Inaugural TEDxChapel Hill a Success

On Monday, IntraHealth International hosted TEDxChapelHill, one of 82 independently organized events worldwide that included live broadcasts of TEDxChange in New York. TEDxChange was co-hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and TED to mark the 10th anniversary of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Pape Gaye, IntraHealth president and CEO, kicked off the local event by asking the audience to recognize how far we’ve come and how far we have left to go in guaranteeing all global citizens their rights to education, health, and dignity.

The live broadcast was themed around “The Future We’ll Make” and included four speakers and two live performances by Bajah + The Dry Eye Crew, musicians from Sierra Leone.

  • Professor Hans Rosling, co-founder of the Gapminder Foundation, debunked the myth that little progress has been made toward the MDGs—especially in Africa—by using his infamous bubble graphs and enthusiasm for numbers to illustrate the notable successes in Ghana and Kenya in lowering child mortality.
  • Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the event’s convener, asked the global health community to look to the marketing techniques of top corporations such as the Coca-Cola Company, which has tapped into local talent and resources to reach the most far-flung, remote locations with its product and brand. She also pointed to the company’s use of real-time data to guide its decisions and gauge its success.
  • Mechai Viravaidya, a long-time champion of family planning in Thailand who is known as “Mr. Condom,” described his quest to use fun, innovative marketing campaigns—including a “Captain Condom” superhero that visited schools and held condom blowing competitions among teachers and students—to encourage Thais to use condoms and family planning. These campaigns have shown tremendous success, including a significant decline in family size and infant and maternal mortality and a slowing of the Thai HIV epidemic.
  • Graca Machel, the current president of the Foundation for Community Development in Mozambique and a long-time social and political activist, also demanded that people cease viewing Africa as a “continent of failure.” In an impassioned address, Machel urged the audience to look at the achievements in Africa, notably Malawi’s successful response to the national crop failure of 2005 after learning from the crop failure and subsequent famine of 2002. Machel also focused on the success of post-genocide Rwanda in rebuilding and investing in gender equity and women’s education. She pointed out that Rwanda holds the notable distinction of having the highest representation of women in parliament of any country in the world.

Although the speakers did not coordinate their remarks ahead of time, all four focused on the essential role of girls and women in achieving our future success and growth as a global community, and stressed the importance of educating girls and guaranteeing their access to health care, including family planning.

Gates wrapped up the event by saying, “We’ve made more progress in the last 10 years than any other period in history combined.”

As part of TEDx, people were encouraged to share their vision of the future we make through pictures. The responses from some of IntraHealth's staff can be seen here.

A video was also made of the pre-event gathering and Pape Gaye's introductory remarks.