The initial project of the Mayo Clinic-Grameen Healthcare collaboration, led by Mayo Clinic gastro-enterologist Santhi Swaroop Vege, M.D., will focus on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of parasites, a common and persistent problem in developing countries. Mayo Clinic will offer clinical oversight and expertise, while the project will be carried out primarily by Grameen Healthcare workers in Bangladesh. The pilot project will allow the two organisations to collaboratively identify additional needs in Bangladesh that might be served by Mayo Clinic.
It will also offer experience in lower cost health care delivery models that could be applied in the United States. Translating these experiences to the underinsured in the United States is a key interest of Mayo Clinic.
Grameen Bank, founded by Nobel Peace Laureate Muhammad Yunus, has 7,7 million borrowers in Bangladesh. The bank uses a trust-based approach to lend to the poorest of the poor. Based on lessons learned over 30 years through the Grameen Bank, Grameen Healthcare has built 48 physician-led rural primary care clinics that have achieved 93 percent operational sustainability without the need for any subsidies or loans, through a combination of a micro-health insurance plan, payment at the point of service, pharmaceutical sales and lab tests.
"This collaboration allows our organisations to pursue our shared strategic priorities and vision to improve the health of populations around the world", stated Denis Cortese, M.D., president and CEO of Mayo Clinic. "Grameen has been successful in implementing low-cost distribution models in banking, which benefit the very poor. We are hopeful that together, using Mayo Clinic's knowledge of health care and effective models of care, we can leverage the same concepts of these simple and highly effective distribution models to teach prevention, diagnose disease and deliver care in a low-cost way, both in the developing world and in the United States."
Future collaborations might involve the sharing of Mayo Clinic health information and knowledge via cell phones or other technologies to rural communities and health care providers in the developing world; global research initiatives exploring the cause, prevention, and treatment of chronic diseases; and training of Grameen health care workers.
Mayo Clinic is the first and largest integrated, not-for-profit group practice in the world. Doctors from every medical specialty work together to care for patients, joined by common systems and a philosophy of "the needs of the patient come first". More than 3300 physicians, scientists and researchers and 46.000 allied health staff work at Mayo Clinic, which has sites in Rochester, Minnesota, Jacksonville, Florida, and Scottsdale/Phoenix, Arizona. Collectively, the three locations treat more than half a million people each year.
Grameen Healthcare aims to establish a sustainable health system in Bangladesh that will serve the health needs of Bangladeshis of all income levels with low-cost and high-quality health care. Grameen Healthcare will design low-cost, affordable health services for all of Bangladesh, especially the lowest income women and children, and sustain these services through social business.
In addition to existing social business partnerships with Danone and Veolia, Grameen Healthcare has recently announced partnerships with Pfizer, GE Healthcare and BASF. Grameen Healthcare continues to gather more new and innovative partners committed to harnessing best practices to build sustainable business models that can meet the unmet health needs of the poor in Bangladesh. More news on Grameen Healthcare is available in the VMW October 2008 article Grameen Health to establish independent collaborations with Pfizer, GE Healthcare, and Mayo Clinic to create sustainable health care delivery models for the developing world.