Improving the health of people is in the midst of a massive transformation. The necessity of a shift in emphasis from purely illness therapies to preventive care is now accepted. Less understood is how to take the next huge step to person-centered, holistic wellbeing. Communicable diseases are still a problem, with deadly virus outbreaks in a few places and rising antibiotic resistance in many places. More daunting is the tidal wave of malnourished children and adults contributing to the parallel explosion of non-communicable diseases -- for which behavior change and chronic disease management are poorly executed by existing healthcare systems. The advent of new remote diagnostics and monitoring, genome-based precision medicine, and mobile technology and big data to extend access and enable more personalized care are increasingly cited as potential solutions. But the real impact has yet to be seen – particularly for the billions of disadvantaged people around the world.
We must go beyond illness care and beyond prevention: Vitalness
Ashoka, along with key partners is keenly involved in understanding and facilitating this transition: Illness care to Vitalness, drawing on our unique global network of 600+ fellows - social entrepreneurs who are at the leading edge of innovation in health and wellbeing, and supporting them and others in demonstrating solutions.
How can we catalyze Vitalness?
The future of health will be driven not by hospitals but community based health workers. Ashoka Fellow led organizations have pioneered the focus on last mile health delivery through various initiatives, for both products and services. The challenges of scale still remain, but more importantly, the challenges of coordinated knowledge sharing and growing capacity together is limited.
Eg: A health worker in one NGO is screening for diabetes but not for eye diseases. Some other NGO is checking for anaemia but not for breast cancer.
Ashoka is now in the process of building a national coalition of last mile health delivery providers in India and enable a platform for sharing and learning from each other. Also this platform will help aggregate demand from various providers to enable efficient utilization of resources. Potential partners to such a platform could be product companies – eyewear, pharma companies, nutrition companies, and health products and service companies – immunization providers, cardiac hospitals, diagnostics companies and others.
The network will have three objectives:
- Awareness: Knowledge sharing and learning between the members,
- Empower: Convening meetings on a regular basis for highlighting the learnings and creating knowledge products for wider dissemination.
- Capacity building: The network members will help each other train local entrepreneurs or health workers in creating infrastructure for last mile health delivery, by supporting them on the financial and management side.
This year also marked the beginning of a new era, with the countries around the world taking stock of the Millenium Development Goals. While progress had been made, it was not enough and under the auspices of United Nations, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals were proposed and adopted on Sept 25th 2015. Of particular interest to the Vitalness Initiative are Goals 3 and 17.
Goal 3: Ensure Healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages
Goal 17: Sustainability - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.At Ashoka we believe that the collaborative partnerships amongst Ashoka Fellows and other stake holders, including corporations, donors, governments and individuals will be key to reach the key SDG goals, and also build the foundation for a better health for generations to come.To learn more about Vitalness and join the coalition, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org