Melinda Gates has a really interesting post on the Gates Foundation blog about lessons that can be learned from the The Coca-Cola Company and how applying their strategy to global health programming can help to make it more efficient and impactful.
The three main points of my TEDxChange talk were that Coke constantly uses real-time data to maximize its operations; it leverages the talent of local entrepreneurs; and it markets its product effectively.
In a project with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and an organization called Carolina for Kibera, the Tabitha Clinic is working closely with the population in one neighborhood in Kibera. Health workers go house to house, collecting data from every resident every two weeks. The data is fired back to a central system via palm held devices.
When the staff saw a spike in the number of cases of diarrhea last year, they got worried about the possibility of a cholera outbreak. But as soon as the lab confirmed a cholera case, they visited the home of the infected individual, treated the members of the household, and conducted counseling sessions in the surrounding area. In the end, there were only four cases of cholera in the neighborhood.
It’s impossible to say how many people would have gotten cholera without that immediate intervention, but other slum areas have had cholera outbreaks of 1,000 cases, so it’s logical to assume that the use of real-time data saved lives and prevented a significant amount of misery.
Seeing Coke and the Tabitha Clinic side-by-side reinforced what I was thinking when I gave that talk six months ago: There are lessons to be learned from every sector, and we need to be willing to look far and wide for solutions to the challenges we face in health and development.
The whole post is really worth reading. See the full post and a video of the TEDxChange talk that Melinda Gates gave here.