Global Health Ideas

Finding global health solutions through innovation and technology

Archive for the ‘Conferences’ Category

CATER NYU Workshop on Technologies for Humanity (April 10)

I’ll be in New York attending the health portion of the following workshop. Please pass the word and if you are around and want to meet up send us an email (thdblog AT gmail).

“The CATER research group cordially invites you to attend the 2009 workshop on “Technologies for Development” which showcases our ongoing research efforts in the space of appropriate technologies that aid development in under-developed areas around the world.

Cost-Effective Appropriate Technologies for Emerging Regions (CATER) is a new multidisciplinary research initiative at NYU that focuses on developing appropriate, low-cost Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for addressing pressing problems in developing regions. CATER is a joint initiative comprising faculty from Computer Science, the School of Medicine, the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, NYU’s Economics Department, and NYU-Polytechnic.

This workshop will feature a combination of invited talks from accomplished researchers and short talks by student researchers within
CATER on their ongoing research efforts. The talks will cover four important areas:”

·         Technologies for improving access to communications in rural areas
·         Technologies for enhancing rural healthcare
·         Technologies for enhancing financial and commerce services
·         Technologies for enhancing rural education



Written by Aman

March 18, 2009 at 8:16 pm

Join Us! Online Chat: OBA and Vouchers in Kenya and Uganda

On March 19th I will be participating in an online conversation about output-based aid hosted by PSP-One. Output-based aid (OBA) financially empowers patients to make choices about where they receive their healthcare and incentivizes providers to deliver high quality services. The management of OBA systems builds institutional capacity to provide cost-effective care to targeted populations. However, OBA is by no means a panacea to what ails health systems in low-income countries. Join in on the discussion to find out more! Once again it is March 19th:

9:30 am Eastern (United States)
1:30 pm (13:30) Greenwich Mean Time
2:30 pm West Africa Time Zone
3:30 pm Central Africa Time Zone
4:30 pm East Africa Time Zone

If you would like to receive details about the chat or would like to suggest questions for discussion, please email the organizers at: You will need to register beforehand on the Network for Africa. Registration takes 30 seconds at the following link:


Written by Ben

March 12, 2009 at 6:00 pm

“Innovating for the Health of All” open for registration (Havana, November 2009)

Forum 2009
Innovating for the health of all
Innovando para la salud de todos
Havana, Cuba, 16-20 November 2009

Registration here

The letter:

Dear colleague,

Forum 2009: Innovating for the Health of All is this year’s milestone event in research and innovation for health. Organized by the Global Forum for Health Research, it will take place from 16-20 November in Havana, Cuba, at the invitation of the Ministry of Public Health.

What exactly is “innovation”?* How can decision-makers and practitioners work together to foster innovation for health and health equity? What can we learn from innovation policies and initiatives around the world? These questions will be answered in Forum 2009‘s interwoven discussions of social innovation and technological innovation.

This event will bring together some 800 leaders and experts from around the world to share ideas and forge new partnerships. It will include a unique mix of stakeholders from health and science ministries, research agencies and institutions, development agencies, foundations, nongovernmental organizations, civil society, the private sector and media.

As you expand your networks, you will also be able to learn from discussions on social entrepreneurship for health, public-private product development for neglected diseases, eHealth, knowledge-translation platforms, national health innovation systems, donor-country harmonization and coherence, and innovative financing strategies.

With the theme “innovation,” we are challenged to be innovative in the programme itself including new session formats that are more interactive, new ways to network and share information, and new opportunities for inclusion.

So please join us. Registration is now open on We very much look forward to seeing you in Cuba.

