The Latest in Global Health, Tech, and Stories from the Front Lines of Health Care at SwitchPoint 2017

Chapel Hill, NC

Hundreds of global health experts, entrepreneurs, tech innovators, academics, artists, and frontline health workers from around the world will gather next week in Saxapahaw, North Carolina, to report on the latest in pioneering projects that improve lives, and to cultivate partnerships to further social good.  

SwitchPoint 2017 takes place April 27 and 28. Some tickets are still available.

This year’s program brings frontline health workers to the main stage, where they will share what it’s really like on the front lines of care around the world—their struggles, their inspirations, and how their life-saving services are changing their communities.

The energy of the speakers and the attendees is phenomenal.

This sixth annual SwitchPoint conference, produced by IntraHealth International, takes place in the tiny old mill town of Saxapahaw and features more than 70 speakers and performers, 21 microlabs, and two field trips. The fast-paced event is known for convening thinkers from around the world and across disciplines to focus on today’s greatest challenges in global health, technology, and development. 

“SwitchPoint is unlike any other conference,” says Pape Gaye, IntraHealth’s president and CEO. “The energy of the speakers and the attendees is phenomenal, and every year we see ideas and people that might seem completely unrelated come together to find creative solutions for social good. This year, we have a great emphasis on storytelling, and its power to influence policy, motivate our individual behaviors, even change the course of history.” 

SwitchPoint speakers include: 

Roya Mahboob, one of Afghanistan’s first-ever tech CEOs. The Taliban has never liked her mission to educate more women and girls in her home country and help them become digital citizens—in fact, the Taliban told her that if she didn’t cut it out, they would kill her. So she was forced to flee Afghanistan, but she hasn’t stopped her work.

David Moinina Sengeh, rapper, fashion designer, and IBM research scientist. Sengeh’s research at the IBM Research Lab in Nairobi, Kenya, involves medical imaging, soft tissue modelling, 3D printing—think comfortable prosthetic sockets and wearable interfaces. Now he’s designing and deploying health care technologies in Africa.

Jill Andrews, wedding gown and Ebola suit designer. Without her wedding and evening gown design skills, the Johns Hopkins team that worked so furiously to design new personal protective equipment during the Emergency Ebola Design Challenge would likely, she says, “have been using a lot more duct tape.”

Meenakshi Jain, digital humanitarian. In India, one out of every 25 children dies before their first birthday. One out of every 500 women dies while giving birth. That’s why Dr. Jain is helping to put smartphones loaded with the lifesaving mSakhi app into the hands of frontline health workers in the country’s hardest-to-reach villages.

Khadija Abdulla Ali, Tanzanian drone pilot and mapper. Ali is part of one of the most ambitious surveying efforts in history: the Zanzibar Mapping Initiative, which uses drones to create high-resolution maps of the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba.

Sanele Madela, frontline health worker. Born in the dusty streets of Dundee Sibongile Township in South Africa, Madela is now a physician on the front lines of health care in a municipality where 80% of the population lives in rural areas and HIV remains a big problem.

See a full list of speakers and register at

During the April 26 Innovator’s Forum, led by Michael Bzdak, executive director of corporate contributions at Johnson & Johnson, speakers will share ideas, tools, and goals for the year ahead and develop cross-sectoral collaborations.  

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