Global Health Ideas

Finding global health solutions through innovation and technology

Archive for March 2007

Geography grab bag

Place and health has a long tradition.  The birth of modern spatial analysis of disease is often credited to John Snow’s London cholera map (sidebar: on our honeymoon to London, I took my wife on a public health pilgrimage to the Broad Street pump and nearby John Snow pub).  Check out the WHO’s health mapping site to get a sense how far it’s come.

Couple of interesting links on mapping.

Washington Post reports on “Maps with a Higher Profile

Maps as art takes an interesting twist in this Washington Post piece, “Here Be Dragons

From the Webyantra blog:

Mapunity (short for MAP for commUNITY) is a social entrepreneurship venture that is creating a Geographic Information System focused on socio-economic change.

Web 2.0 versions of social mapping exercises we used to do in the Peace Corps that overlay social networks and two dimensional representations of the physical world … Check out as one of a thousand examples of ‘mash-ups’ (how early 2006).

Finally social maps as networks uniquely located in cognitive space… is one of several sites offering “mind mapping” approaches to organizing knowledge.  Popular example at the SocialEdge.

Postscript –  A quick nod to a fun Feb 6th post at PSDblog “Development 2.0” on dev-tech ‘what-ifs’ .  The comments are definitely worth a read too.

Written by Ben

March 30, 2007 at 2:44 pm

New Report on Social Entrepreneurship

Yesterday at the Skoll World Forum a new report, Growing Opportunity, was released. I thought readers would be interested in their survey on social entrepreneurship, but I would only skim the health chapter as I found it lacking.

“WASHINGTON, Mar. 29, 2007 — Renewable energy, affordable and effective health care, and fighting climate change are just three of the major global problems currently being addressed by a new model of entrepreneurship, according to a new report by SustainAbility…Drawing on the results of a survey of more than 100 ‘social entrepreneurs’, “Growing Opportunity: Entrepreneurial Solutions to Insoluble Problems,” explores how business partnerships with these ‘social entrepreneurs’ offer benefits to both companies and communities.” Full press release.

This is the first report in what will be an annual series. If you don’t have time to read the report, you can find the key conclusions here. For a full copy in PDF version goto the GreenBiz website.

Health Chapter:
The survey does provide some good information, but the chapter on health was disappointing and lacking. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I was put off by several things. First the health chapter highlighted the following thought: “For good or ill, there is a widespread and deeply held public unease at the role of private enterprise at the heart of healthcare delivery.”

growingopportunitycover.jpgI have no idea what this means and am not sure it is even true. It depends what part of the private sector? If we are talking about big pharma, sure, but that is only one piece in the healthcare delivery machine. And as far as non private sector options, there is equal if not more distrust and doubt in parts of governmental run healthcare whether that is in the US (the Walter Reed scandal comes to mind) or abroad where in many countries people purchase most of their healthcare from the private sector. For a sector/industry as complex as healthcare this quote is far too vague and general to be of any use. The lack of citations/references was also a bit troubling to me. I had other problems with the health chapter (email me if you want to hear additional thoughts), but that shouldn’t take away too much away from the overall report. I would still check out the survey portion. For another perspective on the overall report see Joel Makower’s thoughts.

Written by Aman

March 29, 2007 at 9:18 pm

Online chat with CGD President Mar 30th 11am

Nancy Birdsall, president of the Center for Global Development, will be online tomorrow from 11am-12noon EST answering questions about globalization and inequality.

Yesterday, she testified before Congress and challenged us to think beyond the “world is flat” characterization: “But the world is not flat. Those of us on the top, with the right education and in the right countries, can easily overlook the countries and the people stuck in deep craters across the global landscape.” (video available on the CGD website).

This looks like a very cool opportunity and way to reach your audience. Ask a question ahead of time for the online chat.

Written by Aman

March 29, 2007 at 10:30 am

Posted in Global Health

Social entrepreneurship

Lately there have been some interesting connections with projects on social entrepreneurship and I wanted to drop three links here. Yesterday I met with folks at the Rainer Fellows program in San Francisco. They provide a formal framework, training, and mentorship for young social entrepreneurs engaged in health and conservation.

