Eye Catching Health Updates
New technologies and program updates fill this week’s health update:
Next Billion produced a blog this week highlighting the insights and impacts of Aravind Eye Care Systems. The founder Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy’s grandniece Pavithra K. Mehta recently published a book on the organization entitled Infinite Vision. Aravind is the world’s largest supplier of eye care services, and is additionally a self-sustaining and profitable organization that treats most of its patients for free.
FrontlineSMS was recently introduced to Kenyan health centers through a pilot study on the effects of engaging people living with HIV through text messaging. The study resulted in many important lessons being learned about what works and what doesn’t in terms of SMS communication with patients. While the study began by sending by sending messages up to four times as week with tips about topics such as hand washing, it was overwhelming for participants who wanted to know the underlying reasons for such activities. Additionally, while the program will be helpful to provide advice to patients, it is not a replacement for the face-to-face community meetings that are culturally effective to patients in Kenya. FrontlineSMS is happy to learn from the trial as they implement the program on a larger scale in the future.
The Latest Innovations
Household vinegar is being transformed into a cheap and simple innovation that is saving women’s lives in Thailand. Nurses in the country’s vast network of rural clinics are able to screen for cervical cancer, the number one cancer killer of women, by brushing vinegar on the cervix. The precancerous spots turn white and are immediately frozen off using cooled carbon dioxide. The treatment is fast and cheap and 90% effective. As Thailand is an area where even the poorest of the poor attend clinics, the implications of this testing for women could be enormous.
Collaboration between the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in New Delhi, India, and Next Dimension Technologies in California has resulted in a new technology that could save hundreds of thousands of lives. The Electronic Nose is similar to a roadside alcohol Breathalyzer but can detect tuberculosis molecules on the breath. The handheld innovation could potentially replace more time-consuming sputum testing and therefore limit the amount of time a patient is able to expose others to the disease. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently gave the project a two year grant of $950,000 in order to develop the device.
Finally this week, while the above innovations are exciting, there is still a call for more to be done in the health world. The United Nations recently called for governments and businesses to band together to combat non-communicable diseases. Both parties have a vested interest in a strong and healthy population, and the cooperation of a diverse group of parties can create an efficient and lasting solution to problems ranging from lack of infrastructure to the need for trained personnel. Given that 36 million people die yearly from NCDs, a number expected to jump to 52 million by 2020, this is an important issue to tackle as a team.
Thanks for taking time to read this week’s health round up. We hope you enjoyed it and will take a moment to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to keep up everything we at CHMI are doing. Have a safe and wonderful weekend!