by Rebecca Knight
How can giving a health care worker in Zimbabwe access to a motorcycle dramatically decrease the rate of malarial infection in rural villages?
That’s just one question posed by global health delivery, an emerging field that employs some of the best minds not only in medicine, but also in economics, business and policy, to study how health care—from doctors to drugs to devices—reaches the neediest people in both advanced and developing countries. The barriers range from trade and customs policies that make it impossible for cutting-edge cancer drugs with short shelf lives to reach patients in certain countries to more prosaic logistical barriers, such as a lack of motorized transportation allowing health care workers to move from village to village.
“The key roadblocks to providing health care in resource-poor areas are not medical; they are logistical and managerial,” says Anjali Sastry, a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management, who teaches a course on the subject in conjunction with the Global Health Delivery Project, a group affiliated with Harvard University.