The National Peace Corps Association recently started a podcast series with the SocialEdge (a Skoll Foundation program) focusing on social entrepreneurs who served in the Peace Corps. Great interviews with former PCVs doing everything from transportation to civil society to conservation. The March 26th interview with Carl Pope, director of the Sierra Club and former Peace Corps Volunteer in India (1967-69) is engaging.

The folks are featured on the New York Times. Check out the Nicholas Kristof NYT video.

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Written by Ben

March 28, 2007 at 10:44 am

More Conferences: Private Sector for Global Health

Besides the conference below there are several more coming up (see our previous post for a more complete list):

Unite for Sight, April 2007 – Is anyone attending? We may be going, email us if you want to meet up.
Global Philanthropy Forum @Google, April 2007

The folks at UToronto have put together a conference on Private Sector involvement with a heavy dose of biotech and global health. They have a blockbuster lineup including CK Prahalad, see the PDF Flyer for more details. Maybe someone can suggest a mockcelebrity death match” between the CK and Karnani at one of these conferences, I bet that would garner a huge turnout.

Mobilizing the Private Sector for Global Health Development
May 2-4 2007, MaRS Discovery District, Toronto: A three-day conference organized by the McLaughlin-Rotman Centre, Program on Life Sciences and Global Health at the University of Toronto, bringing together leaders from the global health community and executives of biotechnology firms from India, China, Brazil, South Africa, Canada, and the United States. The opening day will feature discussions on innovative business and financial strategies for stimulating development of health products for the developing world.

March 28th Update: This is Ben with a short addendum to Aman’s list. There’s a conference in Delhi April 12-13th organized by KfW, USAID/India, Packard Foundation and PSP-One called Vouchers for Health: Increasing Access, Equity, and Quality. I plan to attend and cover it for the THDblog.

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Written by Aman

March 27, 2007 at 5:08 am

Posted in Conferences

Point-of-Care Diagnostics Conference

There are a slew of conferences coming up. Here are a couple that are focused on global heath technologies and more specifically on point of care tools. For a background on this type of technology see this Nature article on global health diagnostics where they state: “Access to appropriate diagnostic tools is an essential component in global health. Diagnostics are crucial for identifying the presence and cause of disease at both the individual and population levels, correctly assessing the nature of disease, designating an appropriate course of treatment, monitoring the effects…” For details on what some of these technologies are, see the last device on the page of the Paul Yager Research group.

The first conference is next month at Rice University and it looks like Ruth Levine, from the Center for Global Development, will be presenting. Click on “tentative agenda” for the pdf here:

Later this year there will be another conference:
Washington DC, August 2007, CHI Point-of-Care Conference
Technologies are becoming available that will enable point-of-care assays that are rapid, accurate, and easy to use. The development of assays for applications in cardiac treatment, cancer, endocrine, immune disease, infectious disease will be highlighted, as well as the demand for generating reliable data and reducing costs associated with these tests.

  • Global Health Diagnostics, Steven Buchsbaum, Ph.D., Senior Program Officer, Global Health Technologies, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • FIND: Bridging the Gaps in the Development and Rollout of Innovative Diagnostics for Poverty Related Diseases, Giorgio Roscigno, M.D., Chief Executive Officer, FIND Diagnostics
  • Developing Low-cost HIV Viral Load POC Diagnostic Test for the Developing World, David M. Kelso, Ph.D., Associate Professor, MCC Biomedical Engineering, Northwestern University

Written by Aman

March 27, 2007 at 5:06 am

Posted in Global Health

Documentary Film Festival

There is an interesting international documentary film festival taking place in North Carolina, April 12-15th. Here is the description of Full Frame: “Founded in 1998 by Nancy Buirski, and now recognized as the premier documentary film festival in the United States by both The New York Times and indieWIRE, the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival celebrates the power and artistry of documentary film. Full Frame’s four days include 100 screenings of both new and curated films.”

There are a handful of films focused on global health issues. Check out AJ Schnack’s blog for a full list of all the films:


Written by Aman

March 27, 2007 at 5:05 am

Posted in Global Health

Social Entrepreneurship New Book Alert

There are several things going on in this arena. First, a new book is coming out in May from Harvard. “Entrepreneurship in the Social Sector, coauthored by four Harvard Business School faculty, explains the critical components of this hybrid field known as social entrepreneurship. Readers will find a wealth of case studies that discuss U.S. and international settings as well as analysis of the latest research.”