Yours sincerely,
Professor Stephen Matlin
Executive Director
Global Forum for Health Research

Arab Healthcare Delivery

Guest post by Khizer Husain, Owner of Shifa Consulting (see also previous post on healthcare in the Emirates)

Three Observations in Arab Healthcare Delivery

I attended the 34th annual Arab Health Congress in Dubai last week. This is the largest regional conference on healthcare. The event was massive: it drew more than 50,000 visitors and 2,300 exhibitors which span all facets of healthcare including care delivery, technology, consulting, staffing. According to the medical director in Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, ‘Our institution looks forward every year to Arab Health as a means of reviewing the latest technology; networking with suppliers and vendors and to update medical knowledge. The increased participation and attendance at Arab Health is of value to all of us in the healthcare field.’ Here are some observations on the delivery of healthcare in this part of the world:

Economic Downturn Putting Projects on Hold

The global financial meltdown has not spared the Middle East and the UAE in particular. There are many sites that are empty pits with cranes standing idle. Hospitals have put on ice new expansion plans. Overall, it is estimated that 8% of the labor force in Dubai has left the country in the last four months due to the worsening economic climate. I heard a couple of people talk about the thousands of cars that were left abandoned at the Dubai airport as people could not pay their loans and thought it best to flee the country. Up until last year, healthcare expenditures in the region were growing 16% per year and exceeding $74B.

The silver lining here is that global steel prices are down 75% and smaller construction projects at well-capitalized institutions can for the first time gain traction. A notable exception to the economic dip is Qatar. According to, Qatar’s economy ( could grow 10% in 2009 as it expands exports of liquefied natural gas, making it the world’s fastest growing economy.

Thirst for World-class Standard of Healthcare

There is a strong desire in the Gulf to catch up to the healthcare levels of the industrialized world. Until just a few years ago, the only way to bridge the gap between what national populations desired and what was offered in their native countries, was to open the doors (wide open) to medical tourism. The UAE reportedly spent over $2B per year to ship its citizens to foreign countries for medical treatment. Not only were these expenditures unsustainable, but they put these countries at a competitive disadvantage for recruiting highly skilled expatriates. The only way to turn down the medical tourism spigot was to invest locally in building healthcare expertise. Due to poor perceived quality in local healthcare, stymied access to care, and perverse financial incentives to go abroad for care, medical tourism is still a powerful force.

Enter Multinational Healthcare Corporations

The landscape for international healthcare providers with business in the Middle East is becoming increasing crowded with the major players hailing from the US, Europe, and Canada. There seem to a few dominant models:

a. Market Destination Hospital: A number of institutions have outposts in the Middle East that they use to run clinics and make the necessary arrangements to funnel patients to the flagship entities. Mayo, Washington Hospital Center, University of Chicago follow this model. The Great Ormand Street Hospital in London sends in a rotational team of pediatric specialists to run clinics close to the patients.

b. Secure Management Contract: This is where the cash is. Running a tertiary hospital in the UAE can yield $6M per annum. The big players in this sector include Cleveland Clinic—which runs Sheikh Khalifa Medical City and will run the new Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi when it finishes in a few years. Johns Hopkins International has three affiliate hospitals in the UAE and a hospital in Beirut. UPMC runs the gamut of managing whole hospitals to managing individual departments like the emergency room. The Methodist has teamed up with property development company Emaar to create an outpatient clinic which they will manage—the Burj Medical Centre. Emaar has aggressive plans to expand clinics and hospitals throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

c. Joint Venture: South African Mediclinic obtained ownership share of Emirates Healthcare in 2007 for $53M. With two hospitals and three clinics in the pipeline, they are the largest private provider of healthcare in Dubai. Mediclinic derives nearly half of its profits from overseas ventures (in the Middle East and beyond).

While it is quite exciting to see all this development in healthcare, everyone agrees that the only way to have real, sustainable progress in region is to build an army of indigenous healthcare workers. Unfortunately, the curse of petrodollars is that it leaves little incentive for nationals to aspire to become nurses and doctors, let alone outstanding clinical managers. In the meantime, India and the Philippines serve as the golden geese.

Written by Guest Contributor

February 4, 2009 at 7:59 pm

Global Health Council 2009: New Technologies + Proven Strategies = Healthy Communities

The Global Health Council has released the theme for their 2009 conference to be held in Washington, DC: “New Technologies + Proven Strategies = Healthy Communities”.  I’ve been helping them with development of their CFP over the summer months – the focus is largely on ICT, but there is consideration given to other technologies also.  This is an applied conference with significant international representation.  In terms of a broad global health meeting, this is the best I’ve attended.

