Trends to 2020

Saving lives

Making significant positive change does not always require huge buckets of money

Living in London I take quality healthcare as a given. A few weeks ago I was speaking at the TEDxKPMG DELHI conference in Delhi, India. Two of the speakers, Dr Amit Chatterjee & Rohit Bhasin, opened my eyes to another world.

First, rural healthcare. As some of you will know, one of the key health performance measures is the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR). It is the number of deaths of infants under one year old per 1,000 live births. In the UK, IMR is about 5. The UK ranks below many countries including all the Nordics. In one of the poorest states of India the IMR has been about 61.  Hence, proportionately more than ten times as many babies died in their first year in this state as in the UK. In anyone’s book that is terrible.

Dr Amit Chatterjee is medical doctor who joined KPMG in India earlier in the year and has become a good friend.  He specialises in helping communities in India who cannot afford the most basic of healthcare.

He has been involved in a project in India aimed at improving the most basic of care. It required a relatively small amount of funding.  After a fair amount of analysis, the project was able to help implement a number of improvements in infrastructure, better availability of staff and some other good practices.

During 2012, the IMR has fallen to something like the mid-40s.  This is still relatively poor. But in human terms the improvement means that more than 10,000 babies in the state will survive beyond their first birthday this year.

Secondly, basic hygiene. Millions of infants die each year from diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections.  According to a number of studies getting people to wash their hands and use soap is the most cost effective health intervention to prevent infant mortality through preventing much of this diarrhoea and infections.

Rohit Bhasin promotes Lifebuoy disinfectant soap. For those who do not know, Lifebuoy soap was launched in 1894 to combat cholera. Rohit is on a mission to educate people across the developing world to wash their hands five times a day with soap. Aside from selling more soap, for Rohit the other driver is quite simple; savings childrens’ lives. 

The team has initiated all sorts of activities to raise awareness of washing hands. World records have been set, educational activities, games and many others which have reached hundreds of millions of people across the developing world.

These are two very special individuals whose passion saves lives yesterday, today and tomorrow.  Since the conference I have found it hard to forget their stories.  All of us cannot aim to save lives every day.  But, I do think that we can apply some of the lessons to our own businesses.

I would highlight:

•    Making significant positive change does not always require huge buckets of money.
•    Passion, analysis, evidence and persuasion are needed to change engrained habits.

My final thought. As we move to 2020 it will be more and more important for businesses to have a purpose beyond simply making money.  Is the purpose of your company clear?
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Tags: delhi, health care, india, infant mortality, kpmg, lifebuoy, london, unilever

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Adam Bates is a KPMG partner responsible for the risk management practice. He has also recently taken on responsibility for driving innovation, creativity and futurist thinking at KPMG.

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