Related to this topic is more discussion on defining social entrepreneurship (The Case for Definition). From a Stanford Social Innovation Review article: “Social entrepreneurship is attracting growing amounts of talent, money, and attention. But along with its increasing popularity has come less certainty about what exactly a social entrepreneur is and does.” Also check out the opinion and critiques of Kevin Jones,the School for SE, and GiftHub (where one comment stated this piece is “Martin and Osberg’s lullaby to elites”).

For another definitive voice, Charles Leadbeater who “helped popularise the term” back in his 1997 book has an article in a UK paper on SE.

Finally, don’t forget the 2007 Skoll World Forum is this week… skoll2007.jpg

Written by Aman

March 26, 2007 at 4:34 am

Learning from Failure: Great people alone do not guarantee success

Here is an article on the closure of a social venture fund in the Bay Area. It’s a shame it was not a more in depth autopsy:

SVP Bay Area was struggling after its fast and successful start in 2000. As executive director of SVP Seattle and founding president of Social Venture Partners International (of which SVP Bay Area was an affiliate), I was there to help the organization address its stagnating donor pool and ebbing morale. Over the next 18 months, the committed leaders of SVP Bay Area tried to revive the organization. They ultimately decided to let it close in early 2005. Recently I asked a few of the people who attended that breakfast why SVP Bay Area didn’t last for the long haul… Full story.

Written by Aman

March 25, 2007 at 6:21 pm

Posted in Global Health

Using GIS for Clean Water Maps in Africa

I couldn’t find much information or detail on this story, but wanted to note it for future reference:

Scientists and volunteers from Earthwatch have developed a comprehensive new Geographic Information Systems (GIS) database that will help local communities in the Samburu region of Kenya to manage their water supply and avert public health crises…Compiled over three years, the maps detail permanent and temporary water sources, including springs, rivers, pools and dams. They also include information about water quality and seasonal variability. “In this semi-arid region where people and wildlife compete for natural resources, the new GIS database has the potential to greatly improve access to clean drinking water”. Full article here.

Written by Aman

March 25, 2007 at 5:53 pm

Posted in ICT, Water

Event Recap by LDTC: Transforming Global Health

For this post we have partnered up with the folks at Little Devices that Could (LDTC), which is a fantastic blog. Jose from LDTC is one of the members of the Aerovax start up which was featured in Forbes Magazine last year. In a future post we will give more details on Aerovax and what the challenges are to inventing solutions for global health. Jose attended the “Transforming Global Health” meeting in Boston this past week.

From the Little Devices that Could blog:

This is the first in a more complete series of updates on the event held Tuesday night. I’m still getting past the sensory overload of the diverse projects that were discussed. Great LTDC stuff! We opted to go to TiE-Boston’s “Transforming Global Health” instead of MIT’s 100K Semifinal awards ceremony (tough choice for that night, so we’ll catch the webcast that included their Social Development Track).

Our friends at TiE hosted an evening with experts in public health, entrepreneurs, and scientists at Boston University’s School of Management. A well balanced panel and topics led to some great presentations that included:

  • A handful of microclinic business models to cover urban, periurban, and rural patients
  • An MGH led project that repurposes an automobile into an isolette for babies (my favorite)
  • Durable and locally manufacturable microfluidic diagnostic devices by the Klapperich Lab at BU
  • Need to catch up on your C-section skills? Try a few dry runs on a mother-baby simulator by the SIM Group at CIMIT thanks to advanced tissue engineering and software
  • A online telemedical consult service that lets doctors volunteer their time and expertise in far away places in as little as 30 minutes at a time.
  • A global pharma-sponsored set of research and aid programs to combat TB, malaria, and leprosy
  • Insightful discussion on the promise of leapfrogging technologies in global health, and attracting young innovators towards to the field

The panel included:
Gerald T Keusch, Associate Dean for Global Health, Boston University
Neil Ryder, PhD, Executive Director of Infectious Diseases, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research
Thomas Burke, MD, Director, Center for Global Health and Disaster Response, MGH
Brian Trelstad, CIO, Acumen Fund
Alexis Wallace, Executive Director, Medicine in Need
Vikram Sheel Kumar, MD, co-Founder, President and CEO, Dimagi

They were followed by a number of entrepreneurs active at the intersection of health, technology, and BOP opportunities.

