Information and stories about technology news.

Healthcare in Brazil
After the end of a 20-year military dictatorship, significant action began to take place regarding healthcare in Brazil. As a result of the long political struggle, healthcare as a right became enshrined in the Constitution in 1988. The Sistema Único de Saúde is the name of the public healthcare system in Brazil. Decentralized in its nature, both state and federal governments finance the system.

After a major reform in 1996, nearly 70% of the Brazilian population uses this system. The people who need it the most are those who cannot afford private health insurance, which tends to be the lower middle class, especially those who live in impoverished areas like the favelas. According to James Macinko, an associate professor of public health, the reform resulted in “Brazil [having] the lowest rate of catastrophic health expenditures (2.2 percent) of nearly any other country in the region.”

How the System Works

The system’s promise is providing equitable healthcare in Brazil, regardless of one’s socioeconomic background. As a result, many people of lower socioeconomic backgrounds received healthcare. In 1994, the government started an initiative called the Family Health Strategy. The program intended to provide healthcare services in people’s homes. While the intention of the program was not to strictly target the poor, those who reaped the greatest benefits were people of low income and living in impoverished areas.

The program was a medical success. It improved data accuracy regarding mortality, increased immunization rates to 100% and reduced unnecessary hospitalization for chronic diseases. However, most critically, it reduced the inequity in access and utilization of healthcare services. The government also created a program called Mais Medicos in 2013 which resulted in many foreign doctors (mainly from Cuba) arriving in Brazil and being placed in marginalized communities that lacked much-needed medical care.

Recurring Issues

The situation of healthcare in Brazil does raise a lot of concerns. For one, it is still sensitive to political and economic pressures. An example of this occurred in 2014 when Brazil experienced a deep recession. This resulted in the government taking austerity policies after failing to improve the economy through other means. These other means include price controls and stimulus packages. This led to lower tax revenues and significant cuts in healthcare during 2015.

On the political side, there is a recent example of Prime Minister Jair Bolsonaro capitalizing on the unpopularity of Cuban doctors by the Brazilian medical community. In the process, he made offensive accusations against the foreign professionals, required the doctors to take examinations to practice medicine in Brazil, forbade the Cuban government from taking away 75% of the doctors’ wages and mandated the doctors to have their families move to Brazil. This series of actions have alienated both the Cuban government as well as the Cuban medical practitioners which resulted in many leaving the country. This created a hole and vacuum that the government has tried yet failed to fill using Brazilian doctors. As of January 2019, 1,533 positions remain unfilled. The people who suffer most are the marginalized communities who desperately need those doctors.

Brazil’s Healthcare and Technology

Strong suggestions have emerged that one way to make Brazilian healthcare more resilient is by adding more investments to the existing infrastructure in order to make it more adequate. When it comes to making healthcare in Brazil more efficient, the leading solution providers are tech startups. They hone the power of technological innovation to address the inefficiencies in the system. One example is the startup iClinic, a Software as a Service that helps doctors with visitor management, organization of electronic records and remote telehealth consultations. It has had 22,000 customers which represent 7.5% of the market share.

On the mobile front, there are apps like Dieta e Saude. This has helped over a million and a half people make better choices regarding their dietary and exercise routines. When it comes to prescriptions, Memed is a startup that has emerged to fill the dire need for e-prescription management. It provides its services to more than 50,000 doctors. Errors occur in over 77% of prescriptions due to a lack of digitization. E-prescription management services help by reducing those errors through the use of scanning.

These are just some of the examples that make healthcare in Brazil more efficient, cost-effective and less dependent on the public healthcare system. As a result of these factors, public healthcare in Brazil will be in less need of government spending and less sensitive to political and economic pressures.

– Mustafa Ali
Photo: Pixabay

4 innovative solutions that are helping refugees

In the world today, there are nearly 26 million refugees who have been forced to flee their homes due to persecution and ongoing conflict. Refugees are among the world’s most vulnerable populations and are at risk of severe physical and mental health repercussions. Despite the limited access to resources and the substandard conditions that refugees face daily, advancements and innovations in refugee camps have eased these burdens. In times of strife and hardship, people can create something extraordinary and beneficial for society. Here are four innovative solutions that are helping refugees manage life in refugee camps.

