First things first, Torito (the cute pup from my previous post) did not make it home today… tear.

Anyway, I went to a Social Media Week event this am called Health | Tech | Food.  We discussed how to use social technology to innovate health issues in NYC.  There was a woman from SlowFood USA, Steven Dean discussing the quantified self, but most importantly Marc Koska.

This guy was chilling in the Caribbean crewing yachts and read an article about how many nurses in India reuse syringes when giving their patiences shots.  Imagine you’re sitting at a clinic – not your fancy NYC doctor’s office where we all get thrown into separate rooms, but a clinic with various beds where you sit next to the other patients – and you see your nurse give one person a shot then hand over that same syringe to another nurse to reuse on you.  SCARY!!!! And it doesn’t just happen once. No, it happens throughout the course of the day, over various shifts; there’s a box full of syringes that just keep getting reused.  Sometimes the needle on the syringe gets so blunt that the nurses just have to keep pushing down against your skin until it finally pricks.  And these people just accept it.  Worse, they get terrible infections – HIV, syphilis, hepatitis, etc.

So, Marc Koska, instead of simply being outraged by the news & telling his friends about it over beers on the beach (like I might’ve done), packed up and went to India.  He also traveled to Pakistan & Tanzania among other countries; don’t think this only happens in India, but it was his most used example.  After really understanding the problem, he came up with a design for a new syringe that automatically disables (AD) after use, making it impossible to use more than once.  He met with the Indian President and requested a meeting with the Minister of Health, who refused the meeting until this “guru” of syringes created such a media frenzy in India that he had no choice but to accept.  And so, Marc Koska’s new AD syringe hit the market and has prevented millions of HIV infections and saved huge amounts of money not only for the individuals affected, but each country’s health system as a whole.

I think I sat there with my mouth agape.  His presentation itself was excellent – not a standard powerpoint, but a graphically interesting & engaging presentation.  And obviously the subject matter blew me away.  While I was shocked by the story and the statistics, I was mostly amazed by this man who heard of a problem and singlehandedly found a way to change it.  What also struck me was that this guy wasn’t pre-med nor did he have a passion for development or healthcare.  I am often frustrated with myself because I think I lack passion for a cause or a certain field.  I want the passion to DO something.  Marc gave me hope that you can create/find a passion in unexpected places and reminded me that ONE person really can make a difference.

Check him out at Marc Koska and SafePoint.