Written by Aman

March 25, 2007 at 6:29 am

Posted in Global Health

Output Based Aid Vouchers in Uganda and elsewhere

Output based aid is often used to describe foreign assistance programs that link disbursement of aid to some measurable output. The Global Programme on OBA has some interesting efforts underway and others approved for eligibility.

I’ve been running an evaluation of an output-based aid project in western Uganda among private providers who offer diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). At this time, no HIV treatment is offered.  OBA voucher schemes can have one or more of four possible aims: contain costs, improve provider quality, stimulate utilization of selected services and target services to high-priority populations. Depending on how the program is set up, it may have a performance incentive built-in, it may use vouchers or credits for specific services, and it always has some mechanism in place, usually an enforceable contract, to ensure compliance.

The image above is of the OBA voucher currently in circulation in the Ugandan STIs project. The voucher concept is one of several strategies to deliver public goods and services to socio-economic, demographic or other groups identified as a priority by health policymakers. Examples include poor youth at high risk of HIV infection, women suffering from domestic violence, or administrative districts with high STI incidence. What makes the Uganda voucher project an output-based aid voucher project is the contract. The contract between STI treatment providers and the management agency, operating on behalf of the Uganda Ministry of Health, stipulates fee-for-service payments made conditional on the provider meeting certain performance standards.

OBA in health care has a limited history. Rwanda has recently expanded its OBA services [.pdf], Uganda and Kenya have KfW support for OBA, and Nicaragua used bonos (vouchers) in an output based reimbursement scheme targeting sex workers in Managua.  Similar  fee-for-service output were run nationally in South Korea and Taiwan with Population Council support in the late 1960s and 1970s.

Written by Ben

March 23, 2007 at 2:23 am

Google, Bottom of the Pyramid Markets and Global Health Solutions


I just read that Google is logging into rural India: “The latest company to seek a fortune in India’s rural markets is Google.” (3/21 news release).

You might ask what does this have to do with health? Well, on the surface, nothing. However, there are three significant reasons to pay attention to this. First, “bottom of the pyramid” (BOP) markets are all the rage right now, and Google’s most recent entry is significant, in part just because of who Google is and more interestingly because of who they are becoming. This coincides with the “Next 4 Billion” book release and if you haven’t heard about the BOP book launch, you would be remiss in not checking it out. BOP has strong implications/promise for healthcare delivery, as Kevin Jones from Xigi states: “half of BOP health care spending is on pharmaceuticals, much higher than in more affluent countries. This is especially the case in rural areas, where access to clinics is often limited.” It is too early to assess the impact, but for those of you unfamiliar, there is a growing drumbeat and unmistakable energy surrounding this concept. NextBillion, CTP and AIDG have all covered this watershed moment.

Second, Google is already in the health and development space. Most obviously they created, which is headed by Larry Brilliant (formerly of Seva). This is significant because Larry is not your run of the mill public health or public sector type guy. He is a physician and internet/technology entrepreneur who has a strong understanding of BOP markets as he was an integral partner with the non-profit Aravind Eye Care System (often mentioned as a success story by CK Prahalad in BOP discussions). For more information on Larry Brilliant’s colorful past, see Google’s Brilliant Philanthropist and for a more in-depth bio check out the “Epic Story of Larry Brilliant”.

Third, besides, Google Inc is now getting involved in the information and development game. This week they announced their purchase of Trendalyzer, the software used to power Gapminder which was made “famous” by international health professor – Hans Rosling. If you haven’t seen the application of this software, you are really missing out.

Not only have they purchased Trendalyzer, there also have been rumors for a while that Google is going to launch some sort of health portal or products targeted at domestic healthcare. See Google’s own blog post from Nov 2006 on this issue. On a related background note, for those who are not aware, all the major technology giants, Microsoft, Intel, IBM, etc. have already made formal forays into the health space.

The business and philanthropic products of Google suggest a strong convergence:

  • Google’s growing presence in India (the CEO has said it will be the internet’s #1 market) , as well as parts of Africa – this week they just inked a deal with Rwanda and Kenya
  • Focus on rural markets (news release above)
  • Rumored development of a mobile phone
  •’s mission to gather data on the ground (e.g. via SMS mobile) to inform outbreaks and create an early warning detection system

These together could offer a synergistic platform and suite of products for global health solutions. The Google founders have said that they hope that the Google Foundation ( one day eclipses Google Inc. They haven’t said if the above acquisitions and partnerships are strategically aligned with this vision, but these actions might indicate they really mean this.

