in the article. The HRH program was slotted approximately $20million USD during its first year for new equipment in the referral hospitals, but as far as I can see, no money was allotted for when the new technologies break down. Not to mention that the majority of the fancy, new equipment is still in procurement (aka purgatory) and no one can tell us what exactly is coining or when. Our new (and only) EKG machine has already blown a fuse. One of the four monitors purchased has broken cords with no plans to replace. The ABG machine purchased requires an input cartridge that runs about $25USD per sample with no budget to purchase the cards. I could go on...
Meanwhile, we still lack basic communication between district hospital and referral centers upon patient transfers. Patients on HAART therapy, the success of the medication so highly dependent on consistent use, arrive to us daily with no idea what drugs they're taking. There is no protocol for basic burn management, a typically poorly managed diagnosis the kills so many children every year (from sepsis).
I am in favor of innovative system changes that are capacity-building and sustainable. And while these phrases are nearly ubiquitous in global health these days, I remained convinced the answers come in the form of joint conversations with host country nationals, possibly with great ideas from foreigners working on the ground.
I want to offer one more piece for thought- some technologically advanced countries like my home, the US, may also need to work on its own low-tech solutions. Our age of electronic medical records, while boosting our ability to bill insurance companies, has not yet improved our compliance with hand washing. Infant mortality rates are still embarrassing despite our growing reliance on c-sections, and communications between nurses and doctors can use some work, as evidenced by the recent Ebola miss in Texas.
Innovative does not equal "high tech." I applaud the author for thinking outside the box.
Excuse any errors- types from an iPhone with a sleeping baby on my chest...

Pradeep Suthram Replied at 12:49 PM, 23 Oct 2014

There is no lack of experts in global health. And there is ample room for innovation in coming up with new ideas for healthcare / med devices. But the stark gap in knowledge and expertise in global health *delivery* is mind boggling and prevents impact investors (or mainstream investors) from helping innovations scale and improve.

Nicole - All these problems you stated were issues faced by software companies in the 1990s, when they sold CDs with 16 digit license keys. They had no idea how consumers used their product, did not train consumers sufficiently, and had a really hard time upgrading software leading to a lot of security issues. Today's subscription models in the developed world (like Netflix) don't put the ownership of the product in the hands of consumers. Instead consumers simply subscribe to a service provided by companies and put the ownership on the provider to upgrade, support, and train users/consumers as necessary. Instead they wrap a solution around the product, lower prices, and focus on long-term engagement.

Imagine if we had a global health delivery system where funding was budgeted for 10 years with annual/monthly payments and a financial structure incentivized support, training, and upgrades for equipment.

It's the whole answer but I think it can greatly help.

Heather MacCleoud Replied at 11:11 AM, 19 Nov 2014

Higher education institutions should become much more involved and innovative in their efforts to improve global health. They need support in this from policymakers, funders, and accreditation bodies.

Colleges and universities have the job of training healthcare providers that are globally aware and responsive to the needs of their local communities while realizing that their work impacts (and is impacted by) people and events around the world. Universities need to be supported in their abilities to provide innovative R&D in terms of medications and technologies to impact patients and providers across the globe. Higher education institutions are in the unique position of both training the future healthcare workforce and providing services/technologies/medications/training to support their efforts to improve health.

We provide professional development opportunities and events to help faculty and administrators network and share best practices in terms of improving training and research so that local healthcare also becomes global healthcare (and vice versa). We are always looking for new issues to explore and people engaged in this topic to connect with.

I am including links to our work on this for review and comment. I look forward to continuing this important discussion with you, and to sharing your thoughts with colleges and universities engaged in this work around the world.

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Beatriz Manuel Chongo Replied at 11:31 AM, 19 Nov 2014

I would like to join your team, please. My email is


Juliet Laverley Replied at 2:05 PM, 19 Nov 2014

Will do.

This Community is Archived.

This community is no longer active as of December 2018. Thanks to those who posted here and made this information available to others visiting the site.