Inspirational Healthcare In(ter)ventions
The New York Times has an excellent section on “low-cost innovations that can save thousands of lives.” A conversation today focuses on Dr. Paul Polak, a 78-year-old former psychiatrist.
[Dr. Polak] has focused on creating devices that will improve the lives of 2.6 billion people living on less than $2 a day. But, he insists, they must be so cheap and effective that the poor will actually buy them, since charity disappears when donors find new causes.
His greatest success has been a treadle pump that lets farmers raise groundwater in the dry season, when crops fetch more money. He has sold more than two million, he said. He also helped develop a $25 artificial knee and a $400 hospital lamp to save newborns with life-threatening jaundice.
Dr. Polak’s work reminded me of an inspirational conference in Boston, organized by Kevin Outterson, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Rhode Island College of Pharmacy, Universities Allied for Essential Medicines & Mind the Health Gap. Una Ryan, President & Chief Executive Officer of Diagnostics for All, gave a powerful presentation on her company’s quest to bring tests to individuals for pennies. Developments like these indicate that conditions for the world’s poorest can actually improve.