Design Expo 2014: Online Discussion - Enhancing Health Outcomes

This online panel discussion at 3.30 UK time on Tuesday 10 June will explore the following questions:

  1. What are some of the key health challenges where business innovation can make a difference at scale?
  2. What are the key drivers for achieving better health outcomes at the base of the pyramid - is it just a matter of better products, or are the other factors such as better distribution or better community engagement?
  3. How can private sector products and distribution systems better connect with government systems?

Panelists include: Jack Castle and Carey Carpenter, Living Goods; Simon Berry, Cola Life; Erica Frenkel, Gradian Health; Ramil Burden, GlaxoSmithKline; Donika Dimovska, Program Director, Results for Development Institute; Julia Watson, DFID.

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This event is part of the Business Fights Poverty Design Expo 2014. Running from 9 to 13 June,  the Design Expo is an online celebration of products, services and business models transforming the lives of poor people.  The Design Expo is a collaboration with iDE UK and is being supported by the UK's Department for International Development.

The Expo will include a vibrant mix of blogs, Google Hangouts, online panel discussions, a Twitter Jam and a virtual exhibition zone. Each day we will focus on a different sector: Energy (9 June), Health (10 June), Communications (11 June), Livelihoods (including enterprise, finance and agriculture) (12 June) and Water & Sanitation (13 June).

From Monday 9 June, you will be able to access all the activities via the Design Expo landing page,  Participation in the Design Expo is free.  You will simply need to sign in (or sign up for free) to Business Fights Poverty.


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The Living Goods model focuses on addressing key challenges in maternal and child health, with a goal to have huge impact to reduce mortality for U5s. Common killers like malaria, diarrhoea, pneumonia and unsafe deliveries are easy and cheap to treat, but the access to high quality, affordable goods and services are not there. Drugs are often out of stock, over priced, or fake in the communities. 

As Simon noted, diarrhoea is a major killer - we are trying to address this and other common illnesses using our network of entrepreneurial community health workers. Our Community Health Promoters are able to efficiently deliver key products and services to the doorsteps of the poor. 

We agree! Recruiting, training, and supporting sustainable frontline health workers systems that deliver high-quality impact at scale is the essence of the Living Goods model.

Here's the one in the Expo - Smart Life in Kenya:

I think we are hard pressed to discuss an area of health where, if a business has effectively identified a scalable product/solution to an entrenched problem, it would not be able to make a difference at scale. What may be more critical is engaging more businesses in the realm of health, particularly in under-served markets so that scaling were a challenge being addressed by more great minds...

It's a really important point, Simon, because many illnesses in the developing world are often around things like diarrhoea and pneumonia, which in the northern hemisphere aren't deadly but in the southern hemisphere often are. Tackling these diseases together is really important. Vaccination has a key role to play here.

We can also 'para-skill' retailers so that they can promote their own products. We use Community Health Workers too but they are often over-stretched and sometimes there are difficulties with the notion that they should be funnelling people towards the private sector rather than towards the public sector. What's the experience of others?

We at CHMI profile over 1,200 programs, policies and practices with the potential to address key health challenges. For example, business innovations in delivery, such as the numerous emerging chains of low-cost/high-quality primary care clinics, have the potential to contribute to both national and global health priorities. Taking these types of innovations to scale is the big challenge!  

This is part of an entire continuum of need we see in Human Resources for Health where we work. CHWs or Frontline Health Workers are often the first interaction with a healthcare provider and they are instrumental in the referral and communication process to get those who need more specific or medical help. At Gradian we are at the end of that continuum, in the hospital, where we see an unconscionable lack of trained medical providers (we are in the operating theatre, but that is generally the experience across any of the hospitals we work with).

Couldn't agree more Erica. It's clear that mobile phone companies, banks etc could have a role to play in distribution, micro insurance, preventing stock outs, diagnosis and more. But what we need is for companies across different sectors to come together to leverage each other's expertise and develop a shared value model in which all partners achieve their business goals. We believe that this will be critical in reaching the hardest-to-reach populations, particularly outside of the cities.

And at least for basic diarrhoea there aren't big financing issues.  As Simon says, the treatment is very cheap.  So no complications about needing to get public financing to ensure that poor people can get access to effective treatment.

Hi Jack - do the Living Goods community-based distributors have an ORS/Zinc product in their baskets? If they do which one is it? If not - we should talk!

Hello Donika!

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