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Advancing Global Health Initiatives with Technology | February 24, 2021

February 24, 2021 @ 8:00 am - 9:00 am

Members of the Bay Area Global Health Alliance were the featured panelists in a discussion titled “Advancing Global Health Initiatives with Technology” that was part of “Finding Breath,” a UC Berkeley Haas Healthcare Association two-day conference at the end of February.

Neha Agarwal (PATH), Hema Budaraju (Google) and Tim Peck (IDEO.org) were joined on the panel by Natasha Sunderji with Accenture. Ben Plumley, host of A Shot in the Arm podcast and senior advisor for the Alliance, moderated the discussion. Their talk explored how the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated technology design and adaptation, how to bring those solutions to scale equitably, and what challenges and opportunities lie ahead.

Stories and examples enlivened the discussion—from the exponential growth (17–75% adoption) of telemedicine in the past year, to the Blue Dot AI warning of a contagion in Wuhan nine days before a public declaration by the WHO, to overlays on Google Maps that allow users to see COVID prevalence by neighborhood, and the speed with which partnerships of all types were forged to address the global pandemic.

The panelists pointed to both the importance of investing in technology infrastructure in anticipation of moments of scarcity and tension, as well as  the underlying imperative that equity and varied users’ needs be front and center in technology development and deployment.

“We have to be very cognizant of the digital divide, which has been highlighted because of the pandemic,” said Alliance board member Neha Agarwal commenting on the systemic inequities built into technology. “Partnerships are going to be the way forward. When you identify the root cause, understand that it’s multi-sectoral, and invest in bringing together the relevant partners to address it, you’ll start to see an abatement of the inequity.”

Hema Budaraju, Alliance board vice chair, continued, “Technology is an adaptation to real life. [The  pandemic has offered] an opportunity for academics, public health and technology to come together to make a difference. I hope the collaboration lasts beyond the pandemic.”

Watch the full talk:


February 24, 2021
8:00 am - 9:00 am
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