A focus on diseases and cures can mask a systemic, underlying issue: lack of access to quality healthcare.
Inadequate access results in millions of preventable deaths every year. Developing countries are served by one-tenth as many doctors and nurses per capita as high-income areas. To solve this problem, innovations must be supported that enable access to and ensure use of reliable, affordable, and appropriate healthcare that leads to improved health outcomes in disadvantaged populations.
Roughly half of the world’s population lives in rural areas, but less than 40 percent of nurses and less than 25 percent of physicians work there or service those areas. Increasing access to medical care for the poor, the marginalized, the vulnerable, and the remote requires innovative approaches for increasing physical proximity to the communities who suffer most from these disparities.
- Skoll Awardees: Afghan Institute of Learning, Arzu, Basic Needs, Gawad Kalinga, Girls not Brides, Health Leads, mothers2mothers, Partners in Health, Population and Development Association, Riders for Health, Saude Crianca, VillageReach, VisionSpring, World Health Partners
- Innovation Investments: Elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission, Global Green and Healthy Hospital pilot, Riders-Gambia PRI, Vision services in Bangladesh
In the quest to deliver basic quality healthcare to the world’s eight billion people, the social and economic conditions that often result in and exacerbate disease must be addressed. Embracing a holistic understanding of well-being that reaches beyond a narrow model to address root causes is a necessary first step. An integrated healthcare approach that tackles conditions including poverty, lack of nutrition, water and sanitation, housing, and education, is a key strategy for ensuring that those who need it the most receive basic quality healthcare.
- Skoll Awardees: Basic Needs, Health Care Without Harm, Health Leads, mothers2mothers, Partners in Health, Saude Crianca
New drugs, diagnostic models, medical devices, and other technologies offer the hope of better treatment and care. Despite progress, the poor are rarely able to afford health products that can dramatically improve their lives. The high cost of transportation, frequent product stock outs, inadequate quality control, and inefficient distribution systems further exacerbate slim margins and low availability.
- Skoll Awardees: APOPO, Medic Mobile, One World Health, VisionSpring, World Health Partners
- Innovation Investments: Vision services in Bangladesh
Globally, 1.1 billion people do not have access to clean water supply sources. Those most affected are populations in poor countries, living in extreme conditions of poverty in both urban slums and rural areas. Clean water supply and sanitation are inextricably linked with health and productivity. Every 20 seconds a child dies from a water-related disease. Globally, it is the second leading cause of death among children under five. Without access to clean water supplies, it is that much more difficult to even begin to address poverty, famine, and health issues.
- Skoll Awardees: Gram Vikas, Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor, Water for People, Water.org
The need for better sanitation in the developing world is clear. Forty percent of the world’s population—2.5 billion people—practice open defecation or lack adequate sanitation facilities. The consequences are often devastating to human health as well as to the environment. Even in urban areas, where household and communal toilets are more prevalent, 2.1 billion people use toilets connected to septic tanks that are not safely emptied or use other systems that discharge raw sewage into open drains or surface waters.
- Skoll Awardees: Ciudad Saludable, Gram Vikas, Shack/Slum Dwellers International, Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor, Water for People, Water.org