Global Health Ideas

Finding global health solutions through innovation and technology

Archive for the ‘Requested post’ Category

Global Hunger Hearing and Rwanda’s MCH Week

I got a couple of requests to post two informative efforts. Note the Senate hearing tomorrow and the tie made to global food security. Second various agencies are linking up to administer 4 million anti-worm medication, that’s an impressive amount:

As a reminder, tomorrow, Tuesday, March 24th, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing entitled “Alleviating Global Hunger: Challenges and Opportunities for U.S. Leadership” at 9:30 a.m. in room 419 of the Dirksen Senate Building (AGENDA). The committee has invited Dan Glickman, former secretary of agriculture, and Catherine Bertini, former executive director of the World Food Program to testify at the hearing, offering their insight as co-chairs of a recent Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ report entitled “Renewing American Leadership in the Fight Against Global Hunger and Poverty:  The Chicago Initiative on Global Agricultural Development.”

Congress has recently recognized the importance of this global food security (2009 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill). This legislation mandated that $75 million in Development Assistance funding be spent “to enhance global food security, including for local or regional purchase and distribution of food, in addition to other funds otherwise made available for such purposes and notwithstanding any other provision of law.”


The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ Control Program Teams with Rwandan Government and International Organizations to Deworm More Than 4 Million Children Nationwide, Covering Nearly Half of the Country’s Population

NTD Prevalence Rates Up to 95% Among Rwandan School-Children

Over the course of the week-long initiative, representatives will administer albendazole to a targeted population of 4 million children under five, school-aged children, and post-partum women, to treat for soil-transmitted helminthes (STHs). Additionally, in the high prevalence areas, praziquantel will be administered to an estimated 100,000 people for schistosomiasis infection. The goal of the campaign is to treat all pre and school-aged children nationwide – covering approximately one-half of Rwanda ’s population.  Vitamin A, immunizations, family planning services and health education messages will also be delivered throughout the country during the course of the campaign.

Why: Research has shown that eliminating the burden of NTDs could lift millions out of poverty worldwide by ensuring children stay in school to learn and prosper and improving maternal and child health. NTDs infect over 400 million school-aged children throughout the developing world. Treating their infections is the single most cost-effective way to boost school attendance. Controlling intestinal worms alone will help to avoid 16 million cases of mental retardation and 200 million years of lost primary schooling

When: Tuesday, March 24th – Friday March 27th


Written by Aman

March 23, 2009 at 9:04 pm

Designing for Better Health Competition

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.


Written by Aman

January 28, 2009 at 9:27 pm

Health for All Blue Diamond Ball scheduled to celebrate Obama’s Inauguration

UPDATE: Dr. Paul Farmer, Dr. Jim Kim, jazz singer and UN Goodwill Ambassador Dee Dee Bridgewater are confirmed to be in attendance. That is quite a lineup.

This is a requested post (the info was sent to me to post). For those who are looking for more events during the blockbuster inauguration weekend/week and for those with some serious cash (serious at least for my blood), this certainly will be an interesting event:

WASHINGTON, DC January 9, 2009 – Event Emissary, a DC-based event planning company, and The Vineeta Foundation, a health and human rights organization, announced today that  in celebration of Barack Obama’s Inauguration, the Health for All Blue Diamond Ball will be held January 20, 2009 at the Smithsonian Institution’s Natural History Museum, home of the Hope Diamond.  American and international health-makers will gather to refocus attention on health as a human right as specified in the 60-year old United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Today in the United States, 45 million people don’t have medical insurance.  Around the world, billions are deprived of the basic human right to health. In December, asked its three-million members “What is the most important issue for the nation?” The survey concluded that Universal healthcare was the number one choice ahead of the war in Iraq and the economy.

The presidency of Barack Obama is a historic opportunity for reforming the health care system in the United States and strengthening support for health worldwide.  The Health for All Blue Diamond Ball supports Obama’s vision of change and will secure a prominent place for health on the presidential and legislative agenda by gathering powerful constituencies that passionately believe that health care is a human right.

Songwriter’s Hall of Fame inductee Jackson Browne and GRAMMY-winner Graham Nash—both also members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame—will headline the event. In addition to their enduring legacies as two of the most literate and respected singer-songwriters in contemporary music, Browne and Nash are both known for the social, environmental and political activism they have championed for almost four decades. In 1979, they collaborated on organizing an all-star series of concerts for MUSE (Musicians United for Safe Energy); in 2004, they both participated in the Vote For Change tour. With the Health For All Blue Diamond Ball, they continue their tradition of raising their voices in support of people across the United States and around the world.

