Essays on Science and SocietyIBI* Series Winner

Engaging Undergraduates in Global Health Technology Innovation

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Science  27 Apr 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6080, pp. 430-431
DOI: 10.1126/science.1213947

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It takes only 90 minutes to fly from Miami to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, but the cities are a world apart. A baby born in Port-au-Prince is nearly 10 times as likely to die before age 1 as an infant born in Miami. Life expectancy on the island is almost 20 years shorter than in the United States. That such disparities persist despite renewed public and private commitments to improve global health illustrates the need for a new generation of innovators who recognize the challenges and can design and deploy new health-care technologies that are both highly effective and affordable (1). In response, we and others have developed educational programs to engage globally minded healthcare innovators (2). Our approach is inspired by a Haitian saying that captures the essence of inquiry-based education: “You don't learn to swim in the library; you learn to swim in the river.”