Seek­ing game-chang­ing ideas to solve global prob­lems

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS ASIDES & INSIDES -

It’s per­haps most fa­mous for hand­ing out an­nual “genius” grants to aca­demics and artists. But now the MacArthur Foun­da­tion has its sights set on big­ger game: solv­ing a global prob­lem.

Out of 1,900 pro­pos­als, it se­lected eight semi­fi­nal­ists for the $100 mil­lion prize. Five deal with health­care-related is­sues: mal­nu­tri­tion, cataracts, unin­sured Amer­i­cans, new­born deaths in Africa and river blind­ness.

Ti­tled 100&Change, the com­pe­ti­tion was open to or­ga­ni­za­tions in any field any­where in the world as long as the pro­posal iden­ti­fied a prob­lem af­fect­ing peo­ple, or the en­tire planet, and a way to solve it. The health­care semi­fi­nal­ists are:

The Carter Cen­ter’s project tar­gets river blind­ness, which “af­fects an es­ti­mated 32.7 mil­lion peo­ple world­wide,” ac­cord­ing to the foun­da­tion. The goal is teach­ing vol­un­teers to give the drug iver­mectin (Mec­ti­zan, do­nated by Merck & Co.), ini­tially in Nige­ria and then other coun­tries.

Har­vestPlus is tar­get­ing mal­nu­tri­tion in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. The group pro­poses us­ing con­ven­tional plant breed­ing to en­hance sta­ple crops, start­ing in Nige­ria, Uganda and

Zam­bia.

The Hi­malayan Cataract Project wants to train com­mu­nity care­givers to of­fer in­ex­pen­sive cataract and laser surgery, be­gin­ning in Nepal, Ethiopia and Ghana.

The Hu­man Di­ag­no­sis Project wants to part­ner with physi­cian so­ci­eties, li­cens­ing boards and aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions to treat pa­tients via tele­health. The Rice 360° In­sti­tute for Global

Health from Rice Univer­sity aims to pro­vide ed­u­ca­tion and low-cost tech­nol­ogy and care in Africa for help in “keep­ing ba­bies warm, help­ing them breathe, di­ag­nos­ing in­fec­tions, treat­ing neona­tal jaun­dice, man­ag­ing la­bor and de­liv­ery,” the foun­da­tion said.

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