The New Market Builders for Health Innovation

Friday, July 31, 2015

We often criticize the fragmentation of global development into isolated silos: education, governance, agriculture, environment, humanitarian assistance, economic growth. Even within the silos, there are silos.

Health funding flows in vertical streams to nutrition, maternal and child health, communicable diseases, noncommunicable diseases, and while practitioners dive deep into their respective areas of expertise, they often struggle to notice the places where global challenges intersect.

Innovation can be subject to the same kind of detachment from what is occurring around it, either because developers become enraptured with the innovative product itself, or because experts look for solutions to one particular problem, rather than solutions that can move the needle for many.

But that is where game-changing innovation happens, at the intersections. Ideas emerge from unexpected places, and it sometimes takes a wide-angle lens to notice how groundbreaking they might really be.

Chicken distributors did not realize that in tracking the temperature of their product as it traveled from factory to store they had also happened upon a simple technological solution to a problem plaguing global vaccination efforts.

Vaccines can endure a limited combination of time and temperature exposure. The higher the temperature they are exposed to, the less time they remain viable. Distributors were forced to err well on the side of caution, to ensure none of the individual vaccine vials within an entire shipment exceeded its exposure limit. If transport complications — hardly unheard of in many places where vaccination initiatives operate — disrupted the delivery plan and risked spoiling any of the vaccines, large numbers of them would have to be discarded. Health practitioners couldn’t risk exposing patients to a compromised vaccine dose, even if those patients had walked miles to receive it.

Source: Devex (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
nutrition, vaccines