I am not an expert on the pure philanthropic or internet technology side, but for more information on business and non-profit convergence and philanthropy in general I highly recommend the Philanthropy 2173 blog. Now all I have to do is get a job at Google to get the inside scoop.

Written by Aman

March 21, 2007 at 2:35 pm

World Bank and IFC Water Conversation

I thought it was worthwhile mentioning an ongoing conversation in the celebration of the World Water Day: “The Private Sector Development blog is running an online dialogue between the World Bank and the IFC on water issues. Corinne Figueredo, head of the Cleaner Technologies facility, is blogging on the IFC and Tracy Hart (water resource management expert) on the Bank’s side.” Thanks to the comment below from Chris, a World Bank PSD blogger for this information. For other water day related coverage, here is an interesting idea for those of us lucky enough to have access to water, a 40 hour simulated drought. Britt Bravo anb WaterWired also have informative posts.

Written by Aman

March 21, 2007 at 2:34 pm

Posted in Global Health, Water

GMOs Created to Battle Malaria

It has just been announced that a research group at Johns Hopkins has created a genetically engineered mosquito (genetically modified organism) that is malaria resistant. This is a significant achievement that is not without some major concerns and challenges ahead. There have been several groups that for over two decades have been trying to create transgenic mosquitoes, or mosquitoes that can be genetically modified. I happened to work in one of these labs as an undergrad and it was one of my first formal introductions to public health. At the time we would inject mosquito eggs with altered genes that would hopefully confer insecticide resistance. It might seem funny to try to create a super mosquito that could not be killed by insecticide, but it was a way to tell unambiguously if the newly introduced gene actually was engineered into the DNA of the new generation of mosquitoes. The idea was that if we could introduce a new gene into a mosquito that was inherited from generation to generation in a stable fashion that did not weaken reproductive capacity and longevity, eventually we could use this transgenic technology to introduce a malaria resistant gene. Then of course someone would have to figure out how to release this altered “animal species” into wild. It was not until 2000 that a group was successful at creating a GM/transgenic mosquito. From the group that was the first to do this:

“After 15 years of trying to create a transgenic mosquito we have taken a major step forward. This is not a cure for malaria, but we now have the key missing tool – our holy grail. The development of this technique is crucial for scientists studying the biology of the mosquito and its interactions with the malaria-causing parasite.” From: European scientists have created the world’s first transgenic malaria mosquito, June 2000.

Now the next step has been taken, a GM mosquito that also is malaria resistant (to non-human malaria) through 9 generations:

March, 19, 2007 “Working with the mouse form of malaria — not the human type — Rasgon’s team was able to genetically engineer mosquitoes that were resistant to malaria. Starting with the same number of resistant and nonresistant mosquitoes, they found that after nine generations the resistant type made up 70 percent of the population — raising the possibility of replacing regular mosquitoes with resistant ones that don’t spread disease. We’re not anywhere near a field release. Now we need to turn their attention to working with human malaria and trying to engineer a mosquito resistant to that.” Full Story.

Just as with GMOs there probably will be significant controversy of releasing populations of genetically engineered mosquitoes into the wild, however it is still worthwhile producing this technology because a multi-pronged approach against malaria is certainly needed and this research may yield other clues about neutralizing malarial parasites.

Written by Aman

March 20, 2007 at 5:50 am – TV for the Brain

foratv.jpgIn case you have not already heard of “”, check it out. “FORA” is a cool compendium of various events that you can watch online. From their website: “ delivers discourse, discussions and debates on the world’s most interesting political, social and cultural issues, and enables viewers to join the conversation. It provides deep, unfiltered content, tools for self-expression and a place for the interactive community to gather online…The San Francisco company has inked content deals with C-SPAN, the Brookings Institution, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Hoover Institution and the Cato Institute among others, as well as independent bookstores across the country.” Full story.

I did a search for health related content and unfortunately there does not seem to be an easy way to link or send a link for particular videos. It is great to browse and view, it would be even better if they figured out a user-friendly way to allow people to share/send their favorite videos.

