“How can you make change?” Sasha Dichter, Chief Innovation Officer for Acumen Fund, asked a rhetorical question of his audience at the Schubert Theater this weekend. His proposition: Make mobilization of resources the core of global health work—not residual; listen to the population whom you serve; and “lean in” to embrace the importance of innovation.
Dichter’s trifold call to action served as a central theme for innovators presenting at the 9th Annual Global Health and Innovation Conference (GHIC) put on by Unite for Sight this past weekend. Between April 21-22nd, 2,200 individuals from all 50 states and over 50 countries convened in New Haven for this exchange of ideas.
I was one of the 2,200, and Dichter’s call for the mobilization of resources was underscored by my presentation on closing what the WHO calls the “know-do” gap, through use of public goods and global collaboration.
Sonia Ehrlich Sachs, MD, MPH, spoke to the challenge of mobilizing these sorts of resources as part of the 60 years of failed commitments in health. She explained that in the global context, “we know what to do but don’t know how to do it”—how to translate science into the design of complex systems, with integrated strategy, and innovative solutions.
In the face of these failed commitments arose social enterprise pitches on ways we can better listen to populations and revolutionize the field of global health.
In his workshop on “Using New Media to Tell Your Story and Reach a Wider Audience,” Dr. Neal Baer noted that social media can be applied to public health communications and interventions just as effectively as it is in story-gathering and -telling is for CBS’ “A Gifted Man” (for which Baer is an Executive Producer).
Jeffery Sachs, PhD, was one of many at the conference who iterated the need to innovatively leverage the technologies we have at hand and re-mold them for application in global health. “We need mechanisms to monitor [and] connect to” those individuals and communities that need health interventions most–bringing health topics and collaborative discussions online could be the way.
Participants like Dichter, Baer, the Sachs, and myself, capitalized on the opportunity to connect, collaborate, and learn about innovative ways to approach the myriad of complexities in global health today. Inspired and armed with a whole host of ideas for change and growth, conference attendees left heeding the proverbial advice of unlikely GHIC speaker, Seth Goldman, TeaEO of Honest Tea: “Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the people doing it.”