Disasters, whether natural or man-made, destroy and disable healthcare systems just when they’re needed most. But disaster can also create an opportunity to make healthcare better, even in the world’s most troubled places.
I pay through the nose for health insurance for my family, and I’m not happy about it. As a U.S. citizen, I don’t have the luxury of government-backed healthcare. Since I’m technically self-employed, I have to pay the full premium myself. Want some figures? It costs me $830 a month for a family of four, with a high deductible. Besides being expensive, it takes a huge effort to deal with insurance issues, and I find that my provider is expert at finding reasons not to reimburse me for medical expenses. This is chewing a gaping hole in my budget. The only way I’ll ever get value for my money is if I’m hit by a bus.
I could tell something wasn’t quite right with the electrician. He was standing stiffly, poking at the wires in the circuit breaker panel, his face pale, his breathing labored. My wife offered him a cup of tea and asked if he was OK.
“I’m fine,” he said. “I just had a little surgery yesterday.” He kept working until he fixed the wiring; only then did he accept the tea. Then he told us his story.
A recent article by Timothy Ogden (Computer Error?) provides a pretty clear answer: forget the glitzy computers, and put your scarce resources into the provision of deworming pills. The One Laptop per Child (OLPC) program provides computers at around $200 a pop, while deworming pills cost between 50 cents and 4 dollars per student per year. All the control trials of computers in classrooms have given—at best—ambiguous results.
Call them taxpayers, citizens, or just simply the public—they are the reason why public private partnerships (PPPs) are created. They are the users and the ultimate financiers, whether by paying taxes or tolls, and they want to have a bigger role in decisions about what infrastructure shall be built and how. It’s no surprise that public opinion is the ultimate judge of the success of PPP projects.
Any social media evangelist surely knows the objection all too well: you try to make the case for Web 2.0 and the power of conversations that it enables when someone inevitably comes up with "conversations are all very well, but what about real work? And real impacts?"
Great advances in mobile telephony and internet access seem to promise a revolution in development. But Chris Kreutz on the crisscrossed blog reminds us just how big the constraints are. Among other things, Chris reports on a presentation at the Web4dev conference, and even in South Africa the obstacles are large:
Some of the recent discussions around microfinance have been contentious, so I'll tread carefully here.
Recently I saw this paper by Leora Klapper, Anat Lewin, and Juan Manuel Quesada Delgado. The authors find that there are important benefits to making business registration simpler. They say:
I recently blogged about a website that allows people to bet with themselves on whether they will achieve certain weight loss goals. The smart minds behind the website, Dean Karlan and Jonathan Zinman, have provided an answer to the question I posed at the end of that post - are there any better uses to which we could put these kinds of commitment devices?