Global Health and Open Source

Posted on Updated on

(First Published on Global Health Corps – Blog)

In the world of software, your best bet is open source software – usually – because, it comes free, has been developed by a community, and everyone working on it, depends on everyone else to review what they are doing to make it better. You tend to get the most original ideas, refined by the most creative minds, who have the most nobel motivations. Even if you have been living under a rock, you have heard of the popular Open Source Operating Systems (Ubuntu, RedHat, CENTOs), Office Suites (LibreOffice and OpenOffice), Mobile OS (Android) and some of the coolest tools in the technology world today (Linux Core, Apache, PHP, BIND.

If you have sent an email before, there is a very strong likelihood you used one of the 70% Servers running Apache. And you are reading this, most likely, because DNS is working fine, for you to get from your local subnet onto the internet.

At the core of it, these cool tools are developed using the “open source model” –  open source as a development model promotes:

  • Universal access via free license to a product’s design or blueprint, and
  • Universal redistribution of that design or blueprint, including subsequent improvements to it by anyone

A more academic definition of Free Software is: “Free software” is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of “free” as in “free speech”, not as in “free beer”. (Source) Freedom 1 (the second) has a precondition, to have access to the source code – that makes it opensource.

But is there such a thing as open source, outside of software?

osdc_520x292_opensourcedoctor

Yes. We can engage aspects of life – all of life –  “the open source way”.

Imagine a global understanding towards expressing a desire and willingness to share, to collaborate with others transparently. Imagine an understanding where failure is seen as a means to improve, and where all of us are constantly looking to improve. Where we go out of our way to make others better at what they are doing.

For the last 9 months, I took a break from the confines of the server room, to join the Global Health Corps. I feel like GHC, in many ways, is open-sourcing a new kind of work force to fight global health inequalities. ICT experts, architects, accountants, public health specialists, fresh graduates, you name it – all of us can contribute to the global health equity movement. The solutions are no-longer churned out only in medical school, they are traversing the globe in all sorts of shapes and forms and careers.

This is the very core of the post 2015 agenda. The Sustainable Development Goal proposed for Health is – Achieve Health
and Well-being At All Ages – To achieve this Universal Health Coverage, there are 4 underlying principles to think about:

  1. The Life Course Approach
  2. Primary Health Care a Priority
  3. Action on Determinants Through Multi-sectoral Initiatives

The 3rd one is critical to the future of health care. We cannot leave the future of our health care to only “medical experts”. We all need to roll up our sleeves and dive in.

Household Sanitation is not going to be the preserve of the Village Health Team, that is yours to deal with, that;s for you to teach the little ones. Out-of-pocket spending on health care, as a measure of household incomes – that is for health economists and policy analysts to decipher. Drug stocks, lets get managers into health facilities to streamline business processes to near perfection, and lets get more doctors into the labour suite – no mother should die while delivering, let alone, without the hands of a skilled health worker. And lets get Architects to build ‘healthy’ buildings; accounts, to manage facility and sector grants.

Lets get you to find how you can be a part of this process, and when we all curve out our niche, lets do it the open source way.

The Open Source way means we all commit to play an active role in improving the world, which is possible only when everyone has access to the way that world is designed. The world is broken in many places, but, together, we can all design the best parts of the world, and open source them to the utmost end of the world.

The world is full of “source code”—best practices, blueprints, guidelines, recipes, rules —that shape the way we think and act in it. I believe this underlying source code (whatever its form) should be open, accessible, and share-able!

Now.

 

Advertisements