Haath Mein Sehat


Haath Mein Sehat (HMS), Hindi for “Health in Hands,” is a student organization at UC Berkeley that has worked to address water, sanitation, and hygiene issues in urban slums in Mumbain and Hubli, India since 2004. Moving forward, HMS will concentrate its efforts on hand hygiene among children as a way to tackle diarrheal disease and respiratory infection—two leading causes of childhood malnutrition and mortality in India. In doing so, HMS will positively impact household livelihoods by easing the economic burden (i.e. expense of money, time, and effort) often associated with taking care of chronically ill children. (Note: This project originally won in the Big Ideas “Safe Water Enterprise” category.)

Aquaponic Farming System for Mfangano Island

Big Ideas LogoIn collaboration with a U.S. based, Kenyan registered, 501c3 non-profit, called the Organic Health Response, a team of interdisciplinary UCSF, UCB, and University of Minnesota undergraduate and graduate students coming from a range of different departments including, but not limited to: medicine, environmental science, architecture, and anthropology have created a hyper efficient bio-dynamic aquaponic farming system to be built on the remote island of Mfangano, located in Nyanza Province of western Kenya. This project is to be realized during the summer of 2011 with the help of local artisans, farmers, and builders,and a group of students from UCB and UCSF. The continued iniative of the Organic Health Response and this group of students to find alternative forms treatment to the staggering prevelence of HIV/AIDS in the region prompted the need to create reliable, sustainable, economically viable, and highly efficient food production systems to turn the tide against HIV/AIDS in this region of the world.

The State of Ear Health and Rise of Tympanocentesis

Otitis Media (OM), more commonly known as a severe ear infection, is a medical condition that is caused by a variety of pathogens and affects 70% of all children under the age of three. Currently, most ear infections are treated with multiple rounds of antibiotics. With the onset of antibiotic-resistant pathogens, this type of treatment may be inefficient, costly, and time consuming. A more effective treatment is known as Tympanocentesis, a medical procedure used for diagnosing and treating ear infections. The need for the procedure is rising along with emerging bacterial resistance, but no fully-integrated device for administering the treatment exists. Current methods involve using a spinal needle tap, fed through the viewing window of an otoscope, to puncture the ear drum, which is an extremely unstable process and is oftentimes avoided by pediatricians. This project will develop a novel, single-handed, integrated, and ergonomic device that can perform tympanocentesis with existing disposable materials commonly found at the doctor’s office.

Vietnam Tooth Project

Despite decades of child nutrition initiatives, the rates of malnutrition throughout the developing world have remained high, and there is a need to explore new strategies to address this problem. Among the strategies to reduce malnutrition, there has been little exploration of the role of severe tooth decay—which is an infectious disease and the most prevalent chronic disease worldwide, currently affecting 50-95% of young children in developing countries. Over the past 2 decades, with rapid modernization and increased marketing and consumption of non-nutritious processed foods such as candy and soda, Vietnam and other developing countries face serious emerging risks to children’s oral health and nutrition. This Big Ideas project aims to solve two global health epidemics—severe early childhood tooth decay and malnutrition—using simple, low-cost interventions: fluoride dental varnish, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and oral health/nutrition education to improve the health and well-being of children in areas that currently lack access to these resources.

A Healthy Smile

The Suitcase Clinic is a student-run organization that operates three drop-in centers for the homeless and low income community of the East Bay and Alameda County. This project will expand the Clinic’s services to include dental care. By addressing the dental care needs of underserved communities, A Healthy Smile will instill newfound confidence in clients. Dental Services to be provided include comprehensive and preventative care, cleanings and surgical extractions, dental x-rays, root platings, fillings, oral hygiene instruction and supplies, and 5 anterior root canals. The Dental Service is driven to provide more comprehensive services through the belief that adequate dental care is a right of all persons, regardless of their ability to pay.
(Note: This project originally won in the Big Ideas “Social Justice & Community Engagement” category.)

Nuestra Agua Safe Water Social Franchise

Diarrheal disease from drinking unsafe water is one of the leading causes of death in Mexico. Today, millions of Mexicans in low-income communities are still at high risk of waterborne diseases because of inadequate water infrastructure and insufficient water quality control. In particular, safe water remains unavailable to those who cannot afford commercially sold bottled water. Water technology like the UV Tube, developed through collaboration between UC Berkeley and Fundacion Cantaro Azul, is an effective means to secure water quality at home. Nuestra Agua, a new social franchise designed by UC Berkeley students, will expand on the UV Tube project and offer a local, affordable, and reliable option for people who need to purchase safe water as well as an economic opportunity for local entrepreneurs.
(Note: This project originally won in the Big Ideas “Social Entrepreneurship” category.)


Water unavailability is a problem that families face in almost all of the cities in South Asia and in at least a third of the rest of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Millions of households have a piped water supply. However, water is only available through these pipes for a few hours at a time. Households faced with irregular water supply may lose hours each day waiting for water. They become stressed and regularly use unsafe sources of water instead. Part of the problem is water utilities being unable to reliably track and verify the delivery of water. NextDrop is a program that addresses this problem. As it scales up, NextDrop will use the provided information by consumers to assist water utility engineers in tracking and correcting problems of water delivery to consumers.

Mobilizing Health

Mobilizing Health is committed to increasing access to emergency and preventative healthcare for rural populations in developing countries through the use of mobile technology for medical advice and treatment. This is accomplished by using a text message-based platform to connect villagers to licensed medical practitioners in nearby towns and cities. Their goal is to help thousands of villagers by building a network of site directors who are managed by a full-time incountry Manager and two Regional Site Directors. During the summer of 2010, they have already implemented the program in 50 villages in India, and hope to expand the program to more areas in the upcoming years. Mobilizing Health tackles the issue of overcrowded facilities by giving people knowledge of how to treat the problem at their location if possible, thereby minimizing the need to travel to the hospitals and increasing equitable access to healthcare.


MobileWorks provides a platform that gives underemployed and impoverished individuals in the developing world the ability to earn supplemental income by doing work through their mobile phones. The organization accepts data entry and transcription contracts from a variety of sources-government programs in India, Western crowd sourcing companies, and traditional outsourcing companies–and sends this work to workers’ phones over a locally-accessible interface, handling payment to workers and guaranteeing quality to companies. Over time, MobileWorks users have the opportunity to earn data entry certifications and lift themselves out of poverty.