4 Innovative Solutions Aiding Refugees

  1. Last Mile Mobile Solutions (LMMS), a World Vision program, was created to improve efficacy and accountability in humanitarian service delivery. This innovative technological solution ensures that aid recipients are tracked without error, rations are precisely calculated and dispensed and online reports are immediately accessible for stakeholders and donors who are at the base of key operations. LMMS also helps address issues affecting aid deliverance, including prolonged wait times, inaccurate tracking of supplies and inventory and errors in allotments to families. This program has been established in more than 30 countries by 20 different humanitarian groups, registering more than 10 million aid recipients.
  2. In Jordan’s Za’atari camp, Syrian refugees are converting caravans into serviceable facilities, such as shops, homes and furniture. A 2014 study asserts that nearly 64% of Za’atari’s businesses work from caravans. It is also estimated that approximately 10% of women in Za’atari are operating craft-making and other businesses from these adaptable vehicles. Most of the shops’ shelving, signs, and general household items are made from the same wood paneling that comes from these caravans’ flooring. Through the conversion and adaptive use of caravans, Syrian refugees have shown that there are creative ways to use the resources available to them to obtain a higher quality of life.
  3. Community kitchens in camps such as the Kutupalong refugee camp are equipped with gas stoves, allowing many refugee mothers to feed their families nutritious food and minimizing the dangers of cooking with an open fire. This innovative solution is a frugal choice when it comes to getting daily meals. Because of its implementation, refugees do not have to buy firewood and can better allocate their money toward food and other necessities. Beyond this, community kitchens are much more than safe areas to cook and affordable cooking alternatives. These are places where women get together and empower each other to become leaders in their communities, help each other solve problems and make informed decisions for their families’ well-being.
  4. Hand-made dynamos have changed the tides in Kenya’s Kakuma camp. Kakuma is not connected to the national power grid, so homes and businesses depend on solar power and generators to generate electricity daily. William, a Burundian installation expert, has been the go-to mechanic for dozens of business owners who need electricity in the camp. He once used an old treadmill to build a dynamo and has been redesigning the devices based upon the accessibility of resources, including fans and condensers from trashed air conditioners. In his workshops, William trains refugees so they can bring a set of general skills to meet the challenges in refugee camps.

Refugees and allied partners have shown their resourcefulness and resilience when placed in challenging situations. Many refugees do not allow the substandard living conditions they must reside in to hold back their desire to change the unfavorable systems and their circumstances. Refugees have demonstrated that innovative solutions come in many forms and that building community is key to improving refugees’ quality of life.

—Sarah Uddin
Photo: Flickr

Podcasts Bringing Attention to Foreign Policy
Over the years, there has been a shift in popularity from traditional media to mass media outlets—specifically podcasts. Whether for entertainment or education, podcasts help leave listeners with engaging and insightful information. Here are five podcasts bringing attention to foreign policy and international relations in the United States.

5 Podcasts Bringing Attention to Foreign Policy

  1. Fault Lines: The National Security Institute’s (NSI) “Fault Lines” explores hard-hitting national security and foreign policy issues with guests representing both sides of the political spectrum. This foreign policy podcast features four recurring hosts; NSI Founder and Executive Director Jamil N. Jaffer, NSI Senior Fellow and former Staff Director of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Lester Munson, Former Staff Director of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Jod Herman and Former Senior Democratic Staffer for the Middle East on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Dana Stroul. With over 40 episodes, the podcast covers topics some topics including attempted coups and virus crackdowns in Latin America; the United States’ approach to international agreements and treaties; and U.S.-Iran relations. Some episodes to check out related to foreign aid are episode 14, “Can the U.S. solve foreign crises before they start?” and episode 19, “Aid in the time of COVID.”
  2. Global Dispatches: One of the podcasts bringing attention to foreign policy is “Global Dispatches.” This show is hosted by Mark Leon Goldberg. He is the editor of the United Nations global affairs blog “UN Dispatch.” He invites guests ranging from journalists to Nobel Peace Prize winners to discuss minimally covered global issues. This foreign policy podcast is committed to having an equal number and men and women appear as guests. Examples of guests include journalist Robin Wright, political policymaker U.S. Senator Chris Murphy and scholar Joseph Nye. This podcast features episodes dating back to 2013. It covers topics like the “girl effect” in international development. It also talks about the impact of energy poverty on job growth in the developing world and the consequences of others excluding women from peace talks. An episode to listen to related to foreign aid and global poverty is episode 235, “How better data can fight global hunger.” One could also listen to episode 283, “New trends in global trade are changing how women work in developing countries.”
  3. Pod Save the World: “Pod Save the World” is another one of the podcasts bringing attention to foreign policy. This weekly podcast breaks down the latest developments in international news and foreign policy. Former member of President Obama’s National Security Council Tommy Vietor and former Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes host “Pod Save the World,” interviewing experts on foreign policy issues as well as witnesses of major political decisions. With weekly episodes airing since January 2017, this podcast has covered a variety of topics with numerous guests. One notable episode addressing women’s involvement in foreign affairs is episode six, titled “Running the state department with Heather Higginbottom.” This talk discusses Higginbottom’s journey to becoming the first woman to serve as Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources. It also contains topics like refugee vetting, pandemic response and current women in foreign policy.
  4. The President’s Inbox: Sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, host James M. Lindsay delves into a variety of foreign policy challenges facing U.S. President Donald J. Trump during his time in office. Each week, Lindsay invites two experts on a specific foreign policy issue to discuss their opinions on how to solve it. This foreign policy podcast is recorded and uploaded until the week of the Iowa caucuses. Topics covered include the effects of the coronavirus in the Middle East, the challenging landscape of domestic terrorism and the impact of women in political power. A few episodes to check out relating to the United States’ involvement with developing countries include episode five, “Should the United States do Less Overseas?” and episode 27, “U.S. Global Leadership Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic.”
  5. Foreign Podicy: Host Cliff May discusses U.S. national security and foreign policy on his podcast “Foreign Podicy.” May is also the founder and president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a nonpartisan policy institute created after 9/11 dedicated to national security. This podcast offers over 60 episodes covering regions like the Middle East, South America and Central Asia as well as issues such as the use of military power, extremism and socialism. A few episodes related to developing countries include episode 28, “The Uses of Military Power,” episode 39, “Syria’s Sorrow and Pity,” and episode 59, “The Failing State of Lebanon.”

