As of this writing, nearly *every other* medical device is the developing world is out of use (compared to <1% of devices in wealthy countries). You’d be hard-pressed to find a hospital in sub-Saharan Africa that doesn’t have a room, hallway or field stockpiled with old or broken equipment lying idly–sometimes because the machines are cheaply made or worn from use, sometimes because a replacement part is missing and inaccessible. The result, quite simply, is higher rates of death and disability: if health providers don’t have the technology and tools they need to deliver high-quality healthcare, millions of patients will be left with conditions that go unnoticed or untreated.
As an industry of socially-minded innovators and entrepreneurs, we pay so much attention to cutting-edge design theory and cool new gadgets that we often overlook the most fundamental tenet of technology: it has to work (and ideally stay working). In the U.S., we wouldn’t accept anything less than high-functioning medical equipment anytime we sought care at a hospital. Isn’t it time we applied that same standard to patients around the world?
We thought so, which is why we’ve teamed up with Mashable, UNDP and the UN Foundation to highlight this challenge at this year’s Social Good Summit. Following last year’s talk by our COO Erica Frenkel, we’re calling attention to the unsexy innovation needed to keep technology working where it’s needed most. Our hope is to catalyze a movement of change-makers motivated by the potential of technology to dramatically improve healthcare–and willing to repair how we think about it.
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