State of the Planet – 2010

Originally posted on the WhyPublicHealth blog:

On March 25: Look for a state of the union address unlike any other–State of the Planet 2010.

A biennial conference, hosted by the Earth Institute and The Economist, watch the world’s most influential and innovative thinkers tackle critical issues facing the world including: climate change, poverty, economic recovery and international systems.

Clearly all these issues greatly affect public health (a topic of  import to PHC), but this post will place focus particularly on poverty.

A short list of infectious diseases, treatable with inexpensive generic drugs, accounts for 70-90% of all childhood illness and death in the developing world — a truly appalling statistic.

These enormous global health disparities cause thousands of global citizens—sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers—to die each day from diseases for which cures were discovered decades ago. Such deaths do not come from disease as much as from complacency: killed by conditions that could be prevented with simple, affordable remedies: vaccinations, bednets, anti-malarials, hand sanitizer and antibiotics.

Disease has practically become an accepted part of life in impoverished communities, yet treatments are available for less than a cup of coffee. So what can be done?

Here is a list of some of the more innovative approaches to improve health or reduce costs for the poorest of the poor:

Selling to the poor: Social enterprises likes HealthStore Foundation attempt to use market mechanisms to create a private alternative for sustainable access to low-cost, high-quality medications.

Health Impact Fund: Yale’s own Thomas Pogge is leading the charge to radically change Pharma’s global IP policies by incentivizing R&D expenditure that would address substantial reductions in global burden of disease.

PATH’s Malaria Vaccine Initiative: Funded by the Gates Foundation, a collaborative effort to create a whole new type of vaccine will save millions of lives.

The Power of the Text: FrontlineSMS:Medic leverages the power of the cell phone to save lives in developing countries.

charity:water: No one brings clean drinking water to people in developing nations better than CW. 100% of proceeds go to fund water projects.

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