With the popularity of podcasts continually rising, the topics they cover are endless. With the help of these podcasts bringing attention to foreign policy, listeners gain unique perspectives on issues all over the world.

– Sara Holm
Photo: Pixabay

Ride-Sharing Apps
The inability to access or drive a car can be a critical reason why many individuals remain in poverty. The costs of gas, insurance, monthly installments and upkeep can be too high even for individuals who live in rural areas, where cars are a necessity. Lacking a reliable means of independent transportation can prove to be a barrier to potential employment. Many tout transit systems as a significant source of assistance for low-income individuals; however, this system is not accessible for those in rural areas. Ride-sharing apps provide considerable potential for resolving this issue and ultimately improving the lives of thousands.

Saving Gas Money

The costs of commuting can make specific job opportunities prohibitive for low-income people. However, with the global rise of carpool services like UberPOOL and LyftLine, individuals who usually would not be able to afford a long commute may be able to do so. A ride shared with four people can prove significantly cheaper than a tank of gas.

Reducing Pollution and Natural Disasters

Car emissions are not the most significant contributor to pollution. However, carbon dioxide and other noxious chemical emissions created by cars still produce a considerable dent. A study by MIT concluded that ride-sharing could reduce the number of vehicles on the road by at least 33%.

In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, ride-sharing apps could also help reduce the severity of impacts following weather-related disasters. Bangladesh and Pakistan, for instance, are currently dealing with unprecedented flooding. Many low-income individuals in these countries do not have the funds to relocate or repair their homes. Ride-sharing could have the ripple effect of mitigating natural disasters by aiding in this process, which could ultimately become pivotal for communities living in poverty.

Commuting Without Car Payments

Based on global averages, car payments cost the equivalent of $300-$500, except for in countries where luxury cars are standard. Additionally, factors like loan size and credit requirements can make car investments unattainable for many individuals. However, one ride using a ride-sharing app costs less than a gas tank. The amount of money saved by avoiding individual car payments can be incredibly beneficial by enabling individuals to allocate more funds to their family’s needs including food, housing and education.

Providing Opportunities for Employment

For car owners, providing shared rides can function as a source of income. While Uber and Lyft have several limiting requirements, many other popular ride-sharing apps worldwide have less restrictive rules. Such services include Gett, Bolt, Cabify and Didi. The ability to attain full-time work with only a small initial cost may be inaccessible for people living in severe poverty. Still, it could become a useful means of bridging the income gap for individuals who can afford a car payment.

