Medical breakthroughs are going low-tech and back to basics. Since September, the New York Times has been running an ongoing segment, “Small Fixes,” featuring low-cost health solutions that also have a big impact.
The simple solutions range from the use of vinegar to assist in removing pre-cancerous cervical lesions, to folding a sari cloth four times to create a filter that reduces the amount of cholera in water by 99 percent.
The innovations featured in the NYT are remarkable in their simplicity, affordability, and cleverness. (The NYT did, however, include LifeStraw in its featured solutions, which has for the past year come under fire for its controversial incorporation of carbon credits to offset its pricy production costs.)
Because the simplest of solutions can prove to be the most effective (a la Occam’s razor), we at Changemakers have become fascinated with the new wave of low-cost health gadgets, which could dramatically reverse health care’s trend towards the more complex and expensive. Here are five more emerging health innovations--elegantly simple and affordable--to look for on the horizon.
It’s an exciting time in the Partnering for Excellence: Innovations in Science + Technology + Engineering + Math (STEM) Education competition, hosted in collaboration with Carnegie Foundation of New York and The Opportunity Equation. Solving the world’s most pressing challenges requires innovations in STEM education because these disciplines are at the very center of our quest to improve our lives and the condition of our world. The 24 innovations that were chosen from 265 total entries are now eligible for cash prizes and rewards, and it’s up to you to pick a People’s Choice winner from the ten competition finalists.
The revolutions across the Middle East and North Africa have captured the attention of the world, and have inspired citizens everywhere to speak out against injustice. Yet many of these movements have felt the wrath of the regimes they are speaking out against – through violence, arrests, and massive censorship.
Tiago Dalvi is an Ashoka changemaker who is using his sharp business acumen to help improve the lives of thousands in his home country of Brazil by connecting local producers with established global retailers like Walmart, JCPenney, Whole Foods, and Target.
Voting has opened for the Partnering for Excellence competition! After careful deliberation, 10 top finalists have been chosen from 265 entries, representing the most innovative and scalable solutions for STEM education that best exemplify the goals of the competition.
The Ashoka Changemakers Citizen Media competition (sponsored by Google) has attracted the attention and support of leaders in the citizen media space. One of the competition judges, Sanjana Hattotuwa, has dedicated himself to the complex (and often risky) field of citizen media in war-torn Sri Lanka.
Editor's note: This post was written by Alison Craiglow Hockenberry, contributing editor at Ashoka Changemakers®, and originally featured on the Huffington Post.
We hear a lot these days about innovation and job creation. But when people talk about innovation and jobs, they're usually talking about innovations that may produce jobs -- as opposed to innovations in the way we increase employment.
Transforming inmates into entrepreneurs in Texas — and saving millions of tax dollars
Texas has been the center of a swirl of controversy lately in two very different arenas: the state’s enthusiastic embrace of the death penalty, and Republican frontrunner Rick Perry’s touted track record of job creation. Perry’s history of job creation has come under fire from numerous critics, as well as a new study revealing that Texas’s poverty levels rank the second highest in the nation.
But deep in the heart of Texas, there’s a promising light for real job creation — and for bringing positive change to the criminal justice system.
Editor's note: Evagelia Tavoulareas, Changemakers media mobilizer, was at the most recent Tech@State event which featured some rather remarkable data visualization techniques. Find her rundown of how they can be used to enhance diplomacy, development and foreign affairs after the jump.
A team of emergency medical responders at Emergency Management and Research Institute (EMRI). EMRI's state-of-the-art call response centers are able to dispatch over 2600 free ambulances across multiple states in India to respond to medical, police and fire emergencies. via
Skyrocketing health care costs are a global problem, but creative entrepreneurs in South and Southeast Asia are figuring out how to do better with less. Changemakers worked with its network partner, The Center for Health Market Innovations (CHMI), to spotlight four promising strategies that innovators in this region are using to tackle high out-of-pocket costs and simultaneously ramp up the delivery of quality health care.
Nuru Energy is a job creator. And a planet saver. And an education booster. A winner in the Powering Economic Opportunity: Create a World That Works online competition, co-hosted by eBay Foundation and Changemakers, it’s a brilliant, self-sustaining model that turns the unemployed into entrepreneurs: they own and operate pedal-powered recharging stations for the simple, inexpensive, beautifully designed Nuru Lights that are providing a source of light for thousands of people in India and Africa – lights that can be used, among many other things, for students to study by at night. Watch how they do it.
Photo from a Citizens for Democracy letter signing campaign in Pakistan, covered by Global Voices blogger, Sana Saleem
Peace and nation-building efforts in Afghanistan are falling far short of expectations. Former U.S. top commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s “government in a box” approach to counterinsurgency was intended to build up local governments, repair damaged infrastructure, establish police stations, and create self-sufficient marketplace economies.
[Editor's note: This post was written by Alison Craiglow Hockenberry, contributing editor at Ashoka Changemakers®, and originally featured on the Huffington Post.]
You wouldn't know it from the headlines, but people are getting hired, household incomes are rising, and Americans are pulling themselves and their families out of poverty.
