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  • Writer's pictureAnderson Bobo

Data and Analytics Push Global Health to the Future

Photo taken by Anderson Bobo

JACKSONVILLE, FL - Dr. Rajiv Shah believes data and analytics is the basis for progress in Global Health and ending the “last mile challenges” in poverty ridden countries.

Dr. Rajiv Shah spoke to a packed house Tuesday night at the University of North Florida's (UNF) Herbert University Center.

Dr. Shah, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, has always been at the forefront of well-being and Global Health for the entire world. Dr. Shah was a former administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). During that time, Dr. Shah was put in charge of the civilian and military response to the effects of the 2010 Haiti earthquake by President Obama.

Dr. Shah believes we can use “crisis as opportunity” as he lead the “largest humanitarian response the world has ever seen.”

One of Dr. Shah’s proudest achievements has been him working with the Global Alliance for Vaccines whose goal is to vaccinate children impoverished countries.

“Today because of American commitment 17 million people are saved on antiretroviral medications,”

“20-25 years ago, there were 12 1/2 million children under the age of 5 that died every year, today that number is 6 million. By 2030 if we stay with it, if we stay focused, if we’re committed to data, to science, and have the political will to fight through the nonsense and make it happen that number will be easily less than a million, maybe less than 500,000.”

Some of the “nonsense” that Dr. Shah references is from our own country. Dr. Shah was asked in a question after the speech about the growing U.S. epidemic that is known as “Anti-Vax”, in which Dr. Shah said “is a disaster”.

“Anti-Vax” is a new trend among uneducated people who refuse to vaccinate their children with no scientific or medical backing.

Dr. Shah address one main problem that could set back the world in achieving our goals of addressing global health, the “acceleration of pandemic threats”.

This threat is very real as evident in the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The Ebola virus even popped up in the United States that same year. Dr. Shah focused on how analytical data helped them make decisions in high stakes situations.

“Staying focused on data, staying focused on science and continuing to have the political will to do the right thing, we got over it.”

“Like rapid diagnostics that allowed us to make decisions about whether or not to keep people in quarantine or not.”

Dr. Shah praised the implementation of new technology in developing nations in hopes to advancing health.

“Rwanda is the first country in the world to have large scale drone based delivery. Blood and essential medical products to distal medical centers”

“We’re on the cusp of the technology revolution that absolutely allows us to be optimistic about the future”

China has been taking advantage of the the technology at hand with a new phone application that connects people from all across the country.

“This app allows them to collect basic diagnostic information from someone who reports certain symptoms and certain conditions and they can run artificial intelligence based algorithms on that data and then connect those people virtually to doctors that tend to be on the eastern part of China and reach western communities that have less services access.”

Edward Brink, a member of the audience, who is a physician with experience in international health work with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), commended Dr. Shah on his ability to convey his message.

“Who [Dr. Shaw] has the leadership ability that he has and mostly important he can speak to the public like us and we can listen. There’re some people who know but can’t speak.”

Randy Evans, a member on the board of directors at the World Affairs Council Jacksonville (WAC), helped bring Dr. Shah to Jacksonville to speak. He was ecstatic about the opportunity to bring people like Dr. Shah to the University.

Dr. Shah remains confident in our direction of the world. He was adamant in how important science will make a positive impact on global health and the human race's future. “When I look to the future I really believe that data analytics and data science will transform our capabilities”

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