Creating a better future for everyone, no matter where they live

Steve Davis speaks at the 2015 Seattle Breakfast for Global Health.

“This is an extraordinary time. We have the opportunity to be part of a global movement that is saving and improving lives, and to change the course of history.” Steve Davis, president and CEO of PATH. Photo: PATH/Christopher Nelson Photography.

Last November, on a trip to India with PATH supporters, we visited a village in Bihar. Bihar is one of India’s poorest states, with very high rates of maternal and newborn mortality and a literacy rate of just 64 percent. We traveled out to the Kurkuri village clinic, where dozens of people were waiting for immunizations. At the front of the line was a petite, white-haired woman, holding her 3-year-old granddaughter Meni.

I’ll never forget what she said.

She said she was terrified of Japanese encephalitis and wanted to protect Meni with the vaccine. It may seem simple, but by vaccinating Meni she was doing more than protecting her against Japanese encephalitis; she was advocating for her granddaughter’s future. Continue reading »

Saving lives through essential vaccines: reimagining “routine” immunization

Health worker injects vaccine into the upper arm of a young boy while another smiling boy watches.

Parents, health care workers, policymakers, benefactors—all are needed to ensure that children in countries around the globe receive routine immunizations. But do we undersell the value of this lifesaving innovation by calling it “routine”? Photo: PATH/Aaron Joel Santos.

Look up the word routine, and you’ll find the synonyms “humdrum,” “monotonous,” and “dull.” Routine immunization is anything but monotonous—it saves millions of lives, prevents disability, and is continuously monitored and re-evaluated as new information becomes available. Perhaps it’s time to rethink the way we talk about the routine immunization schedule to better reflect its importance and complexity. Immunizations are not routine, but vital, critical, necessary—they are essential. Continue reading »

SwitchPoint 2015: innovation, ingenuity, and global development

Collage of Switchpoint photos and illustrations.Last month hundreds of participants from around the world met in the artsy community of Saxapahaw, North Carolina, for the fourth annual SwitchPoint conference, produced by IntraHealth International.

Claudia Harner-Jay.

Author Claudia Harner-Jay is a senior commercialization officer at PATH. Photo: PATH.

This two-day gathering brings together great ideas, tools, and people who are making a real difference in the world in areas such as humanitarian innovation, global health, and technology.

I was honored to attend and speak about innovation curation, ingenuity, and global development, inviting the audience to ponder what innovation means in the context of global health (giving examples from PATH’s 40-year history), where innovation comes from, and how lasting global progress requires cross-sector collaboration to achieve impact at scale. With Kennedy Odede, a social entrepreneur and founder of Shining Hope for Communities (located in the slums of Nairobi), I also ran one of the 22 microlabs—small interactive workshops with 30 people—on how stakeholder considerations influence the development and advancement of innovations. Continue reading »

Managing menstruation in low-resource settings: are cups the key?

School girls gather in a group.

Managing a period is challenging in low-resource settings where girls may have a 10-hour (or more) school day. Photo: PATH/Wendy Stone.

Hope Randall, communications associate at PATH, recently interviewed Nancy Muller, senior program officer for our Devices and Tools Program, to learn more about PATH’s work in menstrual hygiene and solutions that can make an impact in low-resource settings. Following are excerpts from their interview.

How did you first become involved with the issue of menstrual hygiene?

In 2006, I was en route to Seattle from Uganda. I was traveling with our very own Sara Tifft, director of the Sayana Press Pilot Introduction and Research project at PATH, who asked me what I thought low-income girls in Africa did when they had their periods. I felt like the bottom of the plane had dropped out! I had never thought about it. I became a bit obsessed with understanding how girls and women manage their periods, especially if they live in rural areas. My first passion was medical waste management, which was great preparation for my work in menstrual hygiene management. Continue reading »

Strengthening communities: a clean water partnership makes lives better

Since 2012, PATH has been partnering with Starbucks Foundation to improve access to clean drinking water and improve sanitation and hygiene in two Tanzanian coffee-growing communities. Poverty and sickness were rampant in these communities says Anna Mbise, a PATH consultant in Tanzania, partially due to lack of access to safe water and improved sanitation.

Mtemi Miya, an agronomist with Starbucks agrees, noting that it was important to help the farming communities produce quality coffee through sustainable practices, “but to also lead a better life.”

