Editor’s note: Nearly two-thirds of all deaths globally occur due to non-communicable diseases. Better prevention and treatment could save tens of millions of lives and reduce healthcare costs dramatically. IBM and Novartis recently sponsored the NCD Challenge, a global university competition aimed at producing innovative solutions addressing NCDs. The winners are Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley; and ESADE Business School, Ramon Llull University in Barcelona, Spain. This guest post was written by the leader of the University of California, Berkeley team.
By Emily S. Ewell, Haas School of Business, University of California-Berkeley
Chronic illness such as asthma, diabetes and cancer need tangible, targeted solutions that maximize impact with the right intervention. Our university’s team in the NCD Challenge chose to narrow in on Type 2 diabetes – a measurable condition and intersection point for countless chronic risk factors. The good news is Type 2 diabetes is nearly 100% preventable by addressing risk factors such as unhealthy diet and physical inactivity.
Focusing on the area of largest need, the developing world, we contextualized our solution in Mexico – a country with an established burden and rapid growth in NCDs. Our team traveled to Mexico City to see and learn for ourselves how diabetes could affect communities, families and individuals.
In the city’s largest hospital waiting room, we met Ana – a pregnant woman with diabetes. She introduced us to her mother and grandmother sitting next to her; all three generations in Ana’s family have diabetes. It became abundantly clear that at the core, diabetes isn’t an individual challenge, but a family challenge driven by habits – passed down from generation to generation. The only way to stop the problem, is to stop the cycle.
With widespread and lifelong behavior change an even greater challenge than NCDs, our team identified a confined touch point where a patient’s motivation is the highest: pregnancy.
We developed a solution called 2Vidas, a pharmacy membership program focused on pregnant women with diabetes. 2Vidas works because it doesn’t ask for lifelong behavior change – it’s a unique time when a woman is most motivated to change for herself and her baby; a short-term intervention with a long-term impact.
2Vidas means “two lives” and it’s a 2-for-1 solution reducing the woman’s risk for complicated birth or c-section and decreasing the child’s lifelong risk for obesity, diabetes, and other NCDs. What happens in a mother’s womb, programs a child for life.
2Vidas is not just a solution for Mexico City, but for women, families, and people with diabetes worldwide. Mexico represents the future of the developing world with rapid urbanization, adoption of Western lifestyles, and dual burdens of disease. With a targeted solution, committed team, and identified potential partners – we hope to make 2Vidas a reality to empower women, families, and communities to combat diabetes around the world.