Global Observatory for eHealth series – Volume 3
mHealth: New horizons for health through mobile technologies
Only five years ago who would have imagined that today a woman in sub-Saharan Africa could use a mobile phone to access health information essential to bringing her pregnancy safely to term? Mobile phones are now the most widely used communication technology in the world. They continue to spread at an exponential rate – particularly in developing countries. This expansion provides unprecedented opportunities to apply mobile technology for health. How are mobile devices being used for health around the world? What diverse scenarios can mHealth be applied in and how effective are these approaches? What are the most important obstacles that countries face in implementing mHealth solutions? This publication includes a series of detailed case studies highlighting best practices in mHealth in different settings. The publication will be of particular interest to policymakers in health and information technology, as well as those in the mobile telecommunications and software development industries.
July 9th – A Talk for World Peace: Join us for the historic World Peace Event with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the U.S. Capitol (West Lawn) in Washington, DC on Saturday, July 9th at
Nonprofit Cafe Serves Up Healing for Tsunami Survivors: Miko Onodera is trying to provide a different type of recovery for her neighbors in the tsunami-battered city of Kesennuma: emotional healing.
Onodera, 41, who runs a nonprofit focused on helping the disabled, is now the maître d of a newly opened café, which she is hoping can in small ways help survivors get over the psychic scars left by the March 11 disaster.
She sees that as the next phase in getting her hometown back to normal.
Onodera said she has so far seen three phases of recovery in the nearly three months since the tsunami generated by a massive 9.0 earthquake offshore roared into Kesennuma and other coastal communities in northeast Japan. First was the immediate need for food and shelter, then the survivors needed clothing, then the focus turned to replacing home supplies such as electrical appliances and cooking tools as the survivors moved into temporary public housing.
How to Grow Your Own Clothes
My project sprang from an idea in my book“Fashioning The Future: Tomorrow’s Wardrobe.”
I was questioning what science could “fashion” for us in the future.
As a fashion designer, I’ve always tended to think of making clothing from conventional materials. But then I met a biologist, and now I think of a completely different recipe — green tea, sugar, a few microbes and a little time.
I’m essentially using a kombucha recipe, which is a symbiotic mix of bacteria, yeasts and other microorganisms, which spin cellulose in a fermentation process. Over time, these tiny threads form in the liquid into layers and produce a mat on the surface.
We start by brewing the tea. I brew up to about 30 liters of tea at a time, and then while it’s still hot, add a couple of kilos of sugar. We stir this in until it’s completely dissolved and then pour it into a growth bath. We need to check that the temperature has cooled to below 30 degrees Celsius. And then we’re ready to add the living organism, and along with that, some acetic acid.
We need to maintain an optimum temperature for the growth. I use a heat mat to sit the bath on and a thermostat to regulate it.
After about three days, the bubbles will appear on the surface of the liquid — the fermentation is in full swing. And the bacteria are feeding on the sugar nutrients in the liquid.
So they’re spinning these tiny nanofibers of pure cellulose. And they’re sticking together, forming layers and giving us a sheet on the surface. After about two to three weeks, we’re looking at something which is about an inch in thickness. This is a static culture. You don’t have to do anything to it; you just literally watch it grow. It doesn’t need light.
And when it’s ready to harvest, you take it out of the bath and you wash it in cold, soapy water. At this point, it’s really heavy. It’s over 90 percent water, so we need to let that evaporate. So I spread it out onto a wooden sheet.
As it’s drying, it’s compressing, so what you’re left with, depending on the recipe, is something that’s either like a really lightweight, transparent paper, or something which is much more like a flexible vegetable leather. And then you can either cut that out and sew it conventionally, or you can use the wet material to form it around a three-dimensional shape. And as it evaporates, it will knit itself together, forming seams.
I started to grow microbial cellulose to explore an ecofriendly textile for clothing and accessories but, very quickly, I realized this method had potential for all sorts of other biodegradable consumer products.
How to grow a building from seed
When Thomas Heatherwick competed to design the UK pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo, he was sure about one thing: His team wasn’t going to showcase “the same cheesy adverts for Britain and promote some silly stereotypes of Britain as fog and rain and Sherlock Holmes and Harry Potter and Beefeaters and phone boxes.”
Designing what to build instead presented some challenges. “An expo is a kind of bonkers event,” the London-based architect said in an interview following his talk at the TED2011 conference in March in Long Beach, California. There were more than 240 pavilions competing for the attention of the millions of visitors to the expo last year.
“It’s the equivalent of going to all the main museums in New York, L.A., London and every shop in Oxford Street in London. You’d be absolutely frazzled by the time that you might get anywhere near the UK pavilion. So we were very struck that in that context, one of the most important things a pavilion could be would be quite calm and experiential, simple and in some way be a kind of break from what other pavilions might be like.”
