Reflections from the 2018 Skoll World Forum

Post submitted by Julie Smith, Medic’s Director of Development. Above, panelists on Skoll’s “Leveraging Technology To Close The Distance In Global Health Access” session. 

Last week, I attended the 2018 Skoll World Forum with our CEO, Josh Nesbit. The theme of the gathering was “The Power of Proximity.”  According to Sally Osberg, the President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation, “proximity is a powerful force … [that] triggers empathy in individuals and institutions to best fulfill their missions by keeping close to those they serve, where they can appreciate the results of their efforts, learn from experience, and respond to changing contexts.”

For the conference, Medic hosted two community health workers who use our tools, along with their supervisors – Kishor Kumar and Monalisa Padhee from Barefoot College in India and Consolata Juma and Kennedy Oruenjo from Siaya County, Kenya Ministry of Health.

Monalisa Padhee, Program Head, Women Wellness Initiative and Enriche Health at Barefoot College International.

On Wednesday morning, these four participants participated in a panel moderated by Josh –“Leveraging Technology to Close the Distance in Global Health Access.” The panel and session attendees engaged in a powerful conversation about the importance of community health workers as lynchpins in building and maintaining strong health systems. Other panelists included colleagues and partners from Living GoodsVillageReachLast Mile Health and The Financing Alliance for Health. Spanning a wide range of positions and expertise, the panelists represented a cross section of organizations working to create new models of health systems seeking to achieve universal health care access.

Discussion topics included a description of a day in the life of a community health worker. Consolata from Siaya County and Kishor from Barefoot College shared what a  typical day looks like and described how supportive mobile tools make their jobs easier and facilitate their work in challenging environments. The panel also discussed the role of governments in the creation and adoption of these new systems and hopes for the future.  

Consolata Juma a County Health Assistant for the Ministry of Health in Siaya County, Kenya. 

Consolata and Kishor brought us back to the power of proximity. Consolata explained, “The most important thing I offer my patients comes from my heart. When I come to care for my patients when they are ill, they know that they belong, that they are not alone, that another human cares about them.” The core of this work, Consolata and Kishor explained, ‘is care, a human act of love. Technology doesn’t replace humans in providing care – it supports them.”

One highlight of the week was the presentation of the 2018 Skoll Awardees. These individuals remind us that we all have the capacity to bring positive to change to our communities, our countries, and our world. Great ideas generate excitement and investment and, in a few short years, are changing landscapes.  Each of the social entrepreneurs recognized found solutions to improve the human condition and invested themselves in creating social change.  

The conference theme of “proximity” made me reflect on how privileged Medic is to be at the center of a community of tech entrepreneurs, social investors, concerned citizens and dedicated employees – all dedicated to the work of  our end-users. This year’s Skoll World Forum was a great opportunity to see that work recognized.

Photo credit: © 2018 Skoll World Forum 

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