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Frontlines of Health: Providing Accessible, Affordable Health Care for All

Imagine waking up tomorrow with acute abdominal or chest pain. You know something’s wrong, but you’re not sure what. How long would it take for you to receive medical treatment? Could you visit your primary care doctor, an urgent care clinic, or a hospital emergency room? At Solve, we’re extremely lucky to have the MIT Medical Center right on campus. But many people around the world are not so fortunate.

In some parts of the world, rural populations often live hours or days away from the nearest medical center, nurse, or physician. Even in communities with some access to primary care, many people can’t afford even the most essential health services.

That’s why this year, one of our Global Challenges is Frontlines of Health. In this Challenge, we ask, how can communities invest in frontline health workers and services to improve their access to effective and affordable care?

Why is it called “Frontlines of Health?”

At least half of the world’s population does not have regular access to essential health services. From the slums of Rio de Janeiro, to rural Bangladesh, to the Za’atari refugee camp, too many mothers go without any prenatal or childbirth care, and infants without vaccinations or basic medication. In many places, the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of chronic or mental health conditions can be nonexistent.

Dramatic progress has been made — infant mortality rates worldwide have been reduced, and Solver teams like StrongMinds and Tomo have developed solutions to address depression at scale. But more than 50 million people a year still die of preventable and treatable conditions. Even when care is available, it’s often unaffordable. Across the globe, a health shock — when a family member falls sick and requires extensive care — has the potential to push millions of people back into poverty and debt.

To address these issues, workers on the frontlines have expanded care from inside clinics and hospitals into the communities that they serve. Frontline health workers include doctors and nurses as well as pharmacists, midwives, community workers, and volunteers. They provide services for disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment where alternatives either do not exist or are inaccessible due to cost, distance, or stigma. Without supporting frontline health workers, we cannot expand access to health care in a sustainable way.

What kind of solutions are you looking for?

The Solve community aims to find and advance innovative solutions that support and invest in frontline health workers and health services. Solve seeks solutions that make health care more available, affordable, and effective for marginalized communities. We welcome solutions from innovators around the world that are focused on:

  • Community Health Services: Expand the availability of affordable, effective community health services and treatments, and the use of data — especially through digital technologies.

  • Health Worker Support: Accelerate the training, recruitment, and decision supports for frontline health workers.

  • Coordination of Care: Enhance referrals and coordination of care between frontline health workers and higher levels of care — irrespective of geography.

  • Medical Supply Chains: Strengthen the procurement or local production of medication, diagnostic tools, and medical supplies.

How can I get involved?

We encourage anyone, anywhere with an innovative idea to apply. Your venture can be for profit, nonprofit, or even just a pilot project. Our Global Challenges are open until July 1. If you don’t currently have a solution, you can support Solve in other ways by applying to become a member or hosting a Solveathon.

What happens if my solution is selected?

Teams selected as finalists for the Frontlines of Health Challenge will be invited to pitch their solutions to a live panel of judges — our Challenge Leadership Group — at Solve Challenge Finals in New York City on September 23, 2018.

This year, our Challenge Leadership Group co-chairs are Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chair of the Board of Gavi, The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations; and Peter Sands, Executive Director of The Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The most promising solutions pitched at Solve Challenge Finals will be selected as the new Solver class. These Solver teams will join our curated community and gain access to leaders from the tech industry, business, philanthropy, government, and civil society. We’ll work closely with each Solver to understand their goals and match them with leaders who seek innovative ideas. This year, Frontlines of Health Solver teams are eligible for prize funding from the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation and Solve.

Ready to make a difference? We need your ideas to support frontline health workers across the globe. Submit your solution to the Frontlines of Health Challenge — the deadline to apply is July 1.


Surgeons operate on a patient. (Photo Courtesy of Pixabay)

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