Photo via BpeaceHQ
In the heart of war-torn Afghanistan, a woman named Mursal focuses her energy on the task directly in front of her. She works from home—a space that is not only safer, but also more practical for the female head of a household—and spends much of her day, like most days in the year, stretching, drying, and cutting synthetic leather into panels before hand-stitching the pieces together.
It's easy to take technology for granted. I've compiled a few vintage videos to remind us of just how far we've come!
Across the United States and around the world, the anti-bullying movement has become a rallying force. From celebrities telling gay teens that “It Gets Better” to the world-wide attention paid to a bullying incident in Australia captured on video, the problem of bullying in schools has garnered heightened media attention and is being tackled with increasingly stronger laws by communities.
Save the date!
In 1960, architect and preservationist James Marston Fitch declared in The New York Times: “The automobile has not merely taken over the street, it has dissolved the living tissue of the city. Its appetite for space is absolutely insatiable; moving and parked, it devours urban land, leaving buildings as mere islands of habitable space in a sea of dangerous and ugly traffic.”
You won’t find many World Cup soccer players who have had to rise above extreme poverty, homelessness and prolonged spells of alcoholism and drug abuse. But these are the kinds of challenges that socially marginalized players from around the world have surmounted in order to be featured in the Homeless World Cup (HWC) annual tournament.
The response by the global health community to the Making More Health competition has been outstanding and has even broken an Ashoka Changemakers® record, receiving 186 entries by the August 17 deadline for the early entry prize.
- Affordable, Quality Health Care and Services for the Underprivileged - Pakistan
- Integral Health Assistance to Highly Nomadic Indigenous Population - Costa Rica
Photo via jackol
Recently, Changemakers reported on innovations in health, including Hilmi Quraishi’s mobile phone games that give teens points for knowing more about HIV/AIDS and prevention. Changemakers sat down with Quraishi to discuss his work founding and leading ZMQ Software Systems, which has created dozens of games and technology solutions for the social sector, including ones that raise awareness about climate change and that address the UN’s Millennium goals, such as sanitation, clean water, and children’s health.
Photo via Derek DeVries
Last week, I wrote about the need to expand our definition of “citizen media.” In addition to oft-cited examples of civic media – Ushahidi, Global Voices, Twitter – other platforms have a powerful hold over how we receive civic information.
Specifically, Google and Facebook control and manage the flow of information for billions of people worldwide. But do we understand how this information is curated and presented?
“The New York Police Department is doing everything it can to make sure there’s not another 9/11 here and that more innocent New Yorkers are not killed by terrorists,” said New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne. “And we have nothing to apologize for in that regard.”
(Above: Esperance Yanfashije who along with her husband Martin Uwayezu, run a Nuru business together. They live and work in Ruhuha Sector, Bugesera District, Eastern Province, Rwanda. Image credit: John Briggs)
[Editor's note: This post was written by Adeena Schlussel, associate at KIND Snacks, and was originally featured on Next Billion.net. Nuru Energy is a finalist in the Changemakers Powering Economic Opportunity: Creat a World That Works competition.]
"Everyone watching these horrific actions will be struck by how they were organized via social media . . . Free flow of information can be used for good. But it can also be used for ill. And when people are using social media for violence, we need to stop them." – British Prime Minister David Cameron
But Twitter was also used to organize a resistance movement (#riotcleanup) that coordinated crowds of citizens from the riot-affected areas. Citizens who were outraged by the violence came together to clean up the damage. The effort was a local action that turned into a movement; with the broom as its symbol, the cleanup campaign spread across the country as quickly as the riots did, thanks to . . . social media.
I realize it is slightly ludicrous to discuss “social media” in an anthropomorphic sense. Social media is a tool used by people, and can be used in any number of ways, from organizing weeks of peaceful protests that led to the collapse of the Mubarak regime to organizing destructive riots that set fire to London for days. Yet as I watched the coverage of the events in London I couldn’t help but picture social media like this:
[Editor's note: This post was written by Lorena López, Argentine journalist and Ashoka Changemakers collaborator.]
Listening to communities, respecting traditions, and motivating families to get involved in self-care: These factors are fundamental to achieving better quality of life and health, according to María Elisa Bernal, director of the Experiences in Social Innovation project of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL). In 2010, CEPAL published a study, From Social Innovation to Public Policy: Successful stories from Latin America and the Caribbean, identifying the factors necessary to guarantee access to health care in Latin America. This interview with Bernal is based on the findings of this study, as well as her years of experience working at the regional level in the field of health.
[Editor's note: This post was written by Keith Hammonds, director of Ashoka's News & Knowledge Program.]
One of the more intriguing exchanges I’ve been in on recently came between Jake Shapiro, founder and CEO of the Public Radio Exchange, and Stephen Friend, president of Sage Bionetworks. Both are recently elected Ashoka Fellows. Shapiro is a media guy: PRX is a web-based platform that allows the distribution, review, and licensing of radio content that’s produced by literally anyone. Friend, a medical doctor and biochemist, was previously senior vice president at Merck & Co., Inc. where he led the company’s basic cancer research effort. Among other projects at Sage, Friend has created an online space where genomic and biomedical researchers can convene, interact, share basic research, and build upon one another’s insights in an environment governed by neither academia nor industry — speeding treatments and cures.