When you think of Africa, what words come to mind? Most likely they are words of challenge, disease, poverty and conflict. It is less likely that you think "innovation." Yet it is innovation—by Africa and for Africa—that is helping empower us to tackle some of the continent's most stubborn and difficult challenges.
Low-cost technologies that can save the lives of newborns: Designing promising innovations for developing countries
Mamata gave birth to her daughter in a village in rural Haryana in Northern India with her mother-in-law's help. After a stressful, prolonged delivery, her mother-in-law could not help deliver the placenta. Meanwhile the infant was in respiratory distress. By the time Mamata's mother-in-law realized the urgency of the situation, it was nearly too late. However, she realized the need to clear the infant's nose and mouth in order for the infant to breathe normally. Today, the infant is a healthy, thriving two-month old with no medical conditions. Critical action during these early minutes prevented a potentially a life-threatening situation.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have galvanized stakeholders around the globe to improve the health and well-being of the world's poorest people by 2015. While progress has been made, more than 1000 women per day still perish in childbirth, and more than 2.5 million babies are stillborn each year. Searching for solutions to meet the MDG targets has mobilized governments, the private sector and non-governmental organizations alike to form public-private partnerships to address some of the toughest global health challenges.
The rise of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, has sharpened the focus on longstanding issues with health systems across both developing and developed economies. According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the roots of the changing disease burden cut across demographics (such as aging populations), and widespread changes in lifestyle (particularly poor diet, lack of exercise, tobacco smoking, and alcohol consumption). To make matters worse, health systems are typically geared towards acute and curative care rather than preventive and long-term care, with the bulk of health services provided by scarce clinicians, using expensive health care assets. As these dimensions collide, health benefits (for example, life expectancy) are beginning to plateau, while costs are rising sharply.