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From toothpicks to treatment

Dr Adler Archer on how we can use our entrepreneurial skills to have an impact on global health

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Adler explains how he got involved in global health issues, and why he believes we can all play a role in working towards equal access to better healthcare around the world.

Earlier this year, King’s Business School PhD student Adler Archer was selected as part of the inaugural cadre of King’s Global Health Ambassadors, supporting the King’s Global Heath Institute in its mission of supporting the delivery of quality healthcare in less developed settings around the world. 

Adler explains how he got involved in global health issues, and why he believes we can all play a role in working towards equal access to better healthcare around the world:

Back in 2008, my group of friends learned of the amazing work the Ah-Gah-Pay Mercy Children Centre was doing to serve HIV/AIDS infected and affected orphans in Nairobi. We wanted to support the centre, so we decided to organize an art auction to raise funds to subsidise operational costs and support building projects at the orphanage.

Unable to afford to buy artworks for the auction, we set about trying to convince artists to donate their works to us gratis. To our delight, the local artist community was unbelievably generous...and creative, with one artist making an  entire sculpture out of toothpicks. Many small businesses pitched in with donations of goodies to be raffled off at the auction.

Our auction series provided artists with an avenue to use their creativity to help others. It gave small businesses a way to show their support for a good cause and our community a way to support orphans halfway around the world, while also taking home beautiful art and awesome prizes. It showed me the ability of social innovation to empower everyday people in support of global health; that doing work to help others could be both exciting and accessible.

In the decade since, I have continued to be moved and motivated by the power of innovation  to allow individuals to have an impact on global health. A few years ago, I joined the board of directors of Intelehealth, a global telehealth charity.

Our team developed an extremely low bandwidth telemedicine platform designed for developing countries now operating in Haiti, India, the Philippines, and Syria. It trains community members to serve as rural health workers, collecting patient information independently and then connecting those patients with doctors remotely to obtain diagnoses, prescriptions and referrals.

As I reviewed video testimonials of patients in rural India discussing the world class treatment they have received through the Intelehealth platform recently, I was reminded of the videos sent by the children and staff at the Ah-Gah-Pay Mercy Children Centre.

Whether we are artists in Colorado creating masterpieces in support of orphans in Kenya, doctors at a university like Johns Hopkins connecting via telemedicine to deliver transformative care in Syria, or residents in rural India learning to collect patient data from our neighbours we can all play a part in helping people towards vibrant health.   

Social innovation and entrepreneurship democratize pathways to get involved in global health. 

My experience over the last 15+ years has proved to me that being a social innovator and entrepreneur does not necessarily require large sums of money or access to powerful networks. It simply requires an openness to be curious about the needs of those in developing countries and a willingness to use one’s talents and energy on behalf of global health.

So how will you use your talents to help in this movement?

Adler Archer is completing a second doctorate at King’s Business School, focused on the impact of identity and institutions on physician engagement in health systems innovation. This builds on his previous work at John Hopkins University.

Adler serves on the Board of Directors for Intelehealth, a global telemedicine charity. He is also on the Board of Advisors for Chase Brexton’s LGBT Health Resource Center, and the Governing Council for the London Meditation Centre.

In this story

Adler  Archer

Adler Archer

PhD Student