James Militzer

Bi-Weekly Checkup (3/29/13): A conversation about everything

Has this ever happened to you?

You’re talking about an important global problem – let’s say it’s poor nutrition – with a group of colleagues.

You’re focusing on a specific issue – for example, the best way to promote healthy eating in BoP communities.

But then the conversation starts to spiral – as soon as you address one problem, another one arises:

“If we encourage governments to distribute nutritious foods and supplements, how can we get their different agencies – health, family welfare, agriculture, etc. – to work together effectively?”

“If we bypass the complications of government and focus on creating a market for nutritious foods, how can we discourage big companies from loading up their products with unhealthy sweeteners to promote sales?”

“If companies don’t put unhealthy sweeteners in nutritious products, will anyone actually buy them – instead of less nutritious (but more delicious) alternatives?”

“If people do buy nutritious products, how can we ensure that food companies will mass-produce them in a way that doesn’t damage the environment?”

By the end of the discussion, it seems like the only solution is to comprehensively reform every government and corporation in the world, spark a global awakening in environmental stewardship and social responsibility, and convince billions of people to stop drinking soda and eating donuts. What seemed like a single specific problem now seems inextricably intertwined with dozens of related issues – as, of course, it is.

But while that’s no reason to avoid the conversation, it certainly helps to take things one step at a time.

That’s one reason I’ve enjoyed NextBillion Health Care’s collaboration with Ashoka Changemakers’ Nutrients for All campaign. It tackles a huge issue – how to make nutrients available globally – and breaks it down into more manageable components, from agriculture and the environment, to food processing, consumer demand and health promotion. It attempts to link these components into a single movement, drawing in the many different sectors that must be involved in any sustainable solution to the problem of poor nutrition.

Granted, that’s still a pretty tall order. But it’s encouraging – and even inspiring – to know that these conversations are happening, even if they don’t lead to easy solutions.

You can learn more about the Nutrients for All campaign from our coverage over the past two weeks – including some very lively discussions in Ashoka’s Google+ Hangouts, two of which included NextBillion Health Care. And don’t miss our other coverage of issues like rural health innovation, the impact of big data on global health, and insights from D-Rev on marketing affordable health care products at the BoP.

Announcing Ashoka Changemakers’ “Health Ideas” Week: A week-long discussion of nutrition’s impact on health

A brief run-down of the Nutrients for All campaign’s health care week – and some exciting health-related competitions and initiatives that Changemakers offers.

Shaping a Market for Nutrient Economies – Part 1: The zinc conundrum

What happens when the law of supply and demand fails to lead to a healthy market for a needed product? Using the example of zinc treatment for diarrheal disease, Lisa Smith explores how market interventions can help.

Shaping a Market for Nutrient Economies – Part 2: The value of partnerships

In part 2 of her series on market shaping, Lisa Smith explores how partnerships between for-profit and non-profit entities at various points in the value chain can make nutrient products – and even medicines – more accessible.

The Inextricable Link Between Health and Nutrition: How strategic design can change health behaviors

What if the best way to encourage healthy behavior change is not by targeting individuals directly, but to change the design of their environment to make these behaviors more convenient? Chloe Feinberg (who also participated in our Google+ Hangouts) explores innovations in strategic design.

FEATURED EVENT – The 10th Annual Global Health & Innovation Conference: April 13-14, 2013

Join Unite for Sight, a great line-up of speakers and presenters – and media partner NextBillion Health Care – for the world’s largest global health and social entrepreneurship conference.

Nutrients for All Google Hangouts: Thursday, March 21 and Wednesday, March 27

Join Ashoka Changemakers’ panel of six nutrition and global health experts and one enthusiastic novice (yours truly) for two fascinating discussions of the challenges and opportunities of improving global health through better nutrition.

D-Rev’s “Brilliance” Goes Global: CEO Krista Donaldson on designing products for the poor – and how to get businesses to sell them

The affordable design innovators at D-Rev brought the cost of a jaundice treatment light down from around $3,000 to $400. Find out how they’re working to get this innovation into the global market.

Big Data = Better Global Health?: What impact will the Global Burden of Disease study have?

It has been compared to the Human Genome Project, the international initiative that mapped man’s genetic code and profoundly impacted the science of biology. And it certainly is ambitious, with 486 collaborators from 302 institutions in 50 countries. But will the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study – the most comprehensive effort to date to quantify the world’s health status – really be a game-changer for global health?

The Quest for Integrated Health Care: The RHIN project’s model for rural health integration

Integration has become a buzz word in global health. In this post, Lisa Smith explores how Namibia is trying to make it a reality, creating a regionally focused strategy for health systems integration that could provide a model for global practice.

In Case You Missed It … This Week on NextBillion

NexThought Monday – Crunch Time: How a 1-year grant reshaped a Bangladesh cereal market By Kimberlee AblesMercy Corps

FEATURED EVENT – The 10th Annual Global Health & Innovation Conference: Join the world’s largest global health & social entrepreneurship conference April 13-14 By James MilitzerWDI

Health Care, Impact Assessment
nutrition, public health