According to the United Nations SDGs, more than 400 million people have no basic healthcare and another 1.6 billion people live in fragile settings where their health and healthcare are at risk. Nearly 28 million people live with HIV, and another 15 million are awaiting treatment. Every two seconds, someone between the ages of 30 and 70 dies of a non-communicable disease such as cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes, or cancer. In 2019, NPR reported that although people around the world are living longer, we still have health challenges to overcome including cholera outbreaks in Yemen, Ebola outbreaks in the Congo, and global air pollution. In addition, nearly ten million people died in 2017 because they had no access to health care or the quality of healthcare was too poor. Health impacts each of us on a personal level and is also a major cornerstone of the well-being of society and our economy. In the United States, the healthcare sector is now the largest employer, and globally, healthcare is poised to become a nearly $9 trillion industry by 2020.
Exponential technologies are continuing to make strong headway in solving the health GGC—in almost too many ways to count. With the digitization of healthcare, scientists are able to use big data, machine learning, and other tools to better understand the causes of health problems as well as their possible treatments. We live in an age of personal wearables, electronic medical records, consumer DNA and microbiome kits, new forms of medical imaging technology, and “Alexas” that listen in when you cough. As a result, data is increasingly available to both better understand large-scale trends that may contribute to diseases impacting millions of people and to inform personalized precision medicine approaches to treat individuals in a way that was unimaginable in the past.
New technology devices continue to emerge, ranging from lab- on-a-chip diagnostics that make identifying health challenges quicker, cheaper and more convenient, to sophisticated printers that use human bio gels to print organs. In 2019, Tel Aviv University announced it had printed the ﬁrst (rodent-sized) human heart.63 Additionally, robotic surgery is now commonplace in certain areas of the world, allowing for minimal incisions, less mistakes, and less postoperative pain. The Robot Business Review reports that the surgical robot market is expected to nearly double in size from $3.9 billion in 2018 to $6.5 billion in 2023.64 Speaking of robots, in 2019, drone company Zipline reported it is now delivering medical goods to 22 million people in Ghana and Rwanda,65 and SU Portfolio Company Matternet, in partnership with UPS, reported the ﬁrst commercial drone logistics system for delivering medical goods in the United States sanctioned by the Federal Aviation Agency.
In 2018 and 2019, scientists and the public alike grappled with the ethics of genetic engineering when a scientist in China claimed to have genetically engineered the ﬁrst humans. This, along with other developments in the ﬁeld of longevity tech, will no doubt continue to make us wrestle with what it means to be human as we transform ourselves through technology.
https://www.sciencealert.com/researchers-have-just-3d-printed-a-mini-heart-using-human-tissue https://www.roboticsbusinessreview.com/health-medical/5-surgical-robots-2019/ https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/24/with-ghana-expansion-ziplines-medical-drones-now-reach-22m-people.html
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