Written by Aman

March 18, 2007 at 7:54 pm

Posted in Media

World Water Day


Just a reminder, World Water Day 2007 is coming up and on a related note, the magazine Strategy+Business has feature article on global infrastructure and the costs need to update our water, power and transportation systems. Upgrading water systems will require the bulk of the costs (see graphic below). From the article: “The world’s urban infrastructure needs a $40 trillion makeover. Here’s how to reinvigorate our electricity, water, and transportation systems by integrating finance, governance, technology, and design.” You can read it here.


Written by Aman

March 18, 2007 at 7:29 pm

Posted in Global Health

Donate computation time …on your PS3?

OK, so this is a bit of a public service announcement, but I just wanted to give a shout out to anyone with a computer that may be often idle. You know you’re the one if you’ve got a slick new machine and it basically serves as a fancy web browser and text editor with occasional number crunching during the dissertation or that last field report … Consider donating that down time to the World Community Grid.

The World Community Grid has been operating in its current form since November 2005 (you can read about the 2005 launch in the KaiserNetwork archives). They run a few extremely large research efforts on fundamental health science that require extremely large amounts of computer time. You can simply visit WCG, download the secure software, and you’re done. It runs in the background when you’re not using your machine and you contribute to research on genetics, cancer, and HIV. Something to consider anyway. And here’s a link for the kids explaining the science in computational grids.

The really interesting update, as reported in the Washington Post today, that Sony’s PS3 is getting involved in networked computing.

With the next software update for the game console, PS3 owners will be given an option to click an icon for Stanford’s “Folding@home” project and download software that the university has designed to help outsource the computing power of the game consoles (which are essentially computers) needed for some of its research.

The software will run “protein folding” simulations, which help researchers understand why proteins sometimes fold incorrectly and mutate into diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Each participating PS3 will periodically download and analyze a chunk of the school’s research, and then upload the results. The software, which is due at the end of the month, will run when the PS3 system is not playing games or performing other multimedia tasks.

Written by Ben

March 15, 2007 at 1:58 am

Transforming Global Health – Boston Event, March 20th

Please pass the following event onto your networks in the Boston Area and if you know anyone attending we would love to hear from them. Besides Event Alert, other websites with event info include NetImpact and CSR Wire.


Written by Aman

March 14, 2007 at 5:49 am

Open Architecture prize follows a long tradition

The IP Health listserv carried an interesting announcement today though far from unique when I searched a bit from Google and Technorati. There’s a new $250k prize in Architecture for development applications. The first winner was announced at the final day of the TED 2007 conference last week. Follows up nicely on the design movement captured in the book Design Like You Give a Damn also put out by Architecture for Humanity. IP Health also carried an interesting research note by Benjamin Krohmal at KEI. The short history of prizes provides an intriguing list of the brilliant and sometimes bizarre conundrums humanity set out to solve with cash incentives over the past 400 years. The Economist wrote at length about the topic in their March 1st issue too. Finally an interview on the project with Cameron Sinclair with several screen shots can be read at Inhabitat (an interesting site if you haven’t already checked it out). among many news outlets reported on the architecture prize:

SUNNYVALE, CALIF. — March 9, 2007 —Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NYSE: AMD) and Cameron Sinclair, winner of last year’s TED Prize and founder of Architecture for Humanity, today announced the first ever Open Architecture Prize at the annual TED Conference. The $250,000 Open Architecture Prize is the largest prize in the field of architecture and is designed to be a multi-year program that will draw competition from design teams around the world. Each year, a winning design will be selected from a field of low-cost, sustainable design projects and built in a selected community. The first project for the Open Architecture Prize will be an “e-community center,” a centralized building equipped with internet connectivity solutions designed to enable an entire community to access the transformative power of the Internet. The winning designs will be built as part of the prize and in alignment with the 50×15 Initiative, a program founded by AMD to connect 50 percent of the world’s population to the Internet by 2015.

