Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Solutions in Health Crossing Borders
Editor's note: This post was written by Chloe Feinberg, Health Specialist for Knowledge and Learning at Ashoka Changemakers.

It’s time to look at health challenges through a new lens. In the Ashoka Changemakers Innovations for Health: Solutions that Cross Borders competition, we are looking for solutions that work in your region — and that will work in other countries, too. 
No two countries, beneficiary groups, or innovative models are exactly alike. But we are seeing the lines blur between health challenges faced in both developed and developing countries, and in rural and urban areas. 
Throughout the world, pressure on national health systems is increasing as populations grow, people live longer, and individuals moving into the middle class have more money to pay for health care. At the same time, the burden of diseases is spreading globally. 

For example, consider two women: one lives in rural India, and the other in urban New York City. Both have been diagnosed with diabetes. Traditionally, these two women would be regarded quite differently. Certainly, the causes of their diabetes are likely to differ significantly. And their treatment and management will also vary significantly. 
But both women suffer the same condition, so there may be ways that the health systems in their countries can learn from each other. What innovative approach from India can be adapted and applied in New York City? And vice versa? 
There are many intersection points where innovation can occur, including diagnosis, treatment, treatment adherence, social marketing about the disease, prevention, affordability and financial access, patient empowerment, and the mental health aspects of chronic disease. Why couldn’t the innovations that exist around the world travel across the world where they can be adapted and applied locally? 
The same story can be told over and over again across geographies. Dental health is another great example. Where are the innovations for encouraging better dental hygiene within communities, or for creating access to dental health where it did not exist before? What innovative processes within these models can be repackaged and applied elsewhere? 
Health challenges are similar throughout the world, although they present themselves in different ways. Health care is too costly, both for governments and individuals, and there isn’t enough of it; the doctor-patient ratio in most countries in the world is too low to allow everyone to access to a physician; preventative health is often overlooked and creates great long-term health challenges down the line. These are stories are common all over the world. 
So rather than focusing on solutions in a single locality, this completion looks at innovation through a different lens and asks, Where else can this work? Who else could benefit from this process? What other populations or patient-types could use this type of model? These are the questions we look forward to exploring with you in the solutions submitted to the Innovations for Health online competition.

Disclaimer: Re-produced from www.changemakers.com/blog


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