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Key issues in global public health and how to fix them

2018 Health Conference PanelExperts in the field of global health representing many different corporations, research organizations and non-profits came together at the 2017 Healthcare Club Conference at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. They explored issues that the world will experience in the coming years and proposed solutions.

Key issues

  • The growth of the aging population comes not just from baby boomers, but also from people living longer and will place a burden on the healthcare industry.
  • There will be a shortage of healthcare workers internationally. Not only do the patients need nurses, doctors and assistants, they need to be present, ready, educated, connected and safe. They also need to be able to work through cultural, linguistic and social barriers.
  • Family planning and reproductive health is another huge issue globally. There are more than 200 million women in the world who are not using any birth control methods but do not wish to become pregnant.
  • There is a difference in healthcare and optimal health care. Don Turner, global head and SVP of business strategy and commercialization at IBM Watson Health, explains a relationship with healthcare in three steps. “First, do you have pure access? Meaning, can you get to the doctors office or clinic and do you have the insurance or the means to pay for it,” Turner says. “Second, is the breadth of care. Does the clinic you are in offer the exact services you need. And lastly, is the quality of care. Are you getting the best that you can at the least possible cost?”


  • Markus Saba (MBA ’93), former head of marketing for diabetes brands at Eli Lilly and Company, describes a program for reaching the uneducated and rural populations in China and India. “Typically programs are set on a three-year schedule, but projects like these that require lots of initial education and capital will not generate change in that time.” This is why Eli Lilly has set programs like these to be on a 10-year plan to give the efforts more time to cultivate and generate growth.
  • Technology can be a huge solution in terms of connecting and educating health care workers. Maureen Corbett is the VP of programs at IntraHealth International, a non-profit that focuses on supporting healthcare workers. She describes how technology can help create an online directory with all the educated and able healthcare workers present in a specific community to allow for more efficient care and for companies to see where there needs to be extra attention and aid.
  • Task shifting and further education will help doctors. Doctors who don’t want to live in rural areas can train local healthcare workers to administer basic healthcare methods, like prescribing birth control pills or inserting IUDs. This can help save women from dangerous pregnancies.
  • A huge issues doctors and physicians have today is the mundane and enormous amount of administrative work. Creating a bigger medical and hospital administrative staff will save clinical physicians hours of time and allow them to treat more patients.

By Emily Brice (BA ’18)