Backed by $50 million in challenge gifts, Boston-based Last Mile Health and Living Goods in San Francisco have launched an initiative designed to transform community health care using mobile technology, Devex reports.
Announced at the 2018 annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the initiative will deploy fifty thousand mobile-phone-equipped community health workers in six countries. Skoll Foundation founder and chair Jeff Skoll, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, Children's Investment Fund Foundation founder Christopher Hohn, and the ELMA Foundation have pledged a total of $50 million to match $50 million that is expected to be raised at Davos and over the next four years. The first major commitment toward the challenge has already been made by Switzerland-based UBS, whose UBS Optimus Foundation will match their clients' gifts on a one-to-two basis, up to $10 million. Last Mile Health and Living Goods are looking to invest $170 million over the next four years to scale the initiative to three additional countries.
The project will use Living Goods' Smart Health app and home delivery model in combination with a new digital training solution from Last Mile Health's Community Health Academy to train community health workers, who will receive an app-loaded mobile phone that enables them to diagnose common deadly diseases such as malaria, diarrhea, and pneumonia, as well as register and support pregnant women and newborns with prescriptions, referrals, reminders, and follow-ups. Health workers also will be able to offer home-based family planning and locate under-immunized children in hard-to-reach areas.
"So many industries are worried about automation stealing jobs," said Last Mile Health co-founder and CEO Raj Panjabi. "This is a place where automation is creating jobs."
"This disruption is very similar to the disruptions we're seeing in so many sectors. Where mobile is coming in, it's shifting power from institutions to individuals," said Living Goods founder Chuck Slaughter. "We're not going to solve the whole world's health problems. But when we pick a country, we want to build the national solution both from a managerial and technology point of view, but also from a financing point of view — which is why while $170 million is a lot, that has to be catalytic in influencing other bigger pots of money."
(Photo credit: Last Mile Health)