Global Health Ideas

Finding global health solutions through innovation and technology

Archive for March 2007

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