“The Open Architecture Prize delivers on Architecture for Humanity’s vision of encouraging collaboration and challenging designers to reach beyond the traditional bounds of architecture to develop innovative solutions that improve global living conditions,” said Dan Shine, director of the 50×15 Initiative, AMD. “The creative designs developed in this competition will contribute to the 50×15 Initiative’s ambitious goal of connecting 50 percent of the world’s population to the Internet by 2015.”…

About 50×15
The 50×15 Initiative, launched by AMD in 2004 at the World Economic Forum, is a far-reaching effort to develop new technology and solutions that will help enable affordable Internet access and computing capability for 50 percent of the world’s population by the year 2015. More than just goodwill, 50×15 is about fostering long-term economic progress and investment within high-growth markets in ways that benefit a wide range of people and businesses. For more information, visit www.50×

About Architecture for Humanity
Architecture for Humanity is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that seeks architectural solutions to humanitarian crises and provides design services to communities in need. Currently it involved in the reconstruction of homes on the Gulf Coast, rebuilding after the South Asia Tsunami and the construction of healthcare facilities in Sub-Saharan Africa. For more information, please visit

About the Open Architecture Network
The Open Architecture Network is an online, open source community dedicated to improving living conditions through innovative and sustainable design. For more information please visit:

Written by Ben

March 13, 2007 at 12:47 pm

Malaria TV: Low Cost, Collaborative Diagnostics

A couple of researchers at the University of Toronto have come up with remote diagnostic tool – Malaria TV – that they funded out of their own pocket. It seems a fair amount of infrastructure is needed, but this set up allows for remote diagnosing for various diseases which I am guessing will be restricted to mostly urban areas in developing countries. I am curious what the bandwidth requirement is on the either end. One positive is that this is another tool that can be utilized and can hopefully slightly mitigate the healthcare worker shortage in developing regions:

“Malaria TV, designed by three researchers at the University of Toronto’s Laboratory for Collaborative Diagnostics (LCD), can be cobbled together from a bunch of everyday tech tools. The Malaria TV project is an example of how public health tools can be designed, developed and delivered using: 1) collaboration technologies like Access Grid; 2) commodity or cheap computation gear and 3) generic public health lab microscopes and CCD cameras.”

“The newly developed system can enable remote detection of HIV and tuberculosis and more importantly will allow a diagnostician to view in real time the blood sample of a patient in another part of the country or the world. Using cheap, readily available components and open source software, West Suhanic, executive director and an IT consultant, and Peter Pennefather, a professor of pharmaceutical science and the lab’s academic director, have built a prototype diagnosis tool. The equipment is basically a jury-rigged piece of hardware consisting of a PC that can capture images from any medical microscope using a TV tuner card and broadcast them over an Internet connection. A doctor in one city who isn’t sure if the sample he or she is looking at is actually malaria can consult with someone like Crandall for an expert diagnosis.”

“Suhanic added that “we’re just trying to develop all of our tools around open source” in order to keep costs down and allow anyone in the world to use it without having to worry about using proprietary technology or software licensing issues. He says Malaria TV is an example of commodity engineering, in that specific components used to create the system are accessible pretty much anywhere: a generic PC, some form of network connectivity, a microscope and a digital camera.” Full Story.


Written by Aman

March 12, 2007 at 9:12 pm

Harvard 2007 Social Enterprise Conference Round-up

There hasn’t been that much news on the Harvard conference, in fact I could not find a single news story covering it. So I thought I would list the people who have blogged about the conference:

Capitalism4Good discusses the keynotes and the “Pitch for Change”. The other very cool item from this blog is “a new website and email service called EventAlert, designed to provide a monthly summary of upcoming CSR-related conferences and other events.”

Mozilla Seth was a judge for the “Pitch for Change”competition, 2 of the 3 winners were health related ventures. For a judge’s perspective see his post.

Changing the Pyramid has nice overview from the conference and some interesting observations about conference demographics in terms of discipline. I highly recommend this blog.

AIDG, One of our favorites has two great posts. One covers a panel entitled – Making People Care. Cat also has a detailed review on the morning keynote by Victoria Hale and her efforts to bring drugs for neglected diseases to market. There is a r nice breakdown of Dr. Hale’s advice to starting up your own venture.

SharingWitness has more details on Victoria Hale’s keynote, see “New Medicines for the Poor“.

Marc Gunther was a panelist on the CSR and Climate Change panel. He currently writes for Fortune Magazine and is the author of “Faith and Fortune: How Compassionate Capitalism Is Transforming American Business”.

TreeHugger has a very basic overview, maybe there will be more to come.

The Inspired Economy blog has a post not on the Harvard conference, but another upcoming Boston conference on water and environmental issues, check out the info on the Advancing Sustainable Prosperity Ceres conference.