A Work in Progress

Ride-sharing apps must apply to users requesting similar routes to function correctly. Apps are regularly updated to allow inquiries to reach specific vehicles, ultimately facilitating an efficient process. Continuous algorithm improvement means that there is potential for ride-sharing apps to extend their influence outside of major cities and into the rural areas where low-income individuals need them the most. Additionally, ride-sharing apps currently depend on driver input; with self-driving cars on the horizon, it may soon become possible for the impoverished in rural areas to have greater access to transportation through ride-sharing apps.

Ride-sharing apps are also struggling with a lack of regulations and safety measures for drivers and passengers. However, further rules and restrictions are gradually being implemented to handle these issues.

Ride-sharing has the fantastic potential to provide people across the globe with the myriad benefits of transportation. For low-income individuals struggling to reach their destinations through predetermined public transit routes, ride-sharing offers a feasible and relatively affordable alternative. Additionally, the implementation of vetting processes will mitigate many safety issues currently present in the industry. Ride-sharing has already proven to improve the convenience of life for many, but this system has the power to leave an incredibly positive impact on low-income individuals.

– Hannah Bratton
Photo: Flickr

Video Advocacy in AfricaWITNESS Media Lab, a nonprofit based in the Brooklyn neighborhood of New York City, protects human rights. How? By providing victims of social injustice with technology resources, verification platforms and video curation methods. Global internet users have increased by approximately three billion between 2005 and 2019 due to increasing access to mobile technology. Video advocacy in Africa is now being used to expose gross injustices, across the continent.

Platforms like WITNESS extend human rights advocacy toward the field of technology. WITNESS uses film footage to publicize global crimes against humanity. Also, impoverished communities reach a large audience through film resources that help contextualize and disseminate eyewitness documentation.

The Borgen Project spoke with Adebayo Okeowo, WITNESS Africa Program Manager and human rights lawyer, to gain insight on WITNESS’s involvement in Africa. In 2017, internet access in sub-Saharan Africa increased to 25%, providing approximately 25% of the population with access to online, human rights resources.

A Digitized Form of Advocacy

Video advocacy is film footage used to publicize humanitarian issues that require international attention. WITNESS provides resources on video production and curation, allowing documented forms of injustice to reach a wider audience. Once issues of injustice receive global attention, influential policymakers and human rights lawyers are more likely to intervene.

According to The World Bank, “eight of the ten most unequal countries in the world, when looking at the Gini coefficient, are in sub-Saharan Africa.” Socioeconomic conditions such as income inequality, government corruption and inequitable tax systems lead to high levels of disparity in impoverished African nations. As inequality rises in Africa, remote villages face an increased likelihood of war and violence. Here, video advocacy in Africa holds great potential for change. WITNESS helps reduce inequality by assisting in the publication and preservation of videos that expose injustices.

Capturing Global Attention

Although internet access has risen in sub-Saharan Africa, remote communities face challenges in bringing global awareness to humanitarian issues. For instance, inadequate IT infrastructure and poor Wi-Fi connection can lead to a decline in internet access. This, in turn, decreases the number of users who document and publicize acts of injustice. This presents a challenge for video advocacy in Africa. Furthermore, rural African communities lack global attention, to begin with. This, in turn, makes it difficult for humanitarian crises to gain traction in the media.

Okeowo stated that when the 2015 Baga massacre occurred in the same week as the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, hashtags like #JeSuisCharlie trended on Twitter while the mass killing of approximately 2,000 Nigerians failed to reach global news. Okeowo told The Borgen Project that “we must double our efforts in prioritizing interventions in every corner where there is injustice, but more especially in the forgotten places.”

Justice for Child Soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

In 2012, WITNESS partnered with AJEDI-Ka, a local nonprofit in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The aim was to assist in the conviction of militia leader Thomas Lubanga Dyilo. WITNESS and AJEDI-Ka presented two films comprising video documentation of Lubanga recruiting child soldiers to the International Criminal Court (ICC). As a result, the ICC sentenced Lubanga to 14 years in prison for the war crime of enlisting child soldiers under the age of 15.

The video documentation, ranging back to 2003, initiated an ICC investigation by providing general information on Lubanga’s war crimes. WITNESS, AJEDI-Ka and the ICC protected the human rights of potential child soldiers by holding Lubanga accountable for breaking international law. The 2012 ICC verdict and the 2014 upheld conviction signaled a warning to future militia leaders planning to recruit children for military purposes.

Okeowo told The Borgen Project that film publication “is not so much about how many eyes see the video, but that the right set of eyes see the video.” WITNESS is one of the leading organizations using video documentation to bring justice to impoverished areas, representing approximately 135 countries globally.

