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Tag: Partners in Health

Health Care for 1% of the Cost

This blog post is written with Pepijn Veling, Utrecht University, Netherlands.

There is a general consensus that U.S. healthcare needs major reform. Can reverse innovation — innovations originating from poor countries — provide one important answer? Most definitely.

In the U.S., the approach is to spend more money on major technological advances and come up with innovative products and solutions. In poor countries, the innovation paradigm is just the opposite: spend less and innovate new business models. Poor countries face severe resource constraints. They just cannot afford to spend a lot. Constraints need not be limiting, they can actually be liberating.

The ultra low-cost, high-quality prostheses innovation of Dr. Therdchai Jivacate and the Prostheses Foundation of Thailand is an inspiring example of this. Over the years, they have developed and delivered over 25,000 affordable and appropriate artificial legs to amputees in remote areas of Thailand and surrounding countries. In the U.S., an artificial leg costs about $10,000 and the delivery time is 7-10 days. The Prostheses Foundation of Thailand is able to do it for less than $100, about 1% of the U.S. cost, and their delivery time is 1-3 days.

Though Dr. Jivacate spent four years as a resident of physical medicine and rehabilitation in Northwestern University, he understood that conventional artificial legs were unaffordable and inappropriate for the majority of Thai amputees. There are several reasons. First, customers in rural Thailand simply cannot afford to pay a high price. For the poor making $2 a day, a $10,000 product would require 5,000 days of income. (With 200 working days a year, that amounts to an incredible 50 years). Second, the context and functional requirements for amputees in Thailand are vastly different from those in the U.S. Thai people do many of their daily activities with bare feet, sitting squat on the floor or cross-legged, and many work in wet paddy fields. Furthermore, while many roads in the U.S. are paved, Thai people walk on uneven roads. Finally, the expensive artificial legs are only available in Bangkok, thus making it virtually inaccessible to the rest of the population.

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Two Degrees of Freedom

I don’t often write about commercial ventures here, but from time to time, one that has a broader public service mission emerges. Here’s the latest, recently announced.

A company called Two Degrees is marketing a new, nutrition bar.* That’s nothing special (although it does taste good**), but what is special that for every one they sell, they will produce and distribute — working with Partners in Health — a nutritional pack to a hungry child in the world. The nutritional packs themselves are manufactured locally, so the company is creating jobs in the areas being served. Here’s more information about those packs.

“Nutrition packs are revolutionary treatments for severe and chronic malnutrition. Known as Ready-to-Use Food (RUF), these nutrition packs have been endorsed by the World Health Organization and treat chronic and severely malnourished children with up to 95% success rates.

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Wanted: Surgeons, nurses, and other medical personnel to help in Haiti

We are deeply grateful for the multitude of people who have contacted us wanting to provide medical  assistance. As patients flood to our sites from Port-au-Prince, we’re finding ourselves in need of both medical personnel and supplies. In particular, we need surgeons (especially
trauma/orthopedic surgeons), ER doctors and nurses, and full surgical teams (including anesthesiologists, scrub and post-op nurses, and nurse anesthetists).

If you are a health professional interested in volunteering, please send an email to volunteer@pih.org with information on your credentials, language capabilities (Haitian Creole or French desired), availability, and contact information.

As phone lines in Haiti remain down and transportation and communication are difficult, PIH is still in the process of determining where we can set up operations in Port-au-Prince, and how we can transport patients and volunteers to our sites. We will be able to offer more concrete information after these logistical matters are resolved.

Once again – thank you for your support.  Kenbe fèm.

Related :

Become a Fan of Medicins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders). Here

Visit the Haitian Earthquake Relief Facebook page. Here.

Reports of Disinformation spreading:

The report circulating on Twitter and Facebook claiming that American Airlines is flying medical teams to Haiti for free is a fabrication. The story seemed a little too good to be true to us, so we called American Airlines corporate headquarters in Dallas to look into it. The Airline says it is contributing to the relief effort through the American Red Cross, but says it is not flying doctors and nurses to Haiti.

The company sent us the following official statement:

“Our humanitarian flights out of San Juan to PAP continue again today. We’ve incentivized our 62 million AAdvantage members to give cash to Red Cross and receive bonus miles from us.

Last night’s hoax on Twitter about American and Jet Blue flying doctors and nurses to Haiti for free was just that — a hoax. We do not know who is responsible.  We cannot fly any passenger flights to Haiti at this time (U.S. Military in control of airport) and our efforts on the humanitarian front are as described above. We do not yet know when we will be allowed to resume passenger flights.”

A similar story suggesting that the United Parcel Service is shipping packages under 50 pounds to Haiti for free is also fabricated. The company tells the Miami Tribune that is donating $1 million to the relief effort instead.

The moral for bloggers and other citizen journalists? Your seemingly harmless Tweet or Facebook posting is potentially a powerful weapon of mass disinformation. So stop and think for a second before you pull the trigger. Take a moment to consider the report you’re reposting before you pass it on. Does the story make sense? Is it logical? Or does it – well – sound just a little too good to be true?  If the source provides contact information, do what a good reporter would do and call to check.  (As it turns out, the number provided for American Airlines is actually for the Honduran Consulate in New York. American Airlines is based in Dallas.) Don’t simply assume that a story checks out because somebody you know said so.

Update: Surgeons, nurses, and other medical personnel needed to help in Haiti

We are deeply grateful for the multitude of people who have contacted us wanting to provide medical assistance. At this time, while we wish we could use all of the support so generously offered, we are unable to accommodate any volunteers without significant surgical or trauma training and experience.

We are in need of: orthopedic surgeons, trauma surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists, OR nurses, post-op nurses, and surgical technicians.

If your qualifications match this need, please fill out the following form ..