Developing Health Innovation Beyond Traditional Borders
Nearly 90% of the world’s children live in developing countries; half live on less than $2/day. The health challenges these children face are enormous, yet the vast majority of healthcare R&D is directed toward solving health challenges of the developed world. This talk will describe efforts to engineer appropriate high-performance, low-cost science & technology platforms and to develop models for sustainable dissemination of these technologies. For example, we are working to develop Nursery of the Future for district hospitals in the developing world, which includes a comprehensive set of low-cost, highly effective technologies to help newborns survive and thrive. We estimate that a neonatal nursery of the future for a district hospital serving 300,000 people in developing countries could be outfitted for less than $5,000. This is less than the cost of one western style ventilator.
Global health challenges are compounded by insufficient local engineering capacity. There is a severe lack of engineering capacity in sub-Saharan Africa; a UNESCO report found that in South Africa in the early 2000s the number of engineers emigrating annually was the same as the number graduating. We are developing twinning programs in Ethiopia to help institutions in the developing world strengthen their capacity to provide bioengineering education and retain engineering talent. The goal is to build an international cadre of engineering leaders who can reach across geographic and cultural boundaries to design sustainable health technologies that benefit all of the world’s citizens.
by Professor Rebecca Richards-Kortum – GGCS health session speaker and panelist
Stanley C. Moore Professor of Bioengineering and Chair of Bioengineering at Rice University and Director, Rice 360°: Institute for Global Health Technology