– Madeline Zuzevich
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Innovations in Poverty Eradication in Bulgaria
The past three decades have resulted in a fluctuating economy within Bulgaria. Specifically, the global financial crisis of 2008 has left the country with insolvency. Despite this hardship, Bulgaria continues to rise on the Global Competitiveness Report, coming in at 49 out of 144 countries. Advancements in the information communications technology (ICT) sector has played a large part in their resiliency and may be the key to innovations in poverty eradication in Bulgaria.

The Global Competitiveness Report

The Global Competitiveness Report measures a number of pillars. Since the implementation of its national strategy for poverty eradication in Bulgaria in 2015, Bulgaria has significantly improved its Global Competitiveness Report ranking in the 12th pillar: innovation capability. In 2015, it ranked 94 out of 140 countries. In 2019, its ranking jumped to 48 out of 141 countries.

In 2018, the Global Competitiveness Report added an additional pillar for ICT adoption. Bulgaria currently ranks 30 out of 141 countries on this pillar. From 2016 to 2018, there was a 300% growth in the Bulgarian ICT workforce. To paint a more detailed picture, the industry went from 5,000 to 20,000 workers.

What is ICT?

People may best know Bulgaria for its software industry, namely educational software, financial services software, analytical software and Manufacturing Execution System (MES) management software. Of the E.U. members, many regard Bulgaria as having the best performing ICT sector. In addition, Bulgaria houses approximately 10,000 ICT companies. This may be due to the low corporate tax rates of 10%.

ICT Organizations for Marginalized Citizens

A subsequent factor of poverty is social exclusion. Gaps in employment and educational opportunities create social barriers for poverty-ridden areas. Despite 71% of Bulgarian homes having access to high-speed internet, only 41% of citizens have basic computer skills. The following organizations have devoted themselves to mending this gap:

  • Telerik Academy: Telerik Academy is a free educational program for Bulgarian citizens that teaches computer literacy and key digital competencies for careers in the ICT software sector. Its founders, Svetozar Georgiev, Boyko Iaramov, Vassil Terziev and Hristo Kosev, created Telerik Academy in 2009 as a way to train people for their company’s ICT needs. Shortly after, Telerik expanded its services to reach anyone wanting to develop skills for future ICT careers. Telerik Academy has serviced over 115,000 Bulgarian children and professionals in its first 10 years.
  •  The Bulgarian Centre for Women in Technology (BCWT): The Bulgarian Centre for Women in Technology (BCWT) is another important organization in the ICT sector. Since its start in 2012, the BCWT has devoted its efforts to diminishing gender stereotypes in the ICT realm by motivating females to pursue careers in science and technology. In 2015, Bulgaria had the highest percentage of EU female ICT workers with 27.7%. The BCWT has a number of past and ongoing initiatives that have contributed to this ranking. Enterpregirl, for example, is a competition that invites young Bulgarian women to present their innovative ICT-related projects. The goal is to develop confidence in young women’s entrepreneurship skills in a field that has been historically reserved for men.

Bulgaria’s ICT sector has remained on a steady incline for the past five years, with no intention of slowing down. Bulgaria’s growing software industry proves to aid with innovations in poverty eradication. Organizations like Telerik Academy and BCWT are crucial in closing the employment and educational gaps that ultimately fortify poverty. Despite the country’s insolvency, Bulgaria remains dedicated to poverty eradication in Bulgaria through ICT education and opportunities.

– Sage Ahrens-Nichols
Photo: Flickr

local production of medical suppliesAs developing countries struggle to meet their medical supply needs, many organizations have attempted to address these needs through the global supply chain. However, this system is often inefficient and inadequate for helping developing countries. Empowering struggling communities through the local production of medical supplies may be the key to improving medical care throughout the world.

Not Enough Oxygen

When working to improve healthcare in developing countries, aid organizations often struggle to supply adequate medical supplies in a timely manner. Supply shortages mean that these organizations fail to provide enough medical resources for these countries.

This lack of medical supplies is especially problematic during a pandemic such as COVID-19. While the pandemic has increased the need for oxygen in medical care, developing countries face the worst oxygen supply shortages. Estimates place the annual number of newborn deaths due to lack of oxygen at around 500,000.

In regions struggling with COVID-19, like Africa and the Middle East, oxygen shortages can be disastrous. Transporting oxygen tanks to these countries from the U.S. and Europe is often not efficient in cost or time. As such, the global supply chain for oxygen cannot supply these countries with what they need in a timely manner.

Not Enough Equipment

What’s more, the current response assumes that developed countries have enough supplies to meet global medical needs. This is not the case, however. According to the WHO, the global supply of personal protective equipment needed to effectively prevent the spread of COVID-19 only meets 60% of global demand. The WHO estimates that the world needs 89 million medical masks and 76 million medical gloves each month to combat the virus effectively.

These global supply chain shortages affect access to vaccines in impoverished communities in particular. More than a quarter of all vaccines have three or fewer distributers. This severely limits the access that poorer communities have to vaccines. Further, these distributors often headquarter exclusively in developed countries. This can make it even more difficult for developing countries to acquire enough vaccines to meet their own medical needs. Africa, for example, only has one vaccine manufacturer that is a member of the Developing Countries Vaccine Manufacturers Network.

Encouraging the Local Production of Medical Supplies

Rather than relying on an already struggling global supply chain, it may help more to encourage the local production of medical supplies in these countries. Having local manufacturing plants would allow vital medical equipment to reach impoverished communities much more quickly and efficiently than it otherwise could.

Since April 2020, an organization called Assist International has worked with manufacturing plants in Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia. These plants provide a local source of oxygen tanks to hospitals in these countries. So far, the program has helped more than 40 hospitals in Africa, creating a cheap and efficient system for the local production of medical supplies.

Implementing Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing also provides a possible solution to the problem of medical supply shortages. This style of manufacturing allows for the quick and cost-effective production of important medical supplies. These may include mechanical parts for ventilators, surgical equipment and even prosthetics. 3D printing is a particularly versatile tool, since it can produce different kinds of equipment without unique machinery for each. Once installed in local production facilities, 3D printers can then support a variety of production purposes. They would therefore streamline the process of the local production of medical supplies in impoverished communities.

Medical supply shortages for developing countries are an especially pressing issue. As the world faces a pandemic and global supply chains begin to fracture, many developing countries cannot meet their medical needs. Working to empower impoverished communities through the local production of medical supplies and additive manufacturing may alleviate the strain on these countries’ medical systems.

Marshall Kirk
Photo: Wikimedia

Limited access to healthcare is a challenge that millions of people face globally. According to data collected by the World Bank and W.H.O., roughly half of the global population had no way to access necessary health services in December 2017. The high costs of getting healthcare forced nearly 100 million people into poverty that year. For hundreds of millions of people across the world, even basic healthcare is economically out of reach. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has put additional strain on healthcare systems around the globe. The pandemic has disrupted medicine supply chains in many parts of the world, preventing vital medical supplies from reaching hospitals in a timely manner. This is particularly dangerous for developing countries with healthcare systems that were already struggling to meet their countries’ needs. However, recent technological innovations like BraineHealth are seeking to revolutionize healthcare to overcome these issues.

How BraineHealth Can Help

This problem may seem insurmountable, but not to BraineHealth. The Swedish company is hoping to use artificial intelligence and robotics to make healthcare more accessible for people throughout the world. BraineHealth’s healthcare innovations can apply many areas of healthcare, such as primary healthcare, senior healthcare and mental health services. In all these areas, BraineHealth hopes to connect doctors and other medical professionals with their patients in a way that is easy, affordable and safe.

With BraineHealth’s system, patients could potentially receive diagnoses and expert medical consultations without having to leave their homes. This would reduce medical costs and travel expenses for patients, and it would provide a safer alternative to in-person appointments. Here are four BraineHealth programs that seek to revolutionize healthcare.

4 BraineHealth Programs Revolutionizing Healthcare

  1. Artificial Intelligence: BraineHealth is developing an AI program that will allow for quicker and more efficient remote diagnoses. This program receives information about a patient’s symptoms provided by the patient and analyzes this report. By examining it against a database of thousands of documented diagnoses, the algorithm can provide as accurate a diagnosis as possible.
  2. Diabetio: This program combines social robotics and artificial intelligence to assist diabetic patients with managing their diabetes. The Diabetio robot will help manage the patient’s carbohydrate intake, and it will keep the patient informed about whether they are at risk of developing diabetes. To help the patient most efficiently, this program will retain and process information about the patient’s daily activities.
  3. Medipacker: BraineHealth is also looking to revolutionize healthcare by expanding access to medical information and education through its Medipacker education program. This program aims to give backpackers the opportunity to become qualified first-aid providers at little to no cost. By removing economic barriers to first-aid education, BraineHealth hopes to encourage more people around the world to learn about emergency medicine.
  4. InEmpathy: Recently, BraineHealth has partnered with the charity InEmpathy. InEmpathy’s work focuses on building better systems of healthcare in developing countries. Crucially, this organization is now helping to bring BraineHealth’s technological innovations to communities in need. BraineHealth will therefore be able to adapt its technologies to best fit the needs of their destination countries.

Looking to the Future

Millions worldwide lack adequate access to healthcare. Even in areas that have hospitals, the costs of health services are often too high for poor communities. Using technological innovation, BraineHealth is working to revolutionize healthcare so that the people in these communities can have access to healthcare that would otherwise be out of reach.

Marshall Kirk
Photo: Flickr

Tech Industry in South AsiaAs recently as a few decades ago, the pursuit of worldly education and career in Western countries was a badge of fame for South Asians. India, Pakistan and other South Asian nations could not offer the same level of job opportunity as the West. Therefore, many people in the educated class chose to emigrate in hopes of a wealthier lifestyle. Two factors contributed to this trend – the lack of opportunities at home and the increased quality of life abroad. At one point, over 80% of the graduates from India’s most prestigious university, IIT, used to pursue opportunities abroad.

As a result, the tech industry in South Asia fell to a baseline, sustaining itself without thriving. However, a phenomenon is occurring that has been dubbed a ‘reverse exodus’. Many of the South Asian professionals that emigrated to the West have returned to their mother country. This mass-return of individuals to their home countries is causing a boom in the industries that traditionally experienced what is known as ‘brain-drain’ (the loss of skilled professionals to emigration).

These five factors are integral to understanding the resurgence of the tech industry in South Asia.

5 Factors Causing The Resurging Tech Industry in South Asia

1. One of the major reasons behind the reverse exodus is for family. Parents that had once wanted their children to grow up in Western nations are returning to South Asia after a strong development in the education sector. Allowing children to grow up alongside a larger, more connected family creates a stronger bond than when oceans separate families. In addition, the parents of these emigrated high-skilled tech professionals are aging. The choice is to “bring them there or return home.” Oftentimes, the family will choose to return to their mother country to care for their aging parents.

2. The rapid development of South Asian opportunities pulls professionals back home. Rich with a younger population well-versed in global technology and a large market for labor, South Asia’s economy is on the cusp of a boom. This is recognized not only on the global economic scale but by the individuals choosing to return as well. In an interview conducted with a returnee, Ram, he notes that “there were opportunities in India – India is growing”. Ram already has a family and was advancing in his career steadily. However, the economic opportunity offered to him if he returned home was a stronger pull than anything in the West.

3. Industry specific zones are springing up, allowing clusters of innovation and clusters of returnees from the West. One example of this cluster effect is the Andhra Pradesh MedTech Zone in India, where medicinal technology is being innovated and discovered at a rapid rate. Medical and technology professionals from the West that returned to this sector find themselves surrounded by a silicon-valley type industry cluster. They also find clusters of similar-minded people. Returnee Ram meets people from Chicago and other US cities: “in the community of people (…) it’s like a mini-US”.

4. Capital for businesses is now readily available in South Asia. After the economy surged forward, jobs became widely available. Funding was plentiful for those that wished to start their own businesses. The IT industry hosts a yearly gathering in California for individuals who might want to return to South Asia. Companies like Intel, Amazon and Yahoo have started to attend the job fair. These potential opportunities for job growth pull many of the interested population back home. The job market and capital is potentially more accessible than in the West.

5. Government support is present for those that want to return and pursue a higher standard of living. Ram noted that entrepreneurial activities are “open to everyone”, fully accessible to anyone that wants to try their hand. The government streamlines the process so that “if you come and expect that you’re going to open your own company in a few weeks,” it’ll happen. Though there may be a more established support system in the West, the clear government support for individual development in South Asia is one of the strongest factors causing many to return.

Though the South Asian region continues its development as a result of the high-skilled professionals returning home, there is still substantial work to be done to retain the talent. Government support, economic opportunity, and familial support are all strong initial pulls. However, the issue of brain-drain won’t be fully resolved until there is sustained regional development. Focusing on industry development must be a mainstay for countries in the region in order to retain their talent and continue the growth of the tech industry in South Asia. Hopefully, through a region-wide commitment to development, South Asia will fully recover from the past losses of brain drain and develop into a hub for the global technology industry.

Pratik Samir Koppikar
Photo: Flickr

Dairy Farming in KenyaDairy farming is a competitive business worldwide. Small and large scale dairy farmers alike face similar obstacles—slim margins, a fragile product and a decreasing market. Kenya produces 5 billion liters of milk every year and the dairy industry accounts for 5%-8% of the country’s total GDP. This large proportion of GDP means that innovations in dairy farming offer significant potential to improve the livelihoods of thousands. In light of this economic fact, new industry actors are emerging to transform dairy farming in Kenya.

EASYMA 6.0

Finding reliable buyers is a difficult task. In many cases, Kenyan dairy farmers are forced to sell to local traders that pay unfair prices. When the digital scale and supply chain system EASYMA 6.0 was introduced in 2014, however, conditions for dairy producers improved. In collaboration with USAID-funded programs, Kenyan tech agencies developed and deployed EASYMA 6.0 into local communities.

The process of EASYMA 6.0 starts with farmers weighing their milk at designated buyer collection centers. Producers then get an automated receipt as well as an immediate advance. This system ensures that farmers receive fair compensation for the quantity of product they supply. Ultimately, this innovation makes it easier for farmers to earn a fair living wage.

In addition to providing security in payments, EASYMA 6.0 also enhances transparency and record-keeping within the dairy industry. As a result, more than 22,000 Kenyan dairy farmers now have access to farm extension services, financial products and even livestock insurance through EASYMA 6.0.

Mazzi Milk Jug

Although a seemingly small and simple issue, spoiling milk can lead to large losses for dairy farmers in Kenya. Spoiled milk can lead to huge losses, negating much of the hard work performed by farmers. Without viable ways to fix the issue, farmers will continue to lose a valuable part of their productand, thus, their incomesevery year.

In developing countries, safely delivering milk and dairy products is the hardest challenge farmers face. Small-scale farmers produce 80% of the milk in Kenya. Due to small-scale farmers’ insufficient access to quality storage and refrigeration, a significant amount of milk is spoiled during delivery. This struggle prompted the development of Mazzi, a durable and inexpensive jug that prevents spills and slows curdling.

Traditional jugs, or jerry cans, leave dairy products vulnerable to contaminants that cause spoilage. Additionally, traditional jugs are also fragile and very hard to clean. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation worked with Global Good and Heifer International to find one key solution to this issue: Mazzi.

Mazzi is a 10-liter reusable plastic container that prevents spills, limits contamination and is easy to clean. Mazzi has a wide mouth that allows farmers to use two hands during the milking process, ultimately increasing productivity. The invention also has a detachable black funnel that enables farmers to determine whether cows have udder infections, as well as a stackable lid that helps with transport and makes the product easy to clean.

The Mazzi jug will only cost $5, compared to competitors priced around $30. By increasing incomes through improved yields, this inexpensive innovation is transforming dairy farming in Kenya and improving the lives of farmers in the process.

MyFugo

Many farmers rely on the dairy industry to make a living, yet Kenya has not adopted technology to improve yield. MyFugo is a software application that is projected to increase milk production in Kenya by helping farmers monitor their cows in real-time. Allan Tollo, the app’s founder, explains that “the app helps the farmer monitor his cows throughout the day enabling them to tell what time their cow will be on heat for it to be served at the right time.”

The MyFugo technology operates by using a Smart Cow Collar. Farmers place the device on their cows and receive notifications on their smart devices of the exact time their cow is in heat. Farmers can increase milk production by reducing the calving period by more than six months. This innovation eliminates prevents farmers from missing cow fertility dates, decreases calving intervals and lowers feeding and treatment costs.

The app is free to use, but the collar costs $150. Although expensive upfront, animals will produce more calves in their lifetime leading to higher milk production, increased revenues and greater economic stability for dairy farmers in the long-term.

MyFugo has registered 8,000 farmers already and is constantly working to grow its user base. The app can track animals at any location, as well as identify their risk of disease. Farmers also gain easier access to veterinary doctors and loans. With many small farms traditionally lacking access to veterinary care and financial loans, this innovation offers the potential to transform dairy farming in Kenya.

Broad Impact

Many farmers are reluctant to embrace new technologies that challenge traditional farming techniques. However, these innovations are steadily transforming dairy farming in Kenya and creating unparalleled opportunities for farmers to earn a successful living. With new technology and easy access to records, dairy farming in Kenya is traveling a new road toward lasting progress. The successful integration of technology in Kenya’s dairy farming industry demonstrates the potential of future innovation in the agricultural industry at large.

Sienna Bahr
Photo: Flickr