Global Health Ideas

Finding global health solutions through innovation and technology

Archive for June 2007

A new weapon in the race for better drugs

Old Drugs In, New Ones Out

This is an interesting article about a new class of biotechnology startups that are using new combination techniques and specialized ICT solutions to identify new drugs out of old ones.

Can an antipsychotic drug from the 1950s be paired with a 1980s antibiotic to shrink 21st-century tumors? Might an anticlotting drug help a steroid relieve arthritis? How about a cholesterol treatment and a pain reliever teaming up to tame diabetes?


Written by Mahad Ibrahim

June 30, 2007 at 3:17 pm

Posted in Global Health

Thought for the weekend

“A human being is born into this world fully equipped not only to take care of him or herself, but also to contribute to enlarging the well being of the world as a whole. Some get the chance to explore their potential to some degree, but many others never get any opportunity, during their lifetime, to unwrap the wonderful gift they were born with. They die unexplored and the world remains deprived of their creativity, and their contribution.” Full speech.

– Muhammad Yunus
The Nobel Peace Prize 2006

Written by Aman

June 29, 2007 at 11:11 am

Posted in Food for thought

Changemakers Global Health Competition – July 18th Deadline!

This is a fantastic competition that is being co-sponsored by Changemakers and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). There is an initial award available for $5000 to anyone anywhere in the world and another $5 million up for grabs if you are a US based organization.

Please send this on to your networks.

Disruptive Innovations in Health
Changemakers is looking for entrepreneurs both within and outside of the health care field with ideas for new products, services, technologies, business models that enable consumers to manage health and receive care in ways that are more affordable, accessible, simple and convenient.

The unique competition model attracts solutions from social entrepreneurs from around the globe. Innovators submit their ideas and the Changemakers online community provides feedback on the problem and proposed solutions throughout the competition. This interactive process is designed not only to catalyze action on important issues but also to connect participants’ solutions with key decision-makers, investors, and health and social service providers.

Changemakers global network will select three winners from anywhere in the world—each of whom will receive a $5,000 cash prize. In addition, RWJF’s Pioneer Portfolio will review competition entries and may award up to $5 million to support projects (restricted to U.S. organizations) that show potential to go to scale.

Written by Aman

June 29, 2007 at 8:01 am

Posted in Global Health

GapCast Debut: More Hans Rosling videos!

Hans Rosling has developed his first GapCast video with more on the way. This has me salivating after watching his TED speech using Gapminder software he helped develop and which was recently bought by Google (for related info to this, see our previous post on Google). Many people have seen the TED video, if you have not seen it, it is an absolute must watch (first video below). For those of you who have seen it, see him debut a new series with GapCast #1 – which is not as dramatic as the TED speech, but does demonstrate the power of his delivery and the software. We need more people to think like Hans – how can we get our message across in a different format, in a format that excites people, in a format they will not forget. The TED video is 20 minutes long, but it is worth it. Really great stuff:


Written by Aman

June 25, 2007 at 7:17 am

Blogroll update…Global Health Journalism

I would like to note the addition of two fantastic blogs to our blogroll. The first, is SmallShift – “a blog built around the belief that technology in the hands of passionate users can inspire change…”

The second is Global Health Report, by the prolific science and medical writer – Christine Gorman. She will be a Nieman Foundation Fellow at Harvard where she will focus on global health media issues. Christine Gorman has written on health and medical topics for over two decades and has been at TIME Magazine since the mid 1980s where she had an award winning column (“Your Health”). In addition to her numerous other awards she wrote the 1996 TIME person of the year issue on AIDS expert David Ho. It is great to get a couple more outstanding voices in the lonely global health blogosphere.

On that note, I highly recommend reading Gorman’s speech at the Global Health Council on getting more involved and global health journalism. You can view her speech on her blog and see other coverage at Forum One. Enjoy!

Written by Aman

June 24, 2007 at 8:52 pm

Improved patient drug compliance using SMS

This idea has been mentioned a lot, but I just ran across Computainer on a Uganda listserv.  CompuTainer recently announced SIMmed at the 3rd South African AIDS Conference. The technology uses SMS and USSD messaging to track and monitor patient compliance in taking chronic medication such as TB medication, ARV medication, Diabetic medication, Cardio medication and other chronic medication.

With 47% of patients simply forgetting to take medication and a further 33% not taking medication because they feel well we find an issue in medication compliance. With the ongoing struggle against drug resistant strains the introduction of SIMmed has resolved compliance issues.

I don’t have a copy of the report, but according to the listserv posting, in a recently completed trial in TB clinics in South Africa the compliance ratios were raised from between 20% and 60% to a staggering 85% to 93%. Cure rates were raised from a dismal 65% to above 91%.

The info on the SIMpill is copied here:

A pill bottle which, when opened, delivers an SMS text message to a central server. The SMS contains a unique pill box ID number as well as some information about the battery status of the pill box. Each SMS is time stamped. The central server receives the incoming SMS and, if it is within the time tolerances set for the pill box sending the message is simply stored for statistical purposes.

Written by Ben

June 22, 2007 at 6:15 am

Low-cost zero emission lighting

Following up an earlier post on solar flashlights, I wanted to post this piece on a couple of light and solar devices in development. Check out the d.light forever-bright and Solar-in-a-Box system covered in the Launch Silicon Valley press release. Working from Mbarara now with intermittent power in the evening, the need for alternative power and lighting is, ah, blindingly obvious.

Sam Goldman and Ned Tozun, both second-year Stanford MBAs and co-founders of startup D. Light Design, want to eliminate the use of kerosene lanterns in developing countries with a product called Forever-Bright.  The product’s working prototype is a white box about half the size of a loaf of bread with bright LEDs for interior home lighting and hookups to charge cell phones and power radios. The device can be charged with solar photovoltaic cells, or, for villagers capable of traveling to grid-connected power sources, they can charge the device and bring it back to their homes…

Installing residential solar power systems is too expensive, says Meredith McClintock, CEO of Petaluma-based ReadySolar, and her small startup wants to change that.  Solar power, installed, currently costs around $10/watt. Approximately half of that expense is related to the cost of professional installation, says McClintock.

ReadySolar believes it can eliminate 30 to 50 percent of the installed cost with its Solar-in-a-Box systems, which come prepackaged and, the company claims, install more easily and cheaply than competing systems from big photovoltaic (PV)
installers such as Akeena Systems or Solar City.

Written by Ben

June 20, 2007 at 9:01 am

Posted in Global Health