Global health is individual health, and countless scientists, public health researchers, doctors, nurses, and volunteers can attest to the urgency of strengthening the “weak links” in our global health policies and practices. In its effort to give a platform to “ideas worth spreading,” TED (an acronym for Technology, Entertainment and Design) seeks out speakers who can share their research and experience in improving daily health practices, medicine delivery, research tactics, and interpersonal interactions. If you’re a TED junkie interested in learning more about the state of global health and changes coming over the horizon, here’s three to get you started.
The vast majority of genetic research done uses samples only from those with European backgrounds — 96% of it, to be exact. While the variation across all 46 chromosomes may be little, it’s what makes every single person on our planet different, from their appearance to the diseases to which they’re predisposed. Modern advances in pharmacogenomics, or the study of the way drugs and medications interact with a person based on their DNA, could prove invaluable, as long as the data we have on DNA is representative of the world population, not just those of European descent.
For decades and decades, economists and humanitarians alike have been debating the best way to collect and disperse of charity money, donated goods, and volunteered services to those in need. Some have criticized the concept of charity altogether, whiles others champion boundless giving. Regardless, it’s been difficult for either camp to back its beliefs up with hard data — until now. Big open data has offered us glimpses into the very real behaviors of billions of people at a time, and it’s giving us new ways to analyze the way we approach international aid.
For many living in developing nations, dangerous, sparsely populated, or uncharted terrain impedes access to vital tools and medications. Between the cost of transportation and the relatively small number of people the items would benefit, philanthropies would rather invest their money elsewhere. However, with improved machinery at reduced prices, entrepreneurs are harnessing drone technology originally designed for the likes of Amazon or fast food delivery for the safe and inexpensive delivery of live-saving medications to places it’s hard for non-natives to access.