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Worldchanging Interview: Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Health Solutions
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Photo courtesy of CNN
sanjaygupta.jpg

A few days ago, we conducted an exclusive email interview with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, chief medical correspondent at CNN. Dr. Gupta, a practicing neurosurgeon and award-winning journalist, has traveled around the world to deliver live reports from the sites of natural disasters and combat zones, and has produced special reports dedicated to helping improve public health and spreading awareness of health-related environmental issues.

Below is a transcript of our correspondence, where Dr. Gupta shares the best health solutions he has come across, and describes their implications on both a global and a very personal scale.

Worldchanging: In your opinion, what will be the major health questions of the next generation, both in the developed and the developing world?

Dr. Sanjay Gupta: The biggest questions will be how to get the lifesaving technology, techniques and wisdom that are available to a relatively small percentage of the world into the hands of the entire world. The question of access will have to be fully addressed and that affects both the developing and developed world. Someone once said to me that if the "cure for AIDS came in a glass of clean water," we still wouldn't be able to rid the world of AIDS. The problem is access and we have to solve it.

Worldchanging: Livable cities are a potent weapon in the fight against climate change, so making cities healthy and attractive places to live is a key strategy. If you were a member of the team planning a city or urban neighborhood, what amenities would you place nearby, and why?

Gupta: Too many of our cities are built with an eye toward commerce, instead of health. As a result, we have parking structures instead of parks and roads instead of walkways. There are plenty of examples where you can do both. Healthier cities are successful cities. I would focus on increasing the amount of green space, because it is good for the earth and for our own bodies. I might buy thousands of bikes, paint them a really ugly color (so people wouldn't steal them...) and simply distribute them around a city. I would paint quarter mile markers on every walkway, so citizens could always have feedback on how far they are walking. I would also want to see urban gardens like they have in the south side of Chicago. Teaching my kids to garden would provide immeasurable rewards both for them and for their community.

Worldchanging: Worldchanging has covered a lot of innovations that use technologies originally developed for other applications to solve medical problems. (One recent example, Project Masiluleke, uses SMS text messages to get
the word out about a public AIDS helpline.) In your travels, have you encountered other creative innovations like this that are making a difference?

Gupta: There are so many examples out there. I did have a chance to see first hand the One Laptop Per Child organization that Nicholas Negroponte put forward. It is bold and forward thinking, and a colleague of Negroponte's even used the analogy of comparing these computers to vaccinations. They are, after all, life-making tools. The laptop project also encourages literacy...which of course has health benefits too, since people are able to share health information.

Worldchanging: Who are some of the worldchanging doctors (or other medical professionals) you know who are making a difference?

Gupta: Paul Farmer is one of the most remarkable and selfless doctors I have met. He has built free health clinics where nobody thought they could work. He has saved and improved countless lives by using the existing infrastructures in places like Haiti and Rwanda and improving upon them. He is also a relentless public health advocate, and is redefining health diplomacy.

Worldchanging: In the past, Worldchanging has covered many humanitarian solutions for bringing clean drinking water to communities in need. What solutions do you think offer hope for spreading access to clean water for all
people?

Gupta: Earlier this year, I hosted a documentary called The Survival Project: One Child at a Time for CNN. One of the special guests was actress Lucy Liu, who spent time all over the world looking at the issues of clean water and its impact on communities. I have seen how people living in underrepresented places may spend their entire day traveling to wells with a bucket in hand. The walk takes them hours and then of course, hours to walk back with heavy water in hand. It is impossible to live a healthy life, let alone make a life. I was pretty inspired to read about the TAP project, a fund-raising campaign. You can read about it more at UNICEF's website, but it will remind you of the value of tap water, and what we can do right now to improve the access to something we take for granted.

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Comments

Thank you for this interview! It is so inspiring to hear about people like him and Paul Farmer that are using their expertise and recognition to make a difference.


Posted by: Risa on 10 Dec 08

Not all methods of improving health worldwide are expensive. Simple ways to clean and filter water, or provide the means to make solar cookers, can drastically improve health. Bed nets as a barrier to mosquitos can drastically reduce malaria. Health education and birth control, condoms to reduce HIV transmission, the list of what we can do simply and inexpensively can go a long way im improving health worldwide.


Posted by: Nancy on 14 Dec 08

Thank you for this interview. However, if you have the opportunity to interview him again, I have some questions I hope you will consider putting to him. I'd like to know what he believes are the keys to longevity and quality of life. For example, is it the food we eat, is it bioidentical hormone replacement, is it limited use of pharmaceutical drugs, etc. Or, does he not put much stock in these factors?


Posted by: Gretchen on 6 Jan 09

Hi Dr.Sanjay Gupta I am 11 years old and I have a queation for you about health.... What do you think about "Eat Right For Blood Type"? my mom is always telling me to eat right for my blood type and if you could email me back I would appreciate it Thank You.

Jayaprit:D


Posted by: Jayaprit Singh on 8 Jan 09

Well said, thanks you for your good guiding vision interview, as a ordinary indian citizen we would says that your valuable good interview not only develop me and but also rest of Indians but I strongly believe that every life has up and down, Without god blessing even small leaf can not move, if we take this small example book for our references, Rich dad Vs Poor dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki,

Once again thanking you

yours sincerly
alok
bhubaneswar


Posted by: Alok on 21 Mar 09

Well said, thanks you for your good guiding vision interview, as a ordinary indian citizen we would says that your valuable good interview not only develop me but also develop rest of Indians but I strongly believe that every life has up and down, Without god blessing even small leaf can not move, if we take this small example book for our references, Rich dad Vs Poor dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki,

Once again thanking you

Yours Sincerly
Alok Patnaik
bhubaneswar


Posted by: Alok on 21 Mar 09

Well said, thank you for your good guiding vision interview, as a ordinary Indian citizen we would like to says that your valuable good health tips interview which was not only develop me personally but also develop whole Indians including myself but I strongly believe that everyone’s life has up and down, Without god blessing even small leaf can not move, if we take this small example book for our references, Rich dad Vs Poor dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki,

Once again thanking you,

Yours Sincerely,
Alok Patnaik
Bhubaneswar


Posted by: ALOK on 21 Mar 09

Well said, thank you for your good guiding vision interview, as an ordinary Indian citizen we would like to says that your valuable good health tips interview which was not only develop me personally but also develop whole Indians including myself but I strongly believe that everyone’s life has up and down, Without god blessing even small leaf can not move, if we take this small example book for our references, Rich dad Vs Poor dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki,
Once again thanking you,
Yours Sincerely,
Alok Patnaik
Bhubaneswar


Posted by: ALOK on 21 Mar 09

Dear Dr Gupta,
Your talks on various health issues admired me a lot.My two daughters at he age of 19 and 20 are on pre-med program wanted become doctors to work for the world community with an hospital in India. pls. click to msmc.in our web site the future of this program. Would like to get in touch with you for the good advise fort his project. Like to see you face to face to get your blessings.

Sincerely,

TS John
MSMC


Posted by: T.S. JOHN on 27 Jan 10

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