Why are people still dying of preventable diseases? #OYW2018 Health Plenary Session Round Up

The World Health Organisation said this year that global vaccination coverage has stalled at 86%. They estimate 1.5 million deaths a year could be prevented if vaccination levels improve. Yet there are increasing challenges against the safety of vaccines; in France alone, over 40% of the population do not consider them safe. Globally, over a million people still die from HIV related causes each year. The lives of three million children under five are lost annually due to undernutrition. According to research in the UK, around 40% of cancer cases could be prevented by lifestyle changes. If everyone routinely washed their hands, the spread of disease and infection could be prevented which would save close to a million lives a year. Nearly 90% of One Young World Ambassadors believe that education and awareness is the key to preventing disease and ill health. To date, health projects led by One Young World Ambassadors have impacted on 1,342,595 individuals who have been given access to medical care and healthier lifestyles through technology-driven initiatives. Whether due to a lack of education or scarce access to services, why are people still dying of preventable diseases?


Keynote speaker: Laurent Faracci, Executive Vice President, Category Development Health at RB

The keynote speaker for the panel, Laurent Faracci, discussed sexual rights. When we talk about sexual rights and sexual health, there is actually a lot to celebrate in 2018, he said. A true revolution for good has happened in front of our eyes. Diversity is being celebrated, discrimination is being dropped. However, the battle for sexual rights is not over. Pornography accounts for about a third of the traffic on the Internet and porn encourages a very unhealthy, performance representation, of sex. In LA, STD's have increased by 300% in just one year. In the last four years on a global basis, STD's have increased by 7% across the global. That is 1 million cases every day!

“At RB we feel like we need to promote sexual health and sexual rights. That's our mission, not because it is the right thing to do, but because we care”, a mission he wanted the delegates to share.

Quinn Underwood, Canada. Introduced by Woody Milintachinda

Quinn is a serial entrepreneur who is using AI-powered diagnostics to detect diabetes. He is the co-founder of three tech companies and one non-profit organisation.

Quinn spoke of his work with his Bangladeshi partners to provide effective primary healthcare. To date they have served more than 80,000 patients and will launch 1800 primary health care centres across India.

But, he highlighted, 85% of what determines our health is not biological, it’s social - influences like poverty and unemployment. So his organisation ADVIN not only wants to provide primary care to millions it wants to reimagine what existing healthcare systems should look like, from the ground up.

“[Currently] we are providing band-aid solutions to systemic problems”.

Felipe Acosta, Colombia. Introduced by Laurent Faracci

Working at the intersection of technology and healthcare, Felipe co-founded Dondoctor, a health start-up that digitises access to healthcare across Latin America.

Filipe believes it is time for technology to disrupt the way people access and interact with healthcare. He told of 7 hour waits just to get an appointment and 6 months to see a specialist. So it is unsurprising that patients give up and go untreated.

Dondoctor is part of a revolution on disease prevention and game changing ways to access healthcare. Booking online reduces the friction of a system where people are required to wake up at 3 am just to make an appointment. He will be reaching 1 million appointments made online in the next 12 months.

Margianta Dinata, Indonesia. Introduced by Terry Crews

Margianta began his speech talking about the impact of the tobacco industry on his grandfather, who died of a stroke, his final words were “I need cigarettes”. He talked of the horror he felt when he realised that the industry was responsible for taking people’s lives.

“Once I realised that the tobacco industry was responsible for taking people's lives, I decided to take action”, he said.

His program aims to engage young people and educate on the dangers of tobacco. As a force, they expose the tobacco industry’s manipulative tactics. His youth network observes tobacco prices and tobacco acts. Margianta explained that the fight is not over; “We will continue to fight for the wellbeing of the young”

Dr. Olivier Noel, Haiti. Introduced by Thuli Madonsela

The founder of DNAsimple, which rewards patients for taking part in scientific studies and provides a much-needed service for labs, making studies more representative. Olivier won investment on the ABC television show Shark Tank.

Olivier told the audience how drastically genetic studies exclude non-white patients. In fact less than 5% of all clinical trials, and less than 2% of oncology clinical trials in the US have included non-white people. But studies have shown people respond differently to the same treatment depending on their genetics.

DNAsimple helps facilitate research that may have not happened otherwise, connecting researchers with more diverse patients.

Olivier had a clear message: “I would urge all the scientists in the room, to think about how you can amplify the effects of your research by starting a business”.

Fatoumatta Kassama, The Gambia. Introduced by Angela Darlington

Initiated Eye Care For All to provide free home-based and community eye care services for the less privileged such as orphans, refugees, people living with disabilities, the elderly and prisoners.

As a registered nurse Fatoumatta talked of the realities she sees during her work in The Gambia; often she lacks basic equipment, even light. She sees the way patients struggle, explaining that the life expectancy for a blind person is ⅓ less than a person with full sight.

She began putting $10 of her salary (10%) aside each month to purchase eye drops for the people I would treat.

“If I can impact the lives of so many people just by starting with $10, just imagine how many people we can impact by working together” she mused.

“Because of Eye Care for All, I still have hope. When I restore sight, I give people an opportunity” she concluded.

James Muhunyu, Kenya. Introduced by Carole Stone

Co-founder of Usalama, which aims to revolutionise healthcare in Africa and has developed a “panic button” mobile application to alert emergency services to people in distress.

It was his personal experience that brought James to start his revolution. “I remember waking up to excruciating pain on a school night. The culprit was a ruptured appendix. In Kenya, accessing ambulances is not easy. I was forced to endure pain for more than 12 hours before an ambulance arrived”.

“Looking back, I am lucky that the only reminder I have of my ordeal is a 4 inch scar. It symbolises healing”.

James’ mobile platform links emergency medical situations to emergency services at the tap of a button. He told of the successes they have achieved; they have cut down the response time from 2 hours to 14 minutes. They have reached 9,300 users from over 15 countries!

“My goal is that no one loses a loved one because they could not access an ambulance”.