I have been following Melinda Gates blog and have felt an affinity with her values; the way she is emphasizes the importance of story to produce truth and hope, and her emphasis on the well-being of women and children, so I think I am going to enjoy this.  She is starting her TED by talking about hope and er…Coke? It is a fair bit of airtime on Coke’s successful business model, and while I get that, this is not what I expected. Key strategies are use of real time data, local franchising and incentives, and great marketing that is aspirational. These insights can, are, and should be applied to realization of the MDGs.  She is making the link to an Ethiopian program where child mortality has dropped dramatically because if health extension workers…..Now Melinda is having us watch a Coke add… it is moving.  Still, I reflect on our recent campus conversation inspired by Michael Pollan’s , “In Defense of Food,” and I am cognizant of all the obesity and health problems caused by consumption of colas, and corporate food models generally.  So I’m not sure “I’d like to buy the world a coke…”  — I would rather teach the world to sing or plant a garden and I do think it is important to remember that the person who dreamed of teaching the world to sing came first. Probably Melinda knows this…I think we grew up on the same songs…Now she is on to open defecation …a serious health problem but the solution, toilets, have to be marketed socially.  The same with male circumcision…..Now she is addressing Polio and how local data can be used to prevent outbreaks.  Unfortunately donors are losing patience with polio just when we are so close to succeeding. See Melinda for yourself….

The takeaway for this session for me is that in order to be informed citizens people from all disciplines need to understand health statistics the way they understand football or baseball or soccer stats….We also need to learn from successes from all sectors, including business, and, I would add, we should also remember and emulate the incredibly legacy of civil society and rights-based movements.