Taking a cue from the Expo’s theme of “Better City, Better Life,” Heatherwick decided to focus on how British cities, particularly London, had integrated nature into urban life. At Kew Gardens, London had “the world’s first major botanical institution. … And London for its size is one of the greenest cities in the world,” he said.
The result was the “Seed Cathedral,” a strikingly different pavilion that commanded attention from visitors with its 66,000 optical tubes, each embedded with a different seed from the Kew Royal Botanical Gardens’ Millennium Seed Bank, which is seeking to collect and preserve seeds from a quarter of the world’s plant species by 2020.
By Heatherwick’s account, the project required a different approach from designing a national pavilion. “Normally one person designs a fancy box and someone else scratches their head and says ‘Oh my God, what are we going to put inside it?’ We really wanted the main architecture that you experience to grow out of the content, but how do you grow a building out of seeds?”
Stuart woman says Facebook saved her life
These days, it seems like people are spending more time checking their Facebookthan they are checking email. The instant interaction you get from the social networking site is one of the main reasons why it’s so popular. And if you ask one Stuart woman, that real-time communication is also a lifesaver.
Cindy Lincoln has been at Heartland Health Care Center in Palm Beach Gardens for over a week recovering from an injury she suffered while doing laundry. It happened on Memorial Day. Lincoln’s husband was out of town and she had the house to herself.
“I worked all day, went to bed, woke up at midnight and decided to fold some clothes,” Lincoln said. As she sat in an office chair folding towels, she dropped one on the floor. When she bent down to pick it up, the chair rolled out from underneath her, causing her to fall. “When it slammed up against the wall. I heard a crunch. I knew I was in big trouble,” Lincoln said. The crunch she heard was her femur bone, breaking.
All alone and in excruciating pain, she knew she needed help. Her first thought: call 911 — except, she couldn’t get to the phone. “To go up to the kitchen to the telephone, I would have had to go up a couple of steps and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do that,” Lincoln said.
Lincoln was in a predicament, a painful one. But she knew that she had to do something to try to find help. Her other option: the laptop sitting on top of the desk just a few feet away. Except getting to the computer would be no easy feat. But it was her only hope. So she began to crawl.
“All the time dragging this leg and it was the most painful thing I’ve ever been through,” Lincoln said. The pain was so bad, at one point, Lincoln thought she would pass out. But she had to keep on crawling. It was the middle of the night and Lincoln knew no one would be looking for her. It was hot in the laundry room and because she suffers from respiratory problems, it was difficult for Cindy to breathe. She really wasn’t sure if she would make it.
Eventually, she did.
To reach the keys to the laptop she had to hoist herself up and into another chair. Cindy was afraid that it would run out of power if she pulled it down to her. Once she was in reach of the computer, she faced another challenge. Because she didn’t have her glasses on, Lincoln couldn’t see the screen. “I just sat there crying,” Lincoln said.
Thinking about what to do next, she remembered Facebook. She had signed up for the site two months ago. Lincoln figured she would at least be able to see the profile pictures. That’s when Lincoln happened to click on a Facebook group that only her family members were in. So she typed a comment. “I wrote ‘call 911, I need help,’ ” Lincoln said. That was at 10:00 a.m., nearly 10 hours after she fell.
Cindy’s kids, who are all adults now, carry their smartphones every where they go. Lincoln hoped one of them would see that they had a new Facebook notification. It didn’t take long before one of them did. Minutes after Cindy’s cry for help comment went out on Facebook, she received a reply. “ON MY WAY”, her daughter-in-law wrote.
It wasn’t long after that, that emergency officials arrived and took her to the hospital. For Cindy and her family, it’s the road to recovery. She says if it hadn’t been for Facebook, she’s not sure she would have survived.
A Generation Without Fear
The Meningitis Vaccine projectis a fantastic success story. Prior to December 2010, the approach to protecting people from meningococcal epidemic meningitis in Africa was inadequate and reactive. This preventable disease was needlessly killing lives. A vaccine is now available for 50 cents per dose.
I was in Africa when the largest meningitis epidemic on record hit in 1996 causing over 250,000 cases and 25,000 deaths. The epidemic caused social and economic activities to grind to a halt.
The health officials at that time were overwhelmed. They contacted the World Health Organization (WHO) to request a new approach for dealing with this problem. The WHO brought together an international coalition including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, PATH, and other stakeholders and they arrived at one recommendation—a new vaccine model needed to be produced that would prevent epidemic meningitis from occurring again. That led to the formation of the Meningitis Vaccine project—a partnership between WHO and PATH with funding from The Gates Foundation.
After ten years of research and development a vaccine was licensed in June 2010 and has been introduced in three countries in Sub-Saharan Africa: Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
Within two weeks of introduction, over 10 million people were vaccinated in Burkina Faso, 4 million in Mali and 3 million in Niger. To date nearly 20 million people have received the new vaccine and only 8 cases, who were unvaccinated persons, have been reported in these 3 countries.