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Entrepreneurship Protects Human Health
According to a 2022 George Washington University School of Business article, an entrepreneurial mindset capable of applying analytical tools is key to innovations in health care and primarily those relevant to technology. The emergence of COVID-19 is one among many instances that highlights the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation in relieving the world from soaring economic costs, especially since the pandemic cost the U.S. economy more than $202 billion alone. Here are some examples of organizations that show how entrepreneurship protects human health.

EarthEnable

Around 75% of Rwanda’s population is unable to access clean floors, which facilitates the prevalence of parasites and bacteria among the general population, and subsequently, undermines public health. In Rwanda, diarrhea claims the lives of 1.8 million people each year as a direct symptom of dirty floors, especially as many households do not assume the financial capability to renovate their floors.

To strengthen Rwanda’s health care system, EarthEnable, a for-profit hybrid organization in Rwanda has adopted earthen floors as an affordable and sustainable solution to dirty floors. Earthen floors consist of domestically sourced natural materials containing water, clay, sand and laterite, collectively forming a durable surface. While some people enjoy free access to the latter, others must pay $63 for the average household of 25 square meters. Payments occur over three installments to tailor for different financial circumstances.

In the first quarter of 2022, EarthEnable installed kempt floors totaling 376,080.85 square meters, demonstrating its impact across approximately more than 14,987 households and paralleling benefits to 62,944 individuals. While the organization currently operates in 20 different Rwandan districts, plans for further expansions are due to take place in 2022-2023. Such entrepreneurship protects human health and allows Rwanda’s population to lead a prosperous life.

Innovations in Health Care

Inclined to support health-related innovations, Innovations in Healthcare devoted its operations to finding solutions to current healthcare challenges since its inception in 2011. Assistance from the World Economic Forum, Duke Medicine and Mckinsey & Company, facilitated research and development before the nonprofit’s launch.

The organization’s 100+ global network of innovator organizations work to supplement access to inexpensive and high-quality health care. Entrepreneurs with competitive innovations undergo selection to join the innovators’ network and benefit from the necessary guidelines to advance their work.

Innovations in Healthcare currently operates in more than 90 different countries, where the organization leads and supports a variety of programs. Accelerating Saving Lives at Birth is one such program, which focuses on empowering maternal and newborn health on the global level. With funding from USAID among five others, the program facilitated more than 50 innovations, seeking to accelerate the sustainability and effectiveness of saving lives as part of its birth portfolio.

The Making More Health Venture4Change is another program that seeks to bridge the gap between rural and urban areas by providing affordable hygiene solutions. By offering entrepreneurial training and utilizing students’ knowledge to develop the latter solutions, the program can implement eminent impact. This is especially important since more than 50% of the global population lack access to safe sanitation according to a UNICEF report.

Moving Mountains Kenya

Health care in Kenya suffers from an array of challenges, including inclined maternal and child deaths, and rampant levels of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis cases. A by-product of such health issues is increased social and economic burdens, evident in the fact that 83% of Kenyans lack the financial strength to meet health care costs, pushing an additional 1.5 million people into poverty per year.

Stimulated by the belief in improved health care for achieving equality, Moving Mountains works to lead and support programs and projects devoted to enhancing Kenya’s health care, in line with what the community and government deem suitable. The nonprofit has been operating in Kenya for 20+ years and its impact has extended across several communities, which their medical camps can demonstrate.

The organization’s medical camps aid the communities of either the highly populated and underprivileged Nyanza Province in western Kenya or rural communities near and within Embu town. In the camps, medical students and professionals work alongside Kenyan and public health staff to provide free-of-charge medical checkups, diagnoses, treatments and referrals to domestic hospitals for Kenyans. Each camp seeks to attain significant and tangible developmental impact, relying on process analysis to verify its influence.

Looking Ahead

Entrepreneurship protects human health through its ability to develop new ideas and solutions that cater to many health care challenges. Entrepreneurship is a significant component of the work of several nonprofits and for-profit organizations such as EarthEnable, Innovations in Healthcare and Moving Mountains.

̶  Noor Al-Zubi
Photo: Flickr

Flaxseed Oil
Around 689 million people, or 9.2% of the global population, currently live in poverty with less than $1.90 a day. In 2017, Global Citizen reported that “at least half of the world’s population did not have access to essential health care.” Global connections between health care and poverty are distinctly universal, even in the United States. A study by the Institute for Research on Poverty further indicates that practically 70% of the U.S.’s uninsured experience poverty or are on the brink of poverty. Consequently, poverty and low-income status have links to a variety of negative health consequences due to poor sanitation, such as shorter life expectancy. One way to improve sanitation in areas with high poverty is to use flaxseed oil.

Poverty and Sanitation

Research shows that 673 million people continue to defecate in public, such as in city gutters, behind bushes or in open bodies of water; the impacts of poor sanitation are severely detrimental. Poor sanitation exacerbates stunting and contributes to the spread of diseases like cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio. This issue is causing diseases such as intestinal worms, schistosomiasis and trachoma. Predictions have determined that poor sanitation causes 432,000 diarrheal deaths per year. Factoring in deaths from all of these diseases, countless people die every year in connection to poor sanitation.

A National Center for Biotechnology Information study found that there is a relationship between sanitation and types of floors. High levels of bacteria such as E. coli are more common in houses with dirt floors in comparison to houses with concrete floors. Proper floors and resources are a solution to this issue; however, concrete is expensive which means it’s hard for the poor to access it. This is where flaxseed oil comes in.

Flaxseed-Supported Floors

After Gayatri Datar traveled to Rwanda with her classmates from Stanford University, she wanted to address the prevalence of dirt floors as around 75% of the population had dirt floors, making people susceptible to certain illnesses. Datar partnered with Zuzow, one of her former classmates, and together they created “a flaxseed oil that, when poured over an earthen floor, dries to form a plastic-like, waterproof and sustainable resin that glues the surface together. The flaxseed is currently imported from India, but EarthEnable [Datar’s organization] is planning to harvest it in Kenya to keep the entire project more local.”

This flaxseed oil is a cheap and effective alternative to concrete floors. The flaxseed oil sealant costs between $2 and $5 per square meter, or around $50 per house, and residents pay it in either one sum or in six monthly installments. The cost is less than the $162 cost of the concrete floors used in Piso Firme, one of the first floor-replacement operations in Mexico.

Connecting Solutions

TECHO – a nonprofit organization – has been doing something very similar. It has “built one-room houses with hard floors, insulated pinewood walls and tin roofs for almost 130,000 families in Latin America since 1997.” All of this together has resulted in a “big drop in childhood incidence of diarrhea in these homes, down 27% or double the improvement Gertler measured for Mexican children whose dirt floors were replaced with concrete.”

Though simple, identifying contributing factors to poverty and poor health can be a meaningful step to increase the quality of life for millions. While EarthEnable and TECHO continue their work, they quite literally work to establish a stronger foundation for those experiencing certain forms of poverty.

– Noya Stessel
Photo: Flickr