Health innovation: Technology + Entrepreneurs + Institutions

by Anjali Sastry on December 12, 2010

A brand-new special issue of BMC International Health and Human Rights features a special collection on Health innovation in sub-Saharan Africa. The papers present examples from Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda of how science and technology innovations are connected to entrepreneurship and institutions in specific examples. The very first article takes on a question that framed our fall class: novel, contextually-appropriate buisiness models and technological innovations that address health challenges more cost-effectively have emerged in places like India, China, and Brazil (we may add Bangladesh and Jamaica from our own discussions, too), but where are the examples in African countries?

Read the interesting papers, all open-access, to learn more, presenting what the authors note is the first extensive collection of empirical work on African science-based health innovation. Four country cases examine Ghana, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. There’s more, too, on a manufacturer, an incubator, venture capital, and research and development institutions.

How are innovators helping to build technological capacity, create economic opportunities, and retain talent? What are some of the practical challenges? How could policies, funding streams, and other supports enable more and better innovation that furthers both health and economic development? Rather than focusing only on the technologies, the papers cross domains to look at these questions, so they are worth reading carefully.

Meanwhile, the nine organizations that student teams profiled in our class will offer another take on similar questions, albeit at a high level and vast distance. In the weeks ahead, we’ll be sharing profiles of Nyaya Health in Nepal, Village Health Works in Burundi, Jamaica’s Heart Institute of the Caribbean, Living Goods in Uganda, MedPlus clinics in India, Smile Train’s global operations, Sproxil’s efforts in varied settings, Medicines for Malaria Ventures’ partnership model, and Mexico’s Mi Farmacita.

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