It is no secret that those who face poverty are the most vulnerable to disease. Disparities are widespread, especially in health, here in the United States and around the world. We know that the reasons for this are multifaceted and that to tackle the topic of poverty and health requires a multilevel, multidisciplinary conversation, where ideas are shared with the goal of sparking innovation and generating new ways to improve global health.
The Impact of Poverty on Health is one of twenty challenges our friends at TEDMED are tackling through their Great Challenges program. So many health challenges are complex. They have medical and non-medical causes and affect the well-being of millions of people around the world. These knotty problems are not susceptible to simple cures, magic bullets or one-size-fits-all solutions.
I had the opportunity to moderate the first TEDMED Google hangout on poverty and health, where leaders from around the world came together online to initiate an open dialog. Questions such as how to integrate the social determinants of health as a “must have” discussion among medical students, and the ways access to education plays a vital role in people’s understanding of health, were discussed. The Google hangout format allowed hundreds to listen via live video and participate by sending their questions and ideas through Twitter and Facebook. It brought people from different backgrounds and perspectives together to discuss health equity, which affects us all in one way or another. Although solving the issue was not the main goal, I think that solutions may already be brewing in the hearts and minds of those who participated.
You can also participate in this dialog by watching the session below. Add your thoughts on Twitter by using the hashtag #greatchallenges.
TEDMED Great Challenges is a program sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.