GHIC 2018: Global Health & Innovation Conference
April 14-15, 2018
Yale University, New Haven, CT

Unite For Sight's 2010 Global Health & Innovation Conference

Blog Report By Indu Voruganti, Unite For Sight Global Health Leadership Intern

Innovation in Global Health

This session opened with a presentation on “Medical Innovation in Humanitarian Situations: The Work of Medecins Sans Frontieres”, by Jean-Herve Bradol, MD, Former President of MSF-France; Former Board Member, MSF-USA. Medecins Sans Frontieres is world renowned for its international humanitarian aid work and emergency medical assistance to populations in danger in more than 70 countries around the world. Dr. Bradol gave a brief history of the organization and an overview of its principles. The organization is committed to bringing quality medical care to people in crisis regardless of race, religion, or political affiliation. MSF provides aid to individuals threatened by catastrophe due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from healthcare, or natural disasters. MSF consists of more than 27,000 committed individuals who provide emergency assistance to people in turmoil. They are health professional and logistic experts from a myriad of fields including medicine, nursing, administration, epidemiology, laboratory research, mental health, etc. These diverse and committed professionals work together in accordance with MSF's principles of humanitarian action and medical ethics. MSF has been a leader in providing high-impact aid to those in great need, and their work is truly inspiring.

The session then focused more on the role of health professionals in crisis due to war and conflict in a talk given by Dr. Kaveh Khoshnood, PhD, Assistant Professor in Public Health Practice, Division of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health. Dr. Khoshnood began by discussing the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion of 1986.  The first International Conference on Health Promotion was held in Ottawa in response to a growing movement for greater health standards and care expectations. The charter adopted at the conference called for action to achieve health for all by the year 2000 and beyond. Many will agree that this is not the case today due to ongoing conflicts around the world that result in crisis. Dr. Khoshnood then spoke about a newly emerging academic discipline known as Peace Through Health, which studies how health interventions in actual and potential war zones may contribute to peace. Low-key initiatives such as humanitarian ceasefires are considered peace through health methods because of the use of health expertise to restrict weapon use and conflict. If one examines conflict from a public health approach, deaths are primarily due to conflict, and there is often manipulation of this reported data to suggest otherwise. He then described what it is like to work in conflict zones. This work requires one to hire armed protection for the aid workers. Tasks for workers include devising effective ways of delivering aid to warring parties, as well as deciding whether to speak up or be silent on the atrocities they witness. Dr. Khoshnood also spoke about the Red Cross Sphere Project, which has played a great importance in the humanitarian disaster response. The initiative was launched to develop a set of minimum standards in core areas of humanitarian assistance, aiming to improve the quality of assistance provided to people affected by disasters. Dr. Khoshnood concluded his very informative talk by saying that with a growing number of movements and initiatives to improve humanitarian responses to crises, health workers have a unique role to play in resolution.

The  final talk of the session was "Time To Lower The Bar For Social Entrepreneurship - Rwandan Lessons from Agribusiness and Health" given by Josh Ruxin,Founder and Director of Rwanda Works (RW), The Access Project and Millennium Village Rwanda; Assistant Clinical Professor of Public Health at Columbia University. Rwanda Works identifies financially viable businesses, develops the businesses and assists in their commercialization using a specific set of criteria. Dr. Ruxin’s innovative approach complements the efforts of humanitarianism and foreign aid. Dr. Ruxin described successful changes being brought about primarily due to good management practices. Ruxin concluded by saying, “Because someone cared about changes, they made changes on their own.” I left this talk feeling inspired to seek initiatives that create sustainability for the people they work with.

Key Takeaways: