Clear PATH to Changes in Global Health
PATH leads the world in global health innovation. This international nonprofit organization creates high-quality vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, devices and system and service innovations. By targeting these five platforms, PATH takes a “multidimensional approach” to initiate the greatest amount of change.

PATH stands for the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health. It was founded in 1977 as the Program for the Introduction and Adaption of Contraceptive Technology, but since 1981 it has been renamed PATH.

PATH has offices and workstations across 22 countries and has spread its good work to more than 70 countries. It partners with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, UNFPA, government ministries and other NGOs, foundations and local associations in the countries it serves.

PATH’s work in Africa began in 1978, when it developed family planning resources for mildly literate people in Asia. After that, PATH expanded the basis of its literacy program to Kenya, Botswana and Sierra Leone. Now, PATH’s work in Africa encompasses topics on AIDS, malaria, reproductive health, doctoral training in immunization and civilian education on preventative measures.

PATH focuses on women and children: feminine empowerment is also a critical area of focus. PATH’s products serve women who have no way of protecting themselves from HIV, cervical cancer and other sexually transmitted diseases. By working with local governments, PATH supports long-term efforts strengthening local health.

One way PATH educates on HIV prevention is through interactive street theater. Community productions called “magnet theaters” attract crowds in Kenya. They help nervous parents introduce and perhaps delve deeper into the topic of HIV prevention with their children.

A mother shared with PATH, “I do not know how to talk with my children about such things, so I encourage them to go to the magnet theater.” The performance’s messages tend to resonate amongst communities, creating open interest and support for leading healthier lives.

In Asia, PATH began its work manufacturing safer condoms and other contraceptives. They targeted rural communities that had not yet received that kind of care. Since then, PATH has expanded its offices to Cambodia, China, India, Myanmar and Vietnam. Across Asia, PATH facilitates discussion in tuberculosis and HIV education, influenza protection, pregnancy education and treatment and hepatitis prevention. Further, more programs focus on protecting against childhood pneumonia, diarrheal disease, diabetes, Japanese encephalitis, human papillomavirus and rotavirus, to name only a few.

Programs in Asia also pay attention to creating greater access to and availability of nutritious diets as well as the distribution of resources to girls concerning health and education.

PATH created the world’s first “woman-initiated” condom. The dual protection helps protect women from unintended pregnancies, maternal mortality and HIV infection, while also providing ease in insertion and removal, stability, comfort and a pleasant sensation.

Theatrics prove to be a great method for education throughout the world. In Nicaragua, puppet shows promote safe sex and educate on the risks of HIV and AIDS, early pregnancy and violence. This was only one part of PATH’s Entre Amigas project.

The “Between Girlfriends” project aimed to build confidence among young girls ages 10 to 14 years old. PATH designed activities likes all-girl soccer games, mother-daughter discussion groups, Nicaraguan Ministry of Health-led talks and even featured new characters in popular soap opera television shows to encourage dialogue.

One of PATH’s extraordinary products is the Ultra Rice® technology. The fortified grains are infused with essential vitamins and minerals to protect against micronutrient deficiencies.

The rice was made with taste in mind. Made with rice flour, iron, thiamin, zinc, vitamin A, folic acid and other B vitamins, Ultra Rice® increased iron levels in children ages 5 and 12 years old in India and lowered anemia levels by 80 percent in women in Mexico.

As made evident by its tech-driven products, PATH’s approach also requires entrepreneurial drive and long-term support for healthy habits.

Lin Sabones

Sources: PATH 1, Global Citizen, PATH 2, PATH 3, PATH 4, PATH 5, PATH 6
Photo: Fast Company