Saturday, September 25, 2010

Health-care Books: Digital benefits

UnaMesa has opened office in Palo Alto as a hub for service innovations, including new approaches to health care, education; it provides free software tools and web services for schools, clinics, and other community organizations. When I first heard of UnaMesa in 2006 from fellow Digital Vision'er Greg Wolff it was a vision but today "UnaMesa acts as an R&D organization with projects that bring together industry, academia, and NGO's to develop and distribute effective tools for social services. UnaMesa maintains the educational materials, software, and other "intellectual property" developed by these projects as a public trust. Much like organizations that acquire and preserve land on behalf of the public, UnaMesa acquires copyrights and related intellectual property and promotes the use of those materials for the public interest."
Technology can change the game when it comes to social impact but so far, research and development has been too expensive for non-profits to take advantage of. UnaMesa is changing that. At the launch party I attended earlier this month, the story told by Sarah Shannon of Hesperian Foundation provided a vision for the future. The foundation has been around for a while and has developed health related books. These books were in English and would get out of date by the time they would get published. Working with UnaMesa, Hesperian has gone digital: books translated into 32 languages, regular updates available instantly for download and a repository that continues to grow because the staff can focus on creating the content. For example the publication "Where There is No Doctor" empowers communities who may have no health-care professional in the area with access to basic medical information.
Congratulations Greg - a DV changemaker.

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