By Katherine Miller, Executive Director of Communications, UN Foundation
So we’ve been trapped at the Rockefeller Center at Bellagio for three days now talking about mHealth. While it may seem like an easy job — who doesn’t want to spend a week in Italy, after all — it isn’t. Some of the most experienced global health professionals are here and everyone is trying to figure out what their role, their project, their initiative is.
But after nearly a full day of brainstorming, something very exciting happened: our groups came up with five unique yet complimentary projects to help improve health care in the developing world. While its too early to talk specifics, these projects include using hand-mobile devices to deliver health care in rural areas; control and ultimately prevent disease outbreaks; improve the quality of life for patients with chronic diseases; and could lead to greater collaboration among some of the world’s biggest and best technology companies.
At least I hope so. The best part of the day was listening to the groups run through their nascent business plans and take questions from their colleagues. Not an easy thing to do but they all did it and tomorrow, on Day 4, we’re going to try and figure out how to make these projects real.
The other thing happening here is a true recognition that partnerships and working together will actually help us to move mHealth into the developing world more quickly. In the beginning, the developers sat with the developers and the corporates with corporates but by day three each of the groups had representatives from each sector and they we’re all excited to share expertise, advice and ideas.
A really interesting partnership that I have learned about here is the Millennium Villages Project. This project, which is active in more than 20 villages is looking at how to provide education, health care and other services from the ground up. Included in the project are Gates, Ericsson (which is providing the hardware for the villages) and numerous other groups. While still in the early stages, Earth Institute (Jefrey Sach’s group) is leading it and it shows great promise as a way to make a big difference in people’s lives.