Global Issues

TEDWeekends talks innovation for the Global South

Posted by: Elizabeth Jacobs

Malaria kills about 2,000 people every day. The mosquito-borne disease has ravaged the equatorial areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia, where a combination of poverty and climate make a dangerous breeding ground for disease. There is currently no vaccine.

But Nathan Myhrvold has a solution. In his talk and demonstration from TED2010,  Myhrvold offers a silver bullet to prevent malaria in Africa — a mosquito laser zapper. His lab has developed a laser beam that can detect whether a mosquito might be malarial, and then zap it mid-air. This exciting innovation shows much promise in the fight to prevent malaria.

This week’s edition of TED Weekends on The Huffington Post explores the risks and rewards of innovating high-tech solutions for the Global South. In addition to an article from Myhrvold providing updates on his work, HuffPo features two other essays discussing tech innovations in the Global South. Below, some highlights from these pieces to pique your interest.

Nathan Myhrvold: Striking Down Malaria … With A Laser?

So, to the critics who say we’ll fail, I offer this: You’re absolutely right. But that’s part of being an inventor. What’s more important is that we learn, keep trying and make sure our successful inventions have a meaningful impact. At worst, we’ll get people thinking about important problems in new ways. At best, we’ll invent technology that transforms life for the people who need it most and, in the process, inspire more technology companies to work their magic for the developing world. Either way, I’d consider that a success. Read the full essay »

Larry Hollon Rev. Larry Hollon: The Astounding Impact of Innovative Technology in the Developing World

Even technology that’s far more accessible than what Myhrvold describes is changing the game in Africa — not only aiding in the fight against malaria, but opening a whole new world. Mobile technologies make it possible to have access to information that is transformative, whether it’s tracking disease outbreaks or educating children. Read the full essay »

Stuart Rennie: The Less ‘Glamorous’ Side of Invention

For decades, public health professionals have warned against ‘magic bullet’ approaches to disease control. Developing a technological innovation (be it a drug, device or a machine) is generally not enough in itself to make a significant impact on a disease on a population level. This is painfully evident in developing countries, whose citizens often do not have access to medical inventions (like antibiotics or MRIs) that were developed decades ago and currently standard of care in more affluent settings. In order to effect real change, you need more than inventors: You need implementers. Read the full essay »