Health & Fitness

Healthcare tips from race to explore space

A health specialist displays a microscope
A health specialist displays a microscope innovation christened a Cyscope that is battery powered ideal for malaria and tuberculosis diagnostics. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

For space buffs, last week marked two major milestones for celestial and interplanetary travel enthusiasts. The first one, the world’s first glimpse of images of a “blackhole” captured through a myriad of telescopes that possibly lays a foundation for understanding the origins of the solar system and earth’s future.

The second was almost expected, given trailblazing space exploration firm SpaceX’s recent trend. Falcon Heavy, taunted as “the most powerful active rocket”, relaunched and returned to earth safely. This is the second time the craft has gone to space and back.

Importantly, was the manner in which this return was done as the firm successfully recovered several crucial components it had previously struggled to recapture in past launches. To understand why the recapture is important, Space X’s whole value preposition is premised on the idea that it will make space travel cheaper than NASA’s or current competitors by reusing rockets and other valuable components. Fortunately, they are proving this concept and are on positive trajectory towards manned Mars missions.

What lessons can we in healthcare learn from the space explorers’ approach?

To solve our challenges, competition is good, collaboration is better, but allowing merit to prevail is the quickest and surest way to solve global health challenges.


Regulators must realise that old operation models may not be efficient or relevant in society’s ever evolving health dynamics. Governments and funders need to acknowledge that sometimes, better solutions lie outside their jurisdiction.

The second lesson is that the competitive environment triggered by outsourcing to the private sector may unravel novel solutions. As we speak, no less than six entities are at different stages of launching unmanned or manned vehicles to space. This would have been unheard-of in the NASA oligarchy era.

Such solutions may be cheaper and quicker arrived at in private sector hands. After decades of government led space exploration efforts, the challenge has been correctly thrown to the private sector with a ‘’most efficient enterprise wins the contract” mindset. Space X, the front rider has already chalked up a lion’s share of these contracts.

And it is easy to see the positive results this has had, judging by the last few years’ space exploits. Today, no less than three Mars orbital vehicles and multiple lunar landings have been successfully launched by different bodies. It almost feels like anyone can go to space. Considering the huge obstacles involved to get there, this has only been possible by private sector ingenuity.

The next generation of health solutions must take these three components into accounts if we are to achieve anything: private sector is good in experimenting, meritocracy is mandatory to ensure this and finally rewards for accomplishment stimulate problem-solving. If adopted, HIV, Malaria and maternal mortality will end.