James Militzer

Bi-Weekly Checkup (3/15/13): The (un)surprising secret to good health

Here’s a quick quiz (don’t worry, it’s multiple choice…)

An estimated 35 percent of the global burden of disease could be eradicated by _________.

A. New vaccine technology

B. Greater access to primary care

C. Good nutrition

If you guessed “C” – you’re right.

I was surprised when I read that statistic on Ashoka Changemakers’ website – but perhaps I shouldn’t have been. Malnutrition remains an urgent global problem, causing half of all child deaths and aggravating HIV and TB epidemics. And poor nutrition is a major factor in the dramatic rise of non-communicable diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Proper nutrition, on the other hand, can strengthen compromised immune systems and even help patients absorb strong medications, preventing recurring illness and the emergence of drug resistant infections.

In short, good nutrition is inseparable from good health, and it deserves a prominent place in global health discussions. That’s why we’re excited that NextBillion Health Care will be participating as a content partner in Ashoka Changemakers’ Nutrients for All campaign.

The campaign is exploring ways to make nutrient-rich food available for everyone, highlighting the different elements of the nutrient value chain and how they need to be woven together. It has covered solutions that range from public education and marketing to the use of nutrient-enhancing agricultural and food processing practices. It aims to shift public attention to the problem of nutrient insecurity, and the potential of restructuring our agricultural, food and health systems to make universal access to good nutrition a global reality.

Next week, NextBillion Health Care will feature daily coverage of the campaign, as it shifts its focus to the impact of nutrition on health. Along with blog posts, this coverage will include a Google+ Hangout with experts on the topic. You can also follow the campaign on Twitter with the #nutrients4all hashtag, or on Ashoka Changemakers’ Nutrients for All blog.

A Busy Two Weeks

From quacks to taxes, vaccines to female sanitary napkins – we’ve covered some diverse topics over the past two weeks. Check out the posts below if you missed them:

Vive la France!: Has UNITAID cracked the code on sustainable foreign aid?

Funded largely through a tiny tax on air travel, UNITAID is generating billions of dollars for global health interventions. Imagine how much more they could do with a tax on financial transactions… UNITAID chairman Philippe Douste-Blazy discusses that possibility and more in this surprisingly amusing interview.

Measuring Impact – Do Non-Profits Do It better?: Reflections on Dasra’s Philanthropy Week

For-profit social enterprises tend to measure their impact in dollars. That’s natural, but is it really the right approach? Aarthi Rao explores the possibility that for-profits should emulate non-profits and focus on social impact instead.

“The Female Sanitary Revolution”: Disruptive innovations break taboos to promote women’s health

Every 28 days across the globe, half the world’s population menstruates. Yet this natural occurrence presents a significant challenge for millions of girls and women in developing countries who can’t afford the high cost of sanitary napkins. In this post, Perzen Patel profiles some innovative, for-profit solutions to this problem.

The BoP Needs Drugs: Can the HealthStore Foundation’s model deliver?

The HealthStore Foundation straddles the line between for-profit and non-profit enterprise. A U.S.-based non-profit, it operates (and subsidizes) a chain of franchised, for-profit drug shops and clinics in Kenya. HealthStore Foundation CEO Greg Starbird discusses the model’s successes and failures in this revealing video interview and public Q&A.

Innovation Forward and Backward: BRAC adapts its microcredit model to water, sanitation and hygiene

Innovators are often fascinated with things that are radically new. But sometimes what’s needed are proven concepts adapted to new spaces. BRAC has applied two familiar ideas – local village organizations and entrepreneurialism – to solve the problems of water, sanitation and hygiene through the WASH program. Babar Kabir, the program’s senior director, discusses the model and its impact.

Out of the Shadows?: New research calls for more engagement with informal health care sector

Are quacks finally getting some love in the global health community? CHMI’s Rose Reis interviews May Sudhinaraset, a research specialist with the Global Health Group at the University of California, San Francisco, about what her new literature review reveals about this vitally important yet often overlooked sector.

When Vaccines Can’t Help: How supply chain failures undermine vaccine advancements – and what’s being done about it

Breakthroughs in vaccine technology are saving lives, but these new vaccines can require over twice the refrigeration and transport capacity of traditional vaccines, and can cost up to 50 times more. BoP countries can’t afford to waste them, but their inadequate supply and logistic systems make waste inevitable. The William Davidson Institute’s Dan Shine highlights supply chain innovations and organizations that are addressing the problem.

Health Care