Written by Jaspal

September 2, 2008 at 2:30 pm

A Massive Wave of Chronic Disease in China and India

When most people think of global health they think of infectious diseases and all of the associated images this conjures up (and it is harder to capture provocative images of chronic diseases). However, as we have empahsized before, developing countries are facing a dual burden of both chronic and infectious diseases.


This past Tuesday I was privileged enough to attend the launch of the new Health Affairs issue on global health in China and India. I was joined by an esteemed panel of guests who gave great presentations about various issues facing these two nations. Unfortunately I don’t have time to summarize all of their talks but encourage you to read them in the latest issue. I want to focus on Dr. Somnath Chatterji’s paper because the projections of the aging of China and India are quite stunning and the associated social and economic implications will be profound.


Somnath Chatterji runs the WHO’s Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health (SAGE). Here are some highlights from his paper and quotes I picked up (these are based on my hand written notes, so please forgive any factual mistakes):



The pace of change is stunning – what took 100 years in France (the graying of the population) is going to take place in 30 years in China/India (I can’t remember which one he specified). “Aging has been on the backburner…but China and India are facing dramatic demographic shifts in very short periods of time”.


By 2030, 65.6 percent of the Chinese and 45.4 percent of the Indian health burden are projected to be borne by older adults.


By 2019 in China and 2042 in India, the proportion of people age sixty and older will exceed that of people ages 0–14.


Within the next 20 years there will be 42 million diabetics in China and 80 Million in India.


“In four decades 40% of the worlds elderly population will be in China and India…these countries are getting older before they get richer”.


“Traditionally, people think of chronic diseases as diseases of the of the rich, this is probably not going to be true for China and India…we really need longitudinal data to track this”.



There are dozens of issues that come to mind when hearing these projections, some of which include – access, who will get access to care? how will the delivery system be set up for this? where will the focus be (primary care?)? how will this be financed at both health system level and a household level – how much payment will be borne by the patient? can we use capacity developed for tackling infectious diseases for chronic diseases (a very different ballgame in some ways)? what will be the role of the private sector? if the private sector gets involved heavily to sell their drugs and devices in this  new “market” – will that lead to better infrastructure for delivery and distribution of medical supplies? how will this impact the economic growth of these countries? There are many more pressing questions, but I will stop here.


Another one of the articles in this global health issue is on obesity in China. This paper is authored by one of world’s leading experts in nutrition (Barry Popkin). We covered some of this before in a recent issue of Scientific American and here is the link for the new paper. Kudos to Health Affairs for the issue and to Burness Communications for a well run launch.

Global Health Video Makes Top 10 TED List

Everyone I have spoken to loves TED videos. If you aren’t familiar with TED, you are missing out. The Technology Entertainment and Design (there is that word again! see Jaspal’s work in the area of global health design) outfit gathers some of the best people in their respective fields to share ideas . While their annual conference is extremely exclusive, they do post their videos online. The tag line: Inspired talks by the world’s greatest thinkers and doers. TED just posted on the their top 10 videos in the past 2 years. On first glance I found 2 things remarkable about this list:

1. These videos have over 50 Million views (amazing)!

2. There is a global/public health video in the top 10, debuting at number 7

The numbers clearly display a strong appetite for for this kind of work – work that is innovative, connects and sometimes has great impact on the social good. What’s more – global health issues can garner a lot of attention and people do care about it (translation, there are ways to make it sexy and appealing). I would be very curious to get a age based demographic breakdown of who is watching these videos, specifically I want to see if there is a generational breakdown. The public health video has made its rounds and we did discuss it here at THD (I have posted it below again). From TED:

Announcing the Top 10 TEDTalks

“With 50 million views since we started posting video two years ago, TEDTalks have become a powerful cultural force. To celebrate this milestone, we’re releasing a never-before-seen list: the Top 10 TEDTalks of all time, as of June 2008.

With speakers like neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor and global health expert Hans Rosling, the list proves one of the compelling ideas behind TEDTalks: that an unknown speaker with a powerful idea can reach — and move — a global audience through the power of quality web video…”

Hans Rosling (well worth watching):

Written by Aman

July 7, 2008 at 2:04 am