The Institute for Technology & Global Health hosts Inaugural Event

The inaugural Change.Enabled conference, hosted by the Institute for Technology & Global Health at PathCheck Foundation, took place last Friday, June 24th in New York City. The theme for this year's event was “Global Health and the Innovation Assembly,” which focused on the health crises we currently face and how technology and innovation can be leveraged to ameliorate them.

P2_0977Leading experts across the different disciplines in public and global health shed light on the challenges they face and the work being done in response. Syra Madad, a Senior Director of New York Health + Hospitals and Jayne Morgan, Executive Director of the COVID Task Force at Piedmont Healthcare Corp, expounded on the critical issues they faced as they worked to maintain control on the spread of COVID-19 in their respective parts of the country. They highlighted the role of government and policies and the urgent need for scientists and qualified health practitioners to be given authority, to implement procedures that are supported by Science. News of Roe v. Wade being overturned by SCOTUS broke during that first panel and both panelists highlighted the urgency in protecting and ensuring access to healthcare for women. 

“Technology doesn’t always mean innovation and innovation doesn’t always mean technology” - Chris Dickey

Tobias Silberzahn, a Partner at McKinsey who also heads the Global Health Tech Network presented on the global trends in digital health and the new offerings by private sector firms. Manny Lamarre of the U.S. Department of Labor and Carlotta Arthur from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine spoke of the importance of health equity and the possible solutions to creating a more equitable health system. Uyen Huynh, Chief of Innovation and Learning at UNICEF, and Chris Dickey, Director of the Global Public Health program at NYU engaged in deep discussions on the role of advanced public health training to ensure those who aspire to careers in the field, are equipped to innovate in a rapidly changing landscape, that is driven by advanced technologies. They also discussed at length, exploring new methods of evaluating the effectiveness of novel technologies. Importantly, the pair highlighted that innovative solutions in health do not necessarily mean that technology must be used. In fact, some of the most innovative solutions that have been created by people in developing countries have not included any digital components. 

Pardis Sabeti, a Computational Geneticist and Professor at Harvard University presented her work on Operation Outbreak, which she and her team at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard have developed and are implementing. The tool is part of an effort to educate students on how infectious diseases spread by simulating an outbreak, as well as how vaccines and herd immunity work. The final panel of the day focused on the future of technology, with Tanya Accone, a Senior Advisor on Innovation at UNICEF speaking on the ways in which we can think about innovation, especially in resource-constrained settings.  

P3_1142The old saying “health is wealth” has, for a very long time, not been experienced to the degree in which we have over the last two years. We experienced the toll that poor health can have not only on individual human life but also on entire populations and economies. As we live in an increasingly globalized world, more integrated health systems will need to be erected and these systems will need to employ innovative solutions capable of withstanding ever-converging crises, whose barrels we stare down. For this purpose we urgently need to assemble the innovators and drivers of change, to develop sustainable solutions as a response. 

The second iteration of Change.Enabled is scheduled for spring 2023. The new theme will be announced later this year.