Author: Mithila Rajagopal

Mithila writes for The Borgen Project from Cambridge, Massachusetts and attends Harvard University, where she is pursuing a PhD in Chemistry and Chemical Biology. She is focusing on understanding drug resistance in Staphylococcal infections. She is very interested in the intersection of global health, technology and international business.

NEW YORK — It is no news today that vaccinations are saving millions of lives every year. The cost of healthy living gained by vaccines ranges from seven dollars to 438 dollars, making vaccinations one of the most cost-effective public health interventions. According to UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, scaling up the use of existing vaccines could save 6.4 million lives, 6.2 billion dollars in treatment costs and an additional 145 billion dollars in productivity losses. Cooperation of the private sector is crucial to make strides in this intervention. Research to identify new ways of designing vaccines, or cheaper,…

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ABUJA, Nigeria — The first week of April opened with a bang for Nigeria, the fourth largest democracy in the world, with the election of the long disappointed opposition party. General Muhammadu Buhari could bring a different leadership for Nigeria, unlike one that has been in power since the country’s first civilian election 12 years ago. Nigeria has had a lot to face in the 55 years since its independence from British rule in 1960. Coup after coup ousted military presidents from their posts, a bloody civil war killed around a million people, riots due to tribal and religious tensions…

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CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts — Man is a social animal. The workings of his mind influence the society around him and vice-versa. Is it any wonder then that over-handed solutions often don’t work in the backdrop of a complex culture? Why was there so much mistrust of health workers during the Ebola crisis? Why is it so hard to convince people to get vaccinated and to change gender norms? Such questions become critical to circumvent the obstacles to the success of development projects. With grassroots approaches now becoming almost as mainstream as government projects, people are starting to appreciate the importance of…

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CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts — When one thinks of poverty, usually the mind jumps to lack of nutrition and access to safe drinking water, unsanitary environments and infectious diseases. Poverty is rarely associated with non-communicable diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Consequently little attention is paid to NCDs in development goals. However, the statistics say we should in fact be very concerned. In 2008, of the 38 million people who died from NCDs, 80 percent were in low- and middle- income countries. According to a 2009 discussion paper from the WHO, World Bank estimates that one-third of the poorest two quintiles…

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CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts — In 2013, more than 48 billion dollars were invested globally by venture capital firms supporting innovative and creative commercial ideas. Is it possible to imagine this amount of money channeled toward development and socially beneficial projects? Stepping outside its role of just supporting others, the venture capital industry itself innovated a way to make profits for their investors while at the same time achieving progress in the social sector. Social impact investing is the latest buzz word among the socially responsible. Impact investing is driven by a for-profit mentality but has social good at its heart. Sir…

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  — A disease that is rare in the U.S. has been ravaging Malawi and Mozambique in the past few months. The U.S. only sees an average of 6 cases of cholera per year. Compare this with the almost 4,000 cases reported since December 2014 in the East-African region. The death toll has reached 41 cases in Mozambique. Halting the progress of this disease is of vital importance. There are concerns that it could follow the same trend as the cholera epidemic of 2008, which caused more than 4,000 deaths. The cholera outbreak in Mozambique comes on the heels of…

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CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts — Polio is a debilitating infectious disease that still affects some parts of the world. Approximately one in 200 infections result in paralysis of the legs, and five to 10 percent of those paralyzed die. There is no cure for polio even today. Polio can spread rapidly through person-to-person contact and through fecal transmission. The polio virus can be carried asymptomatically in people who can then spread it to others. Although it can affect anyone, young children below the age of five are particularly susceptible. Due to this, World Health Organization considers even a single confirmed polio case to be evidence of…

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CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts — What goes around comes around. Until quite recently, when one thought of outsourcing, one thought of U.S. companies hiring people overseas. Of course that is still the case with many companies but, little by little, foreign companies are starting to open sites in the U.S. and hire American employees. Take the case of Infosys, a well-known technology consulting company in India. The company has opened several sites in the U.S. in the past decade. Infosys announced that, with the opening of its new headquarters and delivery center in Maryland, it planned to partner with universities in the area and recruit…

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CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts — Malaria is a ravaging communicable disease spread by mosquitoes that affects large parts of the world. As of 2014, 3.2 billion people were at risk for malaria and more than half a million deaths were reported in 2013. Lack of resources and infrastructure is a crippling problem in the fight to control malaria. Even the cost of a five-dollar insecticide-treated bed net can be unaffordable in many communities. A multi-pronged approach is needed to control and manage this disease. Such an approach would include not only mosquito control, but also preventive treatment for pregnant women and rapid diagnostic tests,…

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