Radia Daoussi, President of The Vineeta Foundation, explains, “A true transformation of the health care system in the United States has never been such an urgent priority.  The presidency of Barack Obama offers an historic opportunity for reforming the health care system in the United States and strengthening support for health worldwide”.

Daoussi continued, “In addition to fabulous entertainment, our program will feature many speakers committed to health for all such as: US Congressman John Conyers, Michel Sidibe Executive Director of UNAIDS, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director NIAID, NIH; Helene Gayle, President of CARE, Georges Benjamin, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association (APHA), Donna Smith, Community Organizer, California Nurses Association; Dr. Oliver Fein, President, Physicians for a National Health Program, Dean Mike Klag of the Johns  Hopkins School of Public Health, and Dr. Renee Jenkins Immediate Past President American Association of Pediatricians will address ballgoers.”

The Health for All Blue Diamond Ball (

Jenna Mack, Event Emissary

Written by Aman

January 16, 2009 at 11:48 am

International Action: Clean Water Solutions in Haiti

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

Written by Aman

January 2, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Foreign Assistance from the 1960s

You know what happened in the 1960s? Here are several things:

  • The first debate for a presidential election was televised.
  • The Soviets sent the first man into space and the Americans need a man in space, too.
  • The Berlin Wall was built.
  • The Peace Corps was launched.
  • Rachel Carson warned that our earth would die of pollution and chemicals.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. made the speech, “I have a Dream”.
  • The first Civil Rights bill was passed to stop racial discrimination.
  • President Johnson ordered bombing raids on North Vietnam.
  • Woodstock happened.
  • Malcolm X, JFK and MLK were assassinated.

The other thing that happened – the passage fo the Foreign Assistance Act. See the below short video and campaign for why this is important:

For more on this very cool video by CGD see their website devoted to this here and think about signing their petition. They also have a great set of blogs, the health one (Global Health Policy) is here.

Written by Aman

June 2, 2008 at 8:45 pm

Scientific American on Food, Fat and Famine

sciamcover.gifAn account manager from Scientific American’s PR firm let me know about their latest issue on Obesity and Malnutrition (many thanks to Scott for the email) which you should check out. This special issue focuses on “Food, Fat and Famine” and has some of the world’s leading experts writing for the issue (Barry Popkin, world food prize laureate Per Pinstrup-Andersen, and others) along with a bonus article by Jeffery Sachs. I got a chance to quickly skim the introduction to the issue and this line struck me (paraphrased from memory): “For the first time in the world’s history the number of obese people has surpassed the undernourished” (roughly 1.3 billion vs 1 billion).

The shift to sedentary lifestyles (use of mopeds vs bikes) and drive to “Westernization” (fast food, sweetners, mass produced food, urbanization) is dramatically altering the landscape and will lead to a substantial rise in chronic diseases. As Barry Popkin says in his excellent article, The World is Fat, these changes have “paved the way for a public health catastrophe”. A couple of facts from Popkin’s article about the radical change that has taken place in Mexico in just 20 yeras:

-1989: Less than 10% of Mexicans were considered overweight
-2006: Over 66% of Mexican men and women are overweight or obese
-1990: Diabetes was almost non-existent in Mexico, not so today

The above rapid change maybe compounded in developing regions where evolution may have altered genetic makeup such that people in those regions have a greater ability to store fat due to the need to conserve in times of famine. Add in the lack of access to drugs, obesity leads to greater rates of diabetes and hypertension and in China for example, only 1/3 of hypertension patients receive medications. This issue is fascinating and I highly recommend perusing it. For a blog that posts on obesity in general as well as other issues, I would recommend the Med Journal Watch. Unfortunately the online links below only have free abstracts and not full articles, but you will get a decent sense of the article content:

The Global Paradox of Obesity and Malnutrition
A Question of Sustenance, abstract
Globalization ushered in a world in which more than a billion are overfed. Yet 800 million or so still suffer from hunger’s persistent scourge

The World Is Fat, abstract
How can the poorest countries fight obesity?

Still Hungry, abstract
One eighth of the world does not have enough to eat

Sowing a Gene Revolution, abstract
A new green revolution based on genetically modified crops could help reduce poverty and hunger, but only if formidable institutional challenges are met

Is Your Food Contaminated?, abstract
New approaches to protect the food supply

Sustainable Developments: Breaking the Poverty Trap by Jeffrey D. Sachs, abstract
Targeted investments can trump a region’s geographic disadvantages

Written by Aman

August 28, 2007 at 1:05 am

AfriHealth 2007 ICT Conference

The AfriHealth 2007 conference will be held from Sept 18 – 20th in Nairobi. There may still be panel speaker slots open, so if you are an expert in this area or know anyone who is, please let me know and please spread the word. The press release is here.


Written by Aman

August 7, 2007 at 7:58 am