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Kyu Rhee, MD, Chief Medical Officer, IBM

Kyu Rhee, MD, Chief Health Officer, IBM

By Kyu Rhee, MD

While emerging economies across the world are exploding, the sad fact is that chronic disease is taking its toll.

As the middle class grows across Africa, Asia and South America, people are living longer and also suffering from obesity and the effects of a more sedentary lifestyle. That translates into growing death rates from chronic disease.

In most African countries, cardiovascular disease is now the second leading cause of death after infectious diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis. It has been estimated that between 1990-2020, the burden of heart disease will double. Diabetes across the Middle East and North Africa has jumped 87 percent between 1990-2012, and stroke by 35 percent.

Approximately 70 percent of all cancer deaths occur in developing nations, according to the World Health Organization. That number is rising: for example, cancer is expected to increase in Sub-Saharan Africa by 85 percent by 2030. But that figure is only an estimate, since less than 1 percent of the region’s population is covered by cancer registries.

Cancer registries are used to collect accurate data across large populations. Advanced analytics technology can be applied to uncover insights so physicians and governments can save lives with better treatments, research and public health policies. While cancer registries are taken for granted in developed countries, they barely exist in emerging economies. The comparison is staggering: SP Registries Infographic

Today at the World Cancer Leaders’ Summit in Cape Town, IBM announced that it is working with the Union for International Cancer Control to create the world’s largest and most comprehensive clinical dataset on cancer patients by building cancer registries in developing nations. IBM will donate its Big Data and analytics technology and expertise to the project, which will begin in Sub-Saharan Africa and expand throughout the continent and other developing regions including Southeast Asia and Latin America.

This is just the latest example of IBM’s innovations to address the world’s cancer crisis. IBM’s Watson cognitive computing technology is advancing evidence-based treatment and research.

IBM Research has developed a microfluidic probe with a Swiss hospital to enhance cancer diagnosis, and nanotechnology to improve treatment of breast cancer with the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology. And in collaboration with the Kenyan government, IBM developed a plan to promote cervical cancer screening.

One hundred years ago, life expectancy in the U.S. was not that different that what it is today in Sub-Saharan Africa. Over the past century, we’ve gained 30 years life expectancy in places like the U.S. and the U.K. With the world becoming flatter, we’ll see the same kinds of gains in life expectancy across developing nations in merely 20-30 years.

And with improved education and innovations in population health and treatments, we can slow the deadly march of chronic disease across the developing world.
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January 30, 2015
7:05 pm

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Posted by: Connie
May 19, 2014
12:43 pm
December 4, 2013
2:49 am

I am proud to be an IBMer !!!

Posted by: Hemant
December 3, 2013
5:28 am

Proud to be an IBMer! The impact that data has on our lives is not obvious, but in fact it is becoming more and more significant in the background. So great to know that IBM has also given significant contribution to a health project… it has the potential to have a great impact, and a positive impact on peoples lives…I LIKE :-)

Posted by: Anna
December 2, 2013
12:56 pm

Congrats to IBM and Doc Rhee. Big Data is a priceless strategy to help People, Health System and Health System providers to achieve better outcomes in health.
Doc Rhee, can you talk about, in a high level, what is IBM’s smart health?

Posted by: Miguel Netto
December 1, 2013
9:45 pm

This project is the diffentiator in the milestones of healthcare domain and massive step toward this century old corporate owning the universal challege. Aeon Water is big data analytics program is working on water.

Posted by: Ramamurthy
November 29, 2013
5:05 am

I’m little skeptical that big data with bioinformatics alone could help fight cancer and autoimmune diseases. It requires vast knowledge to dig deep down into the cancer. Unless one has a good domain knowledge of cancer biology and immunology, one couldn’t do much or change the life of an individual.

If we take and develop high-end technolgies, power of computation and analysis, and collaborate with right set of people/doctors/scientists in biological and immunological domain, we could change the world.

Posted by: santosh srivastava
November 28, 2013
11:01 am

Very good article. Analysis and data and early detection and better health policies and awareness are critical here and it is great that an organization like IBM has come forward to help this noble cause which will help millions and bring back smile in the faces of the same number…

Posted by: Ujjal
November 27, 2013
8:38 pm

I really liked the article and I am proud of IBM.
I am a system architect who has been working at IBM since 2004 . I am father of a little autistic boy and I see
Big data as a great technology to help on brain mapping or any other kind of studies that might help doctors and scientists to improve techniques to solve brain diseases such as Autism, Alzheimer, Parkinson and so on .
Does IBM have any project to help on it ?
Is there any contact who I could get additional information about it ?
Thank you very much !

Posted by: Marcelo
November 27, 2013
8:02 pm

More than anything else, these kinds of solutions on such a massive scale that would slow down the spread of deadly diseases is what makes me feel proud and fortunate to work for our venerable company.

Posted by: Nara Kamath
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May 31, 2014
11:16 am

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