On April 13-14 Unite for Sight hosted its 10th Annual Conference on Global Health and Innovation.  Participants representing 50 states and 50 countries gathered on the Yale Campus to share ideas and experiences related to social entrepreneurship and global health. I have been to a number of global health conferences this year, but this one gets highest marks for new ideas and energy. This is a great gathering for students, scholars and innovators!


Tina Rosenberg gave the opening keynote, drawing on insights from her recent book, Join the Club: How Peer Pressure Can Change the World.  Identifying behavior change as a major public health challenge, Rosenberg challenged the conventional wisdom of public health approaches that provide sound, evidence-based information about behaviors such as drinking, smoking and poor eating habits.

The problem with public health experts, said Rosenberg, is that they have no idea how non-experts think..

Rosenberg went on to outline some key communication principles that have many implications and applications to Global Health.

  • Focus on motivation, rather than a flood of information.
  • The best messenger is “someone like me who has made the change.”
  • Marginalize unhealthy behavior –don’t emphasize the magnitude of the problem.
  • Tell people about their peers who have adopted the positive behavior.
  • It helps to support change by having a mentor AND being a mentor.
  • And Finally –small groups are powerful engines for behavior change!


We also heard from economist Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Colombia University and author of The End of Poverty. He talked about the amazing promise of information technology for global health – ehealth, mhealth, smart phones, dumb phones, GIS systems – how they can all conspire to reach people with needed information and health services.  Sachs boldly pronounced that the Post 2015 Development Agenda could end extreme poverty and eliminate  hunger and preventable disease. He also encouraged us to join the club  — by engaging with the newly developing UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (  Visit the site, register as a follower, and stay up to date on state of the art solutions to development challenges in 12 thematic areas ranging from health care to food systems to sustainable energy.

images-12Pediatrician Dr. Sonia Ehrlich Sachs  talked about the One million Community Health Worker Campaign ( for Sub-Saharan Africa. And yes, she wanted us to join the club, too! During the final 1000 days before the end of 2015 this effort (by a coalition of established global health actors) aims to put one million new community health workers into service.  These would be salaried jobs for (mostly) young women, who are given 3 months of training and ongoing supervision and refresher training.  They will be formally linked to the Ministry of Health, assuring reliable supply chains and referral mechanisms.   Here’s what the program looks like, and there are lots of ways to get involved.