Written by Aman

March 8, 2007 at 6:23 am


First congrats to the folks at “Little Devices that Could”, their organization, Aerovax, was nominated for the prestigious Tech Museum Awards. You should definitely check out their site. I am under water right now and would love to post in more depth about several of the following links, but that is not going to happen, so a link drop will have to suffice. Enjoy:

  • What a U.N. Partnership with Big Business Could Accomplish“, HBS, Link
    • For a review of the recent UN Silicon Valley meeting check out NextBillion, Link
    • And related to the high tech/ICT industry, Amartya Sen on ICT for good, Link
  • New book out on foundations: “How Private Wealth is Changing the WorldLink
  • Tactile Philanthropy has an interesting post on the impact of the Private/For-Profit sector on Non-Profits, quote “Market based solutions are great when they are appropriate, but they aren’t always appropriate.” Link
  • Purdue to show low-cost AIDS-testing technology to African officials, Link…”The current cost for CD4 tests per patient in Africa is about $10…We can build a device that will reduce the cost for CD4 tests to 50 or 25 cents.”
  • A list of new technologies for the developing world (via LittleDevices), Link
  • Technology from the U of Delaware removes viruses from water, significant because viruses are the “smallest of pathogens”, Link
  • GlobaLab on the new “revolutionary product to treat malaria” – the launch of ASAQ, a $1 drug Link
  • Social enterprise podcasts and downloads, Link
  • Italy : ‘Go-India’ Fund for SMEs – $600 Million Fund, Link
  • Female Entrepreneurship in Developing Countries, purchase req’d, Link
  • CDC and Second Life: There is a debate on the internal CDC message boards on CDC and SL, Link… For those who don’t believe in Second Life, the Amercian Cancer Society raised $40,000 (real money). More detail on CDC in SL, check out the pictures here and check out the Social Marketing blog.
  • On the media front, “The Blood of Yingzhou District”, a Chinese AIDS film won the Academy Awards for best documentary, Link
  • “Forget Davos, I am booked for TED”, Business Week, Link
    Michael Schrage, co-director of the MIT Media, no longer attends TED because he is worried about bumping into Angelina Jolie there, she and TED are apparently not good enough for him, read the article.
  • Setting up a “low” cost health information system in Spain, Microsoft Blog, Link
  • Low tech solution for preventing airborne disease– open the window! Link
  • Building Capacity – S.African Scientists Train In Latest Drug Discovery Techniques At Emory University, Link
  • Netherlands provides health insurance for 115,000 Nigerians, via Sociolingo
  • Final, random link of the day – Want to see what 60,000 plastic bags looks like? That is the number used in the US every five seconds. Link

Written by Aman

March 6, 2007 at 7:07 am

Condom Applicator: The Most Beautiful Object In South Africa 2007 Award

The annual Design Indaba Expo in S.Africa was a couple of weeks ago and this condom applicator was a winner.

“The condom applicator has been described by Design Indaba Expo curator Bernard George Smith as one of those rare products that bridges the divide between social, cultural, economic and international barriers by solving a problem common to all. (it is) a small product that could have one of the biggest impacts on our social, cultural and economic future…It has taken years of work to develop this product…The retail price is R28-R30 for a package of three condoms and applicators.” (Link) See Dezeen Magazine for links to the video demonstration.


Thanks to Cat at AIDG for sending this story in, she saw this over at Boing Boing; Gizmodo and Dezeen Mag have also covered this. I am wondering about the usability and cost of this item and if they actually have done user testing on the product. We definitely need new ideas out there and I am curious if people will actually buy and use this. Any opinions on that?

The firm XYZ has also been involved in other design for development projects (link). They have this infant eye tester also: “Infant Eye testing carried out in rural settings requires flexible, durable and innovative design. The Eyeaware achieves this by reducing the component count from ten to two parts, which allow each eye to be tested with one of three lenses whilst the other is being shielded.”


Written by Aman

March 5, 2007 at 7:08 am

SMS and Text Messaging for Health

Following on the announcement of the Voxiva $10 million Phones for Health program, I’ve pulled together other programs using text or SMS messaging to improve access to health care and health information in developing countries.

There has been a lot of hope for cell phone technologies for a number of years now. Warren Kaplan’s paper helps bring to light some of the challenges and points to the need for more rigorous evaluation of these programs.

Below are a few services used in developing and developed countries. If you’ve used any of these or others, what’s your experience?

Written by Justin

March 1, 2007 at 5:15 pm