I’ve spent the past two months working on openFn, a non-profit, open-source project that aspires to eventually allow social-impact organizations to incorporate new information technology solutions as effortlessly as you add apps to a smartphone. The project builds on something I, and so many other fellows, learned during the Global Health Corps (GHC) fellowship. Information technology—while not a solution on its own—has the potential to help global health and other social sector organizations dramatically increase their impact. Unfortunately, finding and using the right tools comes at too high a cost both in dollars and, more importantly, staff time. OpenFn aims to unlock technology’s potential to help impact-first organizations with tools to assist organizations in identifying, implementing, and integrating technology solutions to fit their needs and circumstances.
Author Archives: Global Health Corps Fellow
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), non-communicable diseases (NCDs) represent 46% of the global burden of disease and cause 63% of all deaths in the world, equal to 36 million people per year. Annually nine million people die prematurely before the age of 60 as a result of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). People from developing countries suffer the most: 90% of people who die before the age of 60 are from middle and low-income countries. The World Health Organization estimates that without prevention, 52 million people will die because of NCDs by 2030. As is the case in all developing countries, Uganda is experiencing important changes in disease patterns.
In our first couple of weeks with Gardens for Health International (GHI) in Rwanda, we were fortunate enough to visit a few of the families that had graduated GHI’s program so we would better understand the need for and the impact of our fight against childhood malnutrition. We were driven deep into the countryside and dropped off individually with different families that spoke very little or no English. I was introduced to my family in front of their mud and stick home, which they were waiting to expand when the rainy season returned and mud was easily available. The mother of the family, Clementine, greeted us at the road with her child on her back. Her husband was off doing some work nearby in the village
It’s interesting how so many ideas have been documented and visualized about improving the health sector in Uganda, while ignoring the fact that an improved health sector starts with health providers being able to work more efficiently and effectively. This involves proper documentation of patient records, proper data storage, and proper feedback mechanisms in order to create a smooth information flow. Most of the current processes are often manual and more laborious than they need to be. This causes greater inefficiencies, longer turn-around time, loss of revenue due to inaccurate compilations, inability to archive data for future use, and poor allocation of resources. Well developed health information systems that are based on the idea of sharing critical information can assist areas of operation in the health sector
If there is one lesson I’ve learned from working at the Global Health Delivery (GHD) Project at Harvard University these last few months, it is that the global health field is full of extremely intelligent individuals that are required to maintain expertise in a variety of interdisciplinary skills. GHD’s mission is to build a network of professionals dedicated to value-based health care globally, and they do this by creating public goods that give global health professionals an opportunity to learn the varied skills needed to deliver health care effectively and efficiently without letting the quality of care they provide diminish. Through their online virtual communities on GHDonline.org, GHD connects more than 13,000 global health professional to solve their real-time health care delivery concerns. Doctors have the opportunity to ask engineers the best way to structure a TB clinic to prevent the spread of infection to new patients, while health literacy experts can share their health communications plans. For this fellowship year, I am helping GHD with their marketing and development.
Despite being one of the least motorized regions in the world, Africa bears the highest burden of road traffic fatalities. Working in Rwanda for the past three months as a Global Health Corps Fellow, numerous colleagues have shared distressing stories of family members and acquaintances killed in accidents. For people living in Rwanda traffic accidents are an all too common reality. A Personal Story It had been 72-hours since landing in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. We were moving to Partners in Health’s headquarters in a rural village in the Eastern Province
Looking at my worn-out shoes reveals how much I have traveled within Uganda over the past few months. But moving on road from place to place in this beautiful country is no ordinary experience you could just pass your eyes over; from vehicles weaving through potholed roads to starting random conversations with strangers especially when using public means. Public road transportation in Uganda is composed of taxis (Matatu), buses and motorcycles (Boda Boda). In this day and age when health systems around the world are stretched due to disease outbreaks, accidents and other public health challenges, I wonder whether regulation of public transport especially in my country could present a solution. Buses in Uganda are reputed for transporting persons and commodities between cities or even across borders
Given the major Ebola outbreak in West Africa, some governments throughout the world seem to be teetering on hysteria. In some cities of the United States, for example, schools have put teachers on leave and barred children from West Africa to enroll unless they show a health certificate, and parents have pulled their children from school. These decisions have been made based on unfounded information and deserve a second look to prevent measures that could be excessive and counterproductive. Without neglecting the attention that Ebola deserves, more pertinent consideration ought to be given to an infectious disease spreading throughout the Americas since it has been classified as an epidemic in some areas of the continent. This disease can cause significant complications and may even lead to death under certain circumstances.
In the 1990s, cellular phones first became widely available in the United States. Over subsequent years, however, its roll out and usage has increased dramatically worldwide. To harness this increased demand, desire and roll out, telecommunications service providers worldwide had to, and are still, placing towers in several communities: mainly in areas they deem allows their system (base station) to radiate as much signal as possible. Against this backdrop, some of these points have turned out to be within homesteads. These towers, also called base stations, have electronic equipment and antennas that receive and transmit radio frequency (RF) signals
As you read this, tens of thousands in the foothills of Mt. Rwenzori have lost their loved ones in the last two years, and their community hospital has been totally destroyed by devastating floods. Other millions are displaced from their homes in the Balkans and a quarter of Bosnia went without clean water all at once, according to BBC World News on May 19, 2014. The cause of all of this is the damaging weather changes.