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| March 10, 2014

‘New Solutions to Old Problems’: IRH’s Director for Social Innovation shares learnings at Chicago Council on Global Affairs #IWD2014 Symposium

To commemorate International Women’s Day 2014, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs held a half-day global health symposium on March 6. The symposium explored how women are affecting change in the health field—locally and globally—and examined the economic, political, geographic, and cultural factors involved in addressing global women’s health.

The Institute for Reproductive Health’s (IRH) Director for Social Innovation, Alexis Ettinger, was invited to share how IRH’s mobile technology solutions and other mHealth innovations are changing the global health landscape. The panel, entitled “Hacking Global Health: New Solutions to Old Problems” also featured Reid Rubsamen, CEO and Cofounder of the Immunity Project.

“We’ve reached a new era in global health,” Linda Finkel of Accretive Health said, introducing the session. “Increasingly available technology has made possible for the very first time the education, management, monitoring and training of a previously uninformed population.”

When asked about rollout process of an innovation like the Standard Days Method® via SMS, smartphone, feature phone, online or other platforms, Ettinger emphasized that success was dependent upon partnership and multiple perspectives:

“We cannot do this alone. The amazing thing about where global health and technology is going is the intersections of perspectives. I’m not a medical doctor. I’m not a technologist either. We bring together all these different perspectives, assets and abilities to accelerate change at a force that no one can create on their own. A lot of it requires private-sector engagement, and we’re working with mobile network companies to be able to roll this out at a more automated and high-level scale. But we’re also realizing the need to localize this. Just because it’s on your phone, doesn’t mean you’re empowered to use it.”

The panel compelled dialogue around gender nuances in global health, challenges in capturing behavioral impacts, and opportunities presented by the democratization of information through technology. Ettinger reflected that “…ultimately, the perspective of this audience inspires us to think about the work we have to do to continue to humanize technology and other innovations at IRH.”


Listen to the session’s full audio podcast here.

View event photos here.

Learn more about the Symposium and other panel sessions here.

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