Council Profiles

Perspective on Poverty: A Systematized Approach to Improving Healthcare

May 11, 2017
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Perspective on Poverty: A Systematized Approach to Improving Healthcare
Eighty percent of the Nepalese population lives in rural areas. Mark Arnoldy, pictured here in Nepal, set out to provide quality healthcare to these people. Courtesy of Mark Arnoldy
Mark Arnoldy, a NationSwell Council member, is reimagining healthcare so that it reaches the neediest of citizens worldwide.

“When you work in global health, it never feels like you’re doing enough — it’s never big enough, it’s never fast enough. People are dying for reasons they shouldn’t be for reasons that should’ve disappeared from the world 90 years ago,” says Mark Arnoldy, CEO at Possible.

As healthcare continues to be a hot topic of debate here in the United States, Arnoldy is providing an integrative system that delivers care to the poor across the globe.

Nepal is a rich environment… To try and prove that a healthcare system involving government hospitals, clinics and community health works can be successful. The country has enormous demand: 30 million people, of which 80 percent live in rural areas. After enduring a decade-long civil war [from 1996 to 2006], there’s a fair amount of political will and a lot of interest in building a system of universal health care.

Digital connectivity… Is one of the most exciting, new developments in healthcare. Five years ago, in some of these really rural, isolated areas, you couldn’t use a cell phone. Now, we’re running an integrated, electronic health system between our hospital and community health workers using an Android device.

A major, global challenge that people don’t really hear about … In a place like Nepal, there is no registration system for births or deaths. If you’re trying to understand whether some sort of intervention is effective, you don’t know who is living or who is dying. Complicating matters further is that there’s often no national identification system either.

Previously, for instance, a person would go to India for a serious operation. They would be given pamphlets and an x-ray and be expected to keep them and take them to other medical facilities as needed. When people are responsible for paper records, it’s very hard to provide quality healthcare; you can do harm to patients when you don’t have the proper history. Advancements in biometric devices — essentially machines that turn a fingerprint into a secure, digital code — enable us to rethink how we design a healthcare system. With them, we can track patients longitudinally.

It’s almost cliché at this point… But the book “Mountains Beyond Mountains” by Tracy Kidder had a profound effect on me. It’s about Dr. Paul Farmer, the cofounder of Partners In Health. It presents a very compelling narrative and challenges people around the question, What does it mean to live a moral life in the 21st century?

Reporting by Chris Peak

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