Aga and I went to see Ray Avery talk about his autobiography, Rebel with a Cause.
Ray has a mission for his life.
Use science to change the world
You can’t change the cards that you are dealt but you can change the way you play them. He sees success over a “diaspora” of difficulty. And so he set up Medicine Mondiale as an organisation to help him change the world.
We are trying to change world healthcare by getting global organisations who aren’t doing it well to improve their delivery and reduce the costs of doing so. For him, observation is the key to innovation and he learnt to observe closely because he is dyslexic and words are ‘shapes’ to his eye.
I started to look at the world to see what made things work. Few of our inventions come from linear academic research. We were investigating and watching in Kathmandu Hospitals. Incubators are ventilated and humidified with local water. This meant we were ‘cooking’ babies in a microbial broth coming from the water supply. So we patented an air filter which enabled local, unpurified water to be used.
Before this we worked on developing a cheaper inter-ocular lens for people with cataracts. This is an easy operation and truly life-changing. But each lens costs around US$300. The Fred Hollows Foundation recruited Avery to help build a factory making a new lens design in Eritrea both providing local skills, employment and around $2m profit per annum.
We collapsed the world price for inter ocular lenses from $300 to around $10.
I didn’t want to repeat the sins of other development agencies where a large percentage of programme funding never makes it to the people who need it. They get round this because ‘everything’ is categorised as programme funding including managers in the country of origin as well as visits around the globe so only around 15% of donations actually get to the project.
By an accident of birth around 90% of children have inadequate healthcare.
We think of ourselves as good global citizens. I see the world as a social anthropolgist and I think we can direct a proportion of our intelligensia to create a better world.
Think of a way you can make a difference.
What a great challenge – LifetimeHealthDiary will be thinking up ways to contribute to the disadvantaged.