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Über dieses Buch

Throughout history, humanity has been plagued by a myriad of humanitarian crises that seemingly take the form of perpetual human suffering. Today, approximately 125,000,000 people require humanitarian assistance as the result of famine, war, geopolitical conflict, and natural disasters. A core component of this suffering is afflictions related to human health, where disturbances strain or overwhelm the existing healthcare infrastructure to create the conditions for an increase in morbidities and co-morbidities. One of the more startling elements is the loss of life to preventable medical conditions that were not properly treated or even diagnosed in the field, and is often due to the limited interventional capacity that medical teams and humanitarian practitioners have in these scenarios. These individuals are often hindered by medical equipment deficiencies or devices not meant to function in austere conditions.
The development of highly versatile, feasible, and cost-effective medical devices and technologies that can be deployed in the field is essential to enhancing medical care in unconventional settings.
In this book we examine the nature of the creative problem-solving paradigm, and dissect the intersection of frugal, disruptive, open, and reverse innovation processes in advancing humanitarian medicine. Specifically, we examine the feasible deployment of these devices and technologies in unconventional environments not only by humanitarian aid and disaster relief agencies, but also by crisis-affected communities themselves. The challenge is complex, but the financial support and technical development of innovative solutions for the delivery of humanitarian aid is a process in which everyone is a stakeholder.



Chapter 1. The Humanitarian Relief Paradigm

When we close our eyes and picture a humanitarian crisis, we are likely to see an aurora of chaos, conflict, anger, fear, and mortality that lingers over a large group of people. However, we are also likely to see a slew of responding multilateral relief agencies and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that deploy and respond to catastrophe. The deployment of these agencies, whether it be the United Nations (UN), the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Health Organization (WHO), etc., generally follows a very long and complex interventional deployment strategy that involves numerous operating components. The aid delivery complex is generally not streamlined and often deals with a wealth of bureaucracy and dissonance between intervening agencies and the host country they are operating in. We can see how complex this process is from previous historical events such as the Haitian Earthquake in 2010 or the Rwandan genocide in 1994, where the very same agencies—i.e., the UN in these cases—that were supposed to help, actually become implicated in not providing adequate relief services. The interventional capacity of any agency is vital in not only stabilizing and promoting conflict resolution but also in the delivery of human health services via humanitarian medicine. Aid and relief practitioners and workers rely on access to equipment, services, and tools in order to provide adequate treatment and palliative care. What we will seek further on in this work is that oftentimes these individuals do not have sufficient access to the resources and materials they need to deliver care and health services to not only treat acute maladies but also chronic ones as well. But first we begin by defining the humanitarian aid complex and its deployment in real-world settings, emergencies, and crises around the world.
Krish W. Ramadurai, Sujata K. Bhatia

Chapter 2. Humanitarian Innovation + Medicine: Defining the Innovation Process

The term “innovation” is typically rooted in ambiguity, as it is often defined in an array of contexts, adaptations, and subject matters. Its definition ranges from the simple notion of being a new idea or method to the more robust application of enhanced solutions that meet unarticulated or existing market needs (Baregheh et al. 2009). The reality is that it is an umbrella term that describes the essence of human ingenuity and discovery, essentially an impetus for creating breakthroughs in problem-solving. This book is unique in that we garner a spectrum of distinct innovation processes and dissect them in order to divulge novel ways of improving humanitarian medicine and human health. Innovation gives way to an array of thought processes that all serve the same purpose—to enhance the way we solve problems. When it comes to the realm of human health, innovations have the capacity to enact change by quite literally having the capacity to save lives and improve quality of life. Innovation has no greater impact and application than in the scope of human health and medicine, as it has boundless potential to change the world around us. In delving deeper into the applications of innovation in human health, humanitarian medicine is perhaps one the most vital areas of application. What is unique about humanitarian aid, whether it be in the scope of disaster, relief, or general aid operations, is that it is comprehensive in relation to the human condition. These initiatives typically involve the delegation of clean water, surveillance, sanitation, emergency care, social services, preventative care, infectious disease mitigation, and clinical care. This means that the application of innovations must be targeted in scope and refined to be feasible and easily deployable in these environments. This is where bridging the gap between theory and application comes into play. While many times innovation is touted as the answer to solving humanity’s most pressing problems, how exactly do we turn unconventional “out-of-the-box” ideas into feasible, conventional solutions? We explore this next in defining the four types of innovation processes that can serve as an impetus for enhancing humanitarian medicine.
Krish W. Ramadurai, Sujata K. Bhatia

Chapter 3. Frugal Medical Technologies and Adaptive Solutions: Field-Based Applications

