This summer, I was the Innovation Scale-Up Intern for the Center for Accelerating Innovation and Impact, a cross-cutting team at USAID in the Global Health Bureau. The Center utilizes business-minded approaches to develop, introduce, and scale health innovations. One of the major objectives of the center is to help interventions accelerate impact through market access and scaling efforts.
This summer, I led a market assessment in India and Bangladesh for a medical device called bubble CPAP (bCPAP), which is a type of CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. Over 15 million babies are born prematurely each year and one of the most common complications is Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS)1. RDS is often fatal if not treated and the preferred treatment for RDS is CPAP therapy, as this device helps the baby to breathe by keeping the lungs open and preventing the lungs from collapsing. Nearly every hospital in the developed world has these devices but they are strikingly absent from facilities in developing countries. The bCPAP device is one of the preferred options for low resource settings as it is more cost effective but just as clinically effective as other CPAP devices.
" I saw how I could use my business and consulting skills as a force for good..."
What an experience! Not only was I able to be a tourist and enjoy the cultural experience, as it was my first time in both countries, but the work was extremely interesting. I saw how I could use my business and consulting skills as a force for good and actually see impact on a pretty large scale. To top it off, I found out I wasn’t alone in this desire to use a business mindset to think hard, fast, and strategically but in the space of global health. Turns out, there are many people doing this and it was exciting to work alongside them for a time.
This summer, I met a neonatologist who makes bCPAP devices out of spare parts, an NGO program director who is stretched thin trying to manage multiple stakeholders to keep projects on track, a medical device specialist at a for-profit company who is committed to serving those most in need, and a USAID resource who works tirelessly to help source and scale life-saving innovations. So, while the world witnessed great tragedies, I saw first-hand the good in humanity. I witnessed so many people utilizing their strengths to make a positive impact on the lives of people who need it the most. While many have doubts after recent events, this summer gave me great hope not only that I will be able to find a space for my talents and passions, but also great hope in humanity. So, for me, this was a “Summer of Optimism.”
Thank you to all at CASE, SEAD, and the SIF program for making this summer experience a possibility for me.
1 PATH CPAP Guide to Selection