How an App You Probably Use is Changing Global Health and Well-being Today

As a Public Health major, I focus a lot of Sustainable Development Goal 3, Health and Well-being. So, I was thrilled to see the line-up of speakers at this year’s Social Good Summit that were going to have health centered conversations. I was particularly looking forward to Nanette Cocero, the Regional President for emerging markets at Pfizer Inc. Emerging markets in global health is comprised of communities within developing countries who lack basic needs for quality health care.

To give perspective, Nanette began her talk discussing numbers. 5.5 billion people live in emerging markets. That is 70% of the global population. Can you imagine? 70% of the global population live in a market that lacks quality access to healthcare. So how is an app that you probably have downloaded on your phone today changing the lives for people in emerging markets through innovation?

1. FaceTime

Personally, I use FaceTime weekly since I have family and friends spread out in the world. However, I never thought of FaceTime as more than a way to call my best friend to ask for her opinion on an outfit. That is changing. It is called “tele-medicine” and it is improving the lives of patients who live in places with no specialists and limited access to doctors. How does it work? A patient is seen by a general practitioner, who then in turn contacts a specialist via apps similar to FaceTime, and is then given a diagnosis and treatment plan by the specialist, all within a matter of hours.

2. Apple/Google Pay

How nice is it to be able to whip out your phone, wave it over the card reader, and receive your iced latte in under 2 minutes? Alipay, started in China, is a mobile payment company similar to Apple Pay or PayPal but can also be used to track and pay for health care costs, from prescriptions to health insurance, all in one place. And what’s even cooler? Instead of racking up points on purchases to get a discount on your next purchase, Alipay has established a point system that allows users to collect points to get free health insurance coverage on several illnesses. Score!

3. Health/Fitness Trackers

Did you know that 90% of Kenyan’s own a smartphone? With this, global health workers can help a country within an emerging market change outcomes for their patients through their cell phone. Doctors have created several different applications to measure diabetic patients, along with others, activity levels and sleeping patterns to help create a more accurate diagnosis and treatment plan!

So next time you use an app on your smart phone, think of ways the idea behind the app can change the lives of someone in need. You never know, your idea could be the next breakthrough for those needed health care in emerging markets!

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