In our previous chapter, we explore the various innovation processes that comprise frugal innovation as well as novel innovation paradigms including open and reverse innovation. Importantly, we not only define the theoretical dimensions of these innovation processes but also the functional outputs in the form of tangible technologies/devices. But while the intellectual components of these processes are critical, what does this mean for the future of humanitarian medicine and innovation? The fact of the matter is that the deployment of innovation processes in conflict and crisis situations will likely consist of an amalgam of these processes that is utilized as a catalyst for high-functioning problem-solving in the field. The reality is that crisis and conflict situations are not black and white; thus the solutions developed in the field are likely to reflect this. This is where we examine the field-based applications of these technologies and their specific capacities to preserve human life. But before we delve into these medical devices, who are these devices meant for? There are three critical stakeholders in any humanitarian healthcare operation: humanitarian practitioners (i.e., doctors, nurses, aides, relief workers), community health workers (i.e., frontline public health workers from indigenous communities), and crisis-stricken communities themselves. While the scope and capacity to utilize devices varies among these groups, nonetheless, it is vital that each one of these stakeholders be properly retrofitted with the most basic of equipment, technology, and devices. In this book we take this a step further and examine how we can not only enhance the retrofitting of humanitarian operators but also their respective problem-solving and innovation processes to create “adaptive solutions.” We define these as high-utility, unconventional solutions that are derived in resource-poor settings. The reality is that while we can provide frugal devices to individuals, how do we stimulate continued innovation and the implementation of adaptive solutions on the ground? The innovation process is just as important as the device itself—a paradigm that is often overlooked.
Krish W. Ramadurai, Sujata K. Bhatia

Chapter 4. Disruptive Technologies and Innovations in Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief: An Integrative Approach

In our previous chapters, we defined the nature of an array of innovation processes as well as their applications and development for humanitarian medicine. But once again, we have merely scratched the surface when it comes to the boundless potential for innovation in humanitarian response and management. In particular, we are currently in the midst of huge tangential shift in disaster response and mitigation responses employed by multilateral agencies. This is of course thanks to the rapid advancement and integration of novel technologies and user interfaces that hold promise in changing how we as humans respond to conflict and disaster. In this chapter, we take a holistic approach in examining a spectrum of disruptive technologies and innovation that seek to propel a new era of humanitarian medicine and the alleviation of human suffering. These innovations encompass an array of fields ranging from data collection and crisis management to the integration of mobile health (mHealth) applications and blockchain platforms to better treat refugees and conflict victims. What is fascinating is that each one of these innovations has the innate capacity to revolutionize the humanitarian relief paradigm. But when these innovations are put together, they create a highly dynamic, functional innovation ecosystem that serves as an impetus for unlimited value-creation and problem-solution discovery.
Krish W. Ramadurai, Sujata K. Bhatia

Chapter 5. Humanitarian Innovation in the Modern Era: Ending Human Suffering

The ultimate goal humanitarian operations and innovation in general is to improve and enhance the human condition. With regard to humanitarian medicine and innovation, this is taken a step further with the fundamental element of alleviating human suffering and saving lives in the field. While the intentions are indeed very noble, innovation must be fostered by an evidence-based approach in conjunction with the tenets of human ingenuity. While indeed ideas open the door to novel interventions, if we are to make a true impact on the more than 63 million displaced refugees and conflict victims around the world, we must turn thought into action. The foundations provided in this book seek to take the ambiguity out of “innovation” and define its process, philosophy, and practical applications both now and in the future. Humanitarian innovation is perhaps the most extreme application of innovation, as it embraces the notion of creating something out of very limited resources. While indeed many may think that having limited resources serves as a detriment to the innovation process, we think quite the opposite. Resource-poor settings and unconventional environments employ people to think harder, deeper, and more efficiently. This creates a selection process whereby only the most practical and feasible ideas are embraced and pursued. At the end of the day, this breeds functional breakthroughs and innovations that display the same functional utility as those developed with ample resources. Furthermore, innovation is not embraced solely by highly educated professionals, researchers, academics, etc., but rather knows no bounds. The recipients and users of technological innovations often have as much or even more potential to innovate than the purveyors/creators of the innovation themselves. Ultimately, working together across geographic, socioeconomic, and geopolitical spectrums fosters dynamic creativity, enhanced problem-solving, as well as creates a better innovation. Human suffering is often viewed in the short-term in humanitarian operations; thus the interventions promoted are not suitable for perpetual application. By creating an innovation ecosystem that embraces the integration of an array of innovations ranging from 3D printing prosthetics to mHealth and blockchain technologies, we create infrastructure and human capital that will last into the future. This is where the notion of empowering refugee and conflict victim innovation comes into play. Who better to know the true realm of human suffering and the key to alleviating it than the actual people experiencing it firsthand. The future of humanitarian innovation lies not solely in the creation of novel technologies, devices, and interventions but more importantly in the knowledge transfer created and fostered. Health is fundamental element of the human condition, in which the bilateral transfer of knowledge is critical to empowering displaced individuals and promoting social equity.
Krish W. Ramadurai, Sujata K. Bhatia
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