Utilizing Homegrown Resources to Enable Sustainable Health Projects for the Underserved
“In developed countries, such as in the US, we have such sophisticated technology and tools that we don’t even think about other places where these technologies may not even be usable for many reasons,” said Dr. Seema Handu, Managing Director of the Children’s Global Health Initiative (CGHI), a joint venture between Children’s Hospital Oakland and Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland, that focuses on providing healthcare for the children and communities in the underserved areas.
What might work for the developing nations may not be applicable in many cases in other regions, especially in rural areas, where infrastructure is not in place. “Having uninterrupted source of power is important when running certain tools (and technologies), and a lot of these (rural) places do not have that,” shared Dr. Handu. “This is basic infrastructure that’s being taken for granted.”
In addition, she said: Humidity, heat, and dust — which is common in the underserved areas — are the some of the very basic things that aren’t considered in the healthcare design philosophy.
“If you go to any design school, they’re not even going to teach you that because they don’t matter. But the moment you start thinking about other countries, then that’s when they’ll start to matter.”
Dr. Handu mentioned that despite several challenges, CGHI has been able to build sustainable programs through localization and community involvement. “We don’t work in big cities; we work in rural areas. We work with existing clinics, so that makes it a little easier for us. We make sure that people in the community are totally involved. One of the things we’ve done successfully is take advantage of homegrown products in Vietnam, for instance, to produce things such as nutritional supplements for pregnant women. This helps reduce healthcare costs and it’s also very good for the local economy.”
In the upcoming Health Technology Forum Innovation Conference set at UCSF, Mission Bay Conference Center, Dr. Handu will moderate a panel entitled, “Design Thinking for the Underserved.” The panel will focus on design approach and thinking that will make substantial impact and improve the lives of the underserved.
To register to attend, go to this link.