This past weekend I had the great pleasure and honor of attending the 2nd annual Envision Arabia Summit hosted by the Arab Development Initiative at NYU’s Kimmel Center in New York City. It was a weekend full of inspiring talks, master classes, and project presentations. The main goal for this year’s conference was to develop projects that are measurable, sustainable, and achievable in the MENA region.
Dunia Health made it’s official debut at the Envision Arabia Summit this weekend. Dunia’s main goal is to provide low-resource areas with access to technologies with mobile interfaces that reduce the amount of trivial tasks performed by a clinician in a single shift, allowing for more dedicated attention to patients and an improved quality of care delivered. In our field research this past summer, we traveled to Lesotho, Malawi, and the Gaza Strip and noticed a common theme of over-worked clinicians.
In the Gaza Strip, clinics with a 25-member staff were responsible for seeing over 800 patients a day during the 6 hours that clinics are open. In Malawi, nurses were responsible for recording the vital signs for 100 babies every hour during their shift, essentially reducing their shifts to nothing but recording vital signs. These clinicians, both nurses and physicians, have the training and skills to provide better care but were too strapped for time to do anything beyond the bare minimum.
This isn’t what the clinicians signed up for when they went to nursing school or medical school, and this is certainly not what the patients signed up for when they made the journey to seek medical attention. This is where Dunia Health got it’s beginnings. We were interested in developing technologies to allow the clinicians to actually dedicate time to doing their job without being held back by answering inquiries about vaccine availabilities or spending an entire shift recording vital signs.
The Envision Arabia Summit was the perfect place for us to launch. There has been a tremendous focus on mobile health and global health technologies in Africa and parts of South Asia like India, but the Middle East has not received equal or even comparable amounts of attention or investment. The Arab world is currently undergoing a dramatic shift in the ideology and social organization as the political revolutions are underway. This is the opportune moment for social enterprise to take an interest in implementing these technologies in the Middle East.
Many of the Arab countries are under-developed and lacking in the most basic public health and sanitation initiatives, but why isn’t the same technology reaching Africa and the Middle East? Now, more than ever, low-cost health initiatives are needed in the Middle East. Uprising after uprising means a steady increase in the number of refugees spread out across the region. Host countries can only handle so many with some countries bearing a greater burden than others. Jordan, for example, currently serves as a host for Palestinian, Iraqi, and now Syrian refugees. The local infrastructure cannot sustain the influx of refugees and global health technologies can improve the efficiency of health care provided and prevent the spread of communicable disease.
EAS 12 was the greatest gathering of individuals interested in doing exactly that, even going beyond the scope of health care. One of the projects wanted to start a program to teach basic life support and CPR to one employee in every Egyptian workplace and equip those workplaces with defibrillators. Another project wanted to create a charter school in a low-income neighborhood in Cairo. EAS 12 was an excellent platform for receiving feedback from like-minded individuals working
I left EAS 12 feeling inspired by the community of young professionals and students dedicated to development in the Middle East and around the world. I now know that there is a community of dedicated individuals interested in our products and willing to do the work to get them to market and to areas that need them the most. A small, dedicated team willing to go the distance is all that is necessary to make this a reality. I like to think the Dunia Health team fits the bill.