Leading Researcher in Health Innovation: The Technology Must Be Customised – University of Copenhagen

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18 August 2017

Leading Researcher in Health Innovation: The Technology Must Be Customised

Innovative technology can solve major health problems. But only if it is developed directly for the society that will use it, Professor Muhammad H. Zaman from Boston University explained in a guest lecture held at the Department of Public Health.Muhammad H. Zaman

Even though the sun was shining outside, a good deal of students showed up in the basement below the Department of Public Sciences for the School of Global Health’s open lecture this Monday afternoon, which was part of their summer school on ’Global Health Challenges’.

The great draw was a lecture by Professor Muhammad H. Zaman from Boston University aimed to inspire the students to understand and develop innovation for the health sector. For the poorest countries in the world especially.

Technology Alone Does Not Solve Anything
Muhammad H. Zaman is a professor in biomedicine in Boston, and he has helped develop health technology for countries like Ghana and Indonesia, including an instrument for identifying false medicine. You dissolve a pill in a particular liquid and insert it into the instrument, which then tells you whether you have the right type of medicine. His main message to the young students was to look at their inventions and innovation from the perspective of the developing countries.

                  ‘Technology and innovation allow us to develop tools for addressing the current great health problems. On the other hand, it is important for me to say that technology alone does not solve anything. The students need to think about how technologies can be integrated directly into the societies that will be using them’, he said. 

Knowledge of the Recipient Is Vital
According to the professor, this way of thinking innovation requires getting to know and understanding the systematic problems facing the countries for which you want to develop the technology.

                  ‘Historically, we have tried to find solutions to a specific disease and only that disease. But the main health problems are propelled by large underlying factors like overpopulation, climate changes, drought and armed conflict. It is with these large perspectives in mind that we can develop health technologies that really matter’, he said. 

A New Way of Working with Health
The organisers at the School of Global Health were happy to be able to attract someone like Muhammad H. Zaman to give a lecture in Copenhagen.

                  ‘He is a skilled and dynamic communicator, who participates actively in the public debate in American media. It is important for us to attract a vivacious speaker like Zaman, who addresses real problems and suggested solutions. Both the ones that work and those that do not. In addition, it is part of our DNA to focus on preparing the students for the labour market they will face after graduation. This event gives them a chance to get a sniff at a different way of working with health that focusses on innovation, interdisciplinarity and the development of health technology’, Project Manager Emil M. Morell explained.

More Opportunities for Future Cooperation
Presently, Muhammad H. Zaman does not cooperate with researchers in Denmark, but he nevertheless considered his visit to Denmark fruitful. 

                  ‘I have already discussed the opportunity of a future cooperation with several people here in Copenhagen. The School of Global Health and Boston University could benefit from learning about each other’s systems and technologies. In addition, we have
also talked about giving Danish students a chance to visit us in the Middle
East, where we work in areas marked by conflict and refugee environments. To
give them a new perspective on how we think innovation’, he concluded.

Article by Mathias Traczyk, SUND Communication at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen.Til toppen