Archive for the ‘Innovation’ Category
Very early fascinating research, which will hopefully be developed further. This is not a top 10 list you want to be on, but considering the global burden of disease projections for 2020 include depression (#3) and war (#8) in the top 10 contributors to disability, greater understanding of the mind and brain function is desperately needed. Additionally, considering mental health is such a complex and difficult issue, it’s great to see potential innovation in this area. Source: BBC News
Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to view a PhotoVoice exhibition at the University of California, Berkeley organized by Haath Mein Sehat (HMS), a group working to improve access to clean water and sanitation in six slums of Hubballi and Mumbai, including Dharavi.
It was exciting to see a group effectively blend the advocacy elements of PhotoVoice with the design elements of cultural probes. The difference between the two approaches is less in the methods and more in the use of the outputs. In this case, they organized the exhibition to raise awareness and break down stereotypes of slum life, and they are using the photographic corpus to guide the design of both programs and technologies related to their core mission.
What I was most interested in from a design perspective were the instructions given to community photographers and how this tied back to the mission of HMS. The results below followed from the simple prompt: “Represent your daily experience with water”.
I was just sent this information (thanks to Becky!) about a new round of funding for microbicides, which comes on the heels of promising results from a trial of the PRO2000 microbicide candidate. We covered this a couple of years ago and at the time I said – the potential of this drug is revolutionary. With microbicides there was great excitement and hope, then there was failure and now there is some maturity. Okay, maybe I am overstating the case, the take home point is that we still don’t have a product and this is not cheap, easy, or quick. Developing a drug is complicated, involves huge risk, can take decades and is highly uncertain. Let’s review the drug development time line again for those of you not familiar – the graph below gives the most simplistic picture:
The early microbicide discussions took place almost 15 years ago (International Working Group on Vaginal Microbicides, source). Over half that amount of time, from 2000-2007, $1.1 Billion has already been invested in microbicide R&D! It takes anywhere from $200M to $1 Billion to bring a single novel drug to market. Let’s hope one of these compounds works and makes it through phase III. But how much will we have spent? $2 Billion, $3 billion? If it works, it will have been worth the money, however, we must ask if we took the most efficient financial route to get to the end point and if there were better financial models – that is a valid question.
Ashoka’s Changemakers along with RWJF is sponsoring a very cool competition – “Nudges” – read below for details and please pass along (thanks to Roberto for sending). The competition was named after Cass Suntein’s book Nudge, Cass has been asked to join the Obama administration. In addition to checking out the competition link below, see the RWJF Pioneer Blog which I follow. The “Nudge” competition is about the little reminders, notifications, and encouragements towards action. With health, behavior change is one of the hardest things to impact and we haven’t been very good about designing or focusing on subtle pushes which are fundamentally critical to health care. While I could name quite a few innovative ideas we have covered on this blog, one that comes instantly to mind is the teachAIDS animation created by Piya Sorcar (it’s got technology, education and behavioral impact components). I am looking forward to seeing what innovations this competition yields.
Designing for Better Health Competition
Ashoka’s Changemakers is collaborating with the Pioneer Portfolio of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to launch a global search for “nudges” – innovative little pushes – that help people make better decisions regarding their own health and the health of others.
We are inspired by people and organizations like the Destiny Health Plan that provides “vitality bucks,” an alternative currency that allows people to earn travel and shopping rewards every time they make healthy choices. Another motivating example is CARES, an anti-smoking and savings program in the Philippines that offers smokers the option to invest the money they would normally spend on cigarettes into a savings account. “Designing for Better Health” is investing in the most valuable of all resources – people themselves. Here are the many ways in which you can participate:
Do you know innovators who work to help people make choices that improve their health? By nominating them, you will provide them the opportunity to promote their projects on a global platform and get connected with potential funding.
I was recently contacted by a non-profit organization based in Washington D.C called International Action (IA) to help them raise awareness about the problems they are tackling in Haiti. IA installs water treatment systems in Port-au-Prince, Haiti using chlorinators. Chlorniators, according to IA, are very cheap, simple, easy to install and maintain. It would be interesting to see how this method stacks up against other water sanitation efforts in terms of costs & financing, logistics, sustainability, adoption/use and impact.
Haiti Innovation recently profiled IA: “At the end of five years, IA aims to have installed 500 chlorinators covering most of the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, giving clean water for the first time to 2.5 million people.” You can view some of the locations IA is working in with their nifty Google maps mashup:
Below is a guest post from Amelie over at IA:
Guest Post by International Action
Among 147 countries Haiti scores last on the water poverty index scale according to the World Water Council (WWC). This means that Haiti is the country with the worst access to clean water in the world.
In fact, most water sources in Haiti are contaminated with human waste and disease. The result is a tragedy. Haiti has the highest infant mortality rate in the Western Hemisphere and this is due to preventable waterborne diseases such as chronic diarrhea, typhoid and hepatitis.
International Action, a Washington D.C based non-profit installs water treatment systems called chlorinators on top of local public water tanks. They now protect more than 450,000 Haitians with clean, safe drinking water in 23 of the poorest neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince.
International Action’s special tablet chlorinators are easy to install, use and maintain, they do not require electricity and therefore they are ideal for the developing world. The system is simple: 10% of the water runs through the device, dilutes the chlorine tablets and mixes it with the rest of the water in the tank. The chlorine levels are safe, pre-set and regularly tested. A chlorinator can provide clean water for up to 10,000 people for the smaller model LF1500 and 50,000 for the larger one LF2000.
The biggest installation in Jalousie supplies a community of 50,000. The local hospital has instantly noticed a reduction in the cases of waterborne diseases which they must treat. Analyses of the water have shown that germs of typhoid, cholera and hepatitis are no longer present in Jalousie’s water; waterborne diseases have virtually disappeared in the communities which have the chlorinators installed.
During the month of December, International Action has installed 6 new chlorinators in the neighborhood of Delmas 30. The population is thrilled because although they receive water from CAMEP — Independent Metropolitan Water Company — four days a week, they do not drink it because it is contaminated. In early December, CAMEP called International Action for help. 50,000 more Haitians are now protected with clean, safe drinking water provided by International Action.
For more information visit our website at www.haitiwater.org
Two recent awards were given out in the area of technology for humanity. The first was a generic “best of 2008” in technology PopSci award. It was great to see PopSci pick a technology for developing countries as one of their top products, the CellScope, which we covered in a post on mobile phones for global health (hat tip BOPreneur). Additionally there was the annual Tech Museum awards which you can read more about over at CNET (the Star Syringe was their health awardee).