Tools for Better Living
The latest issue of Fortune profiles 7 recent devices and ideas that according to them are “remaking our world”. I am not sure if it because I am focusing on this type of thing, but it seems that the mainstream press is paying much more attention to social issues and various private sector focused entities, like Fortune Magazine, are profiling great people and innovations that are helping society. Or it could simply be that as the private sector gets increasingly involved the coverage is also increasing. In my opinion, public health is shamefully far behind in connecting with and realizing the use of the private sector (and technology) in global health efforts. There is a huge chasm between the business world and public health (see Jaspal’s post on the APHA private sector session). Although this may be slowly changing.
On the note of increased coverage, the cover story for Fortune in the summer was about Warren Buffet and from September it was about Bill Clinton’s Foundation. An excerpt from “The Power of Philanthropy” –
Bill Gates has the money. But no one motivates people and moves mountains like Bill Clinton. A look at how the former President has borrowed from the business world to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa and other scourges. “We take a lot of cues from the business world,” says Clinton, who these days can sound more like a CEO than a politician. “We have very entrepreneurial people and a very entrepreneurial process. We identify a problem, we analyze it, and we move. “Much of his staff comes from business, and he says using business practices “allows us to do a lot with relatively small resources.”
Moving onto the current issue of Fortune, one of the chosen 7 brilliant, practical inventions is a self-destructing syringe by UK based Star Syringe (company website). It is good to see that their product is manufactured and marketed in India by Hindustan Syringes & Medical Devices. Full story below:
Problem: AIDS and hepatitis are spread by reused needles.
Solution: A syringe that can’t be shared.
Each year 23 million people in the developing world contract hepatitis and 260,000 get HIV from reused syringes, according to the World Health Organization. Twenty-two years ago Briton Marc Koska, 45, saw a solution: a syringe that self-destructs after one use. With seed capital from friends and family, he set about absorbing everything he could about how syringes are used – and misused – around the world.
He reached one important conclusion: “The world didn’t need any more factories,” says Koska. “If I could go to a factory and get them to convert, I could stop them from making bad syringes and help them make the good.” Koska had to design a syringe that could be made with existing equipment and persuade makers to license his design. It was 17 years before his company, Star Syringe, sold its first single-use syringe in 2001.
Today Star Syringe has 16 licensees making and selling 350 million of its K1 devices in 25 developing countries. The K1, says Koska, has helped save more than two million lives. Thanks in part to a nationwide implementation of Star Syringe’s needles, for instance, Uganda has cut AIDS infection rates in half since 2003, dropping from one of Africa’s highest infection rates to among the lowest.”