Both Anna and Mtemi are part of an innovative program that uses a participatory approach to bring health within reach to everyone on a community level. Continue reading »

Thinking big for babies and mothers with PATH’s Cyril Engmann

A woman carries a sleeping baby in a backpack.

“As a frontline health worker, I don’t take care of a critically ill baby and not talk with his/her mother and father about contraception, nutrition, diarrhea, vaccinations, early childhood development. It’s a very comprehensive package.” —Dr. Cyril Engmann. Photo: PATH/Evelyn Hockstein.

Dr. Cyril Engmann, world-renowned expert in newborn health, is PATH’s director of Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health and Nutrition (MNCHN). Deborah Kidd, senior communications officer for the Vaccine Development Program at PATH, shares excerpts from her interview with Cyril about his team’s work, his vision for integration, and reflections on his newest role. 

Q: Tell me why a focus on mothers is pivotal for global health and development.

A: We all appreciate the incredible role that mothers play. Without them, the data suggest mortality rates increase significantly in their children. Mothers are children’s best advocates, and being able to empower, educate, and equip mothers (and fathers) to be able to advocate confidently for their children is very powerful.

Q: How does PATH’s MNCHN Program integrate a focus on those first critical newborn weeks with further healthy development?

A: I saw this in action when I traveled to South Africa and Mozambique to visit our Windows of Opportunity project, a comprehensive focus on a child’s first 1,000 days. This is a critical time period that shapes long-term physical, cognitive, and emotional health. Continue reading »

Friday Think: where philanthropist billionaires put their money

Infant smiles up at camera from her mother's lap.

In a recent survey, health remains the top cause supported among philanthropists in the US, Europe, Middle East, and Asia. Photo: PATH/Gabe Bienczycki.

In the world of philanthropy, an increasing percentage of uber-wealthy donors—many of whom have noticed progress in the number of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals—are seeking out worthy causes that deliver global health impact. And that’s heartening news for nonprofits in health and social equity.

Journalist Matt Petronzio covers the news in a recent Mashable article. Continue reading »

Water treatment made easy: new device needs just water, salt, and electricity

Worldwide more than 700 million people lack access to good-quality sources of drinking water. This health inequity has deadly consequences: safe water is critical for preventing diarrheal disease, one of the leading killers of children in developing countries.

For people in many parts of the world, a typical day includes collecting water in containers and carrying it home for cooking, washing, and drinking. Fetching water may take over an hour, and too often the water contains pathogens that cause disease.

Woman gathers water at a lakeside, stands next to a large number of jerrycans.

More than 700 million people worldwide don’t have access to good-quality sources of drinking water. Photo: PATH/Tom Furtwangler.

Responding to this challenge, MSR (Mountain Safety Research Global Health) and PATH have spent several years developing a small, easy-to-use chlorine maker appropriate for resource-limited settings. It’s called the MSR SE200™ Community Chlorine Maker. Continue reading »

Friday Think: 10 “scrappy” award-winning inventions

Biplane parked in a field.It takes guts to champion an innovative idea or invention. Often, an idea begins as a hunch to solve a problem, a hastily drawn sketch. Then years of development may pass before a new reality is created, making life better. But to get to that point, the potential value of an innovation must be recognized and nurtured.

Each year the editors of Popular Science identify 10 outstanding inventions, all of which are designed to solve real problems. This year was no exception, and there were several that caught our attention as they relate to global health solutions. Following is an excerpt from the Popular Science feature: Continue reading »

PATH launches hometown awareness campaign to increase reach

A PATH billboard with the Seattle Space Needle in the background.

You might come across one of these PATH billboards if you’re in Seattle this summer. They’re one of the ways we’re showing how innovations create health equity around the world, from idea to impact. Photo: Tracy Romoser.

As a leader in global health innovation, PATH has a nearly 40-year track record of getting lifesaving solutions to the people who need them most. Seattle has become a hub for global health, and we’ve been at the forefront. And the recently announced Reach Campaign will carry our impact even farther.

But what does it really take to change millions of lives? This is something we get asked all the time, even in Seattle. So we’re asking our hometown and you to find out by taking a journey with us—the journey of innovation. Continue reading »