By applying a basic human principle to medical care, Daniel Zoughbie discovered a very low-tech way to treat disease. He founded Microclinic International as a way to spread healthy behaviors through social networks.
“We all know that smoking, overeating, and other negative behaviors spread from person to person, but we aren’t accustomed to thinking about positive behaviors in a similar way.”
Daniel Zoughbie experienced the effects of untreated diabetes firsthand when his grandmother developed the disease. Due to lack of information and inability to get medical attention, his grandmother developed complications that eventually proved fatal.
Diabetes is now spreading at an alarming rate both in Palestine and globally, affecting 10 percent of the Arab population and, by the World Health Organization estimate, a record 350 million worldwide as of 2011. With most of these cases arising from developing nations, low-cost solutions like Microclinic International will be critical to addressing this epidemic.
The process starts when a diabetic patient recruits friends or family members to form a “microclinic.” Daniel’s teams train the microclinics and recommend key changes to diet or other behaviors that will lead to a healthier lifestyle. The groups then have the power to influence each other and reinforce positive behaviors at home. Daniel says, “People are often surprised that we’ve figured out how to make health contagious.” But, by building a “circle of influence” within existing communities, microclinics can connect with patients where traditional clinics leave off.
Since its founding in 2005, Microclinic International has expanded its operations and its focus, such as establishing a base in Kentucky to battle obesity and one in Kenya for HIV infection. Microclinic International is careful to tailor each project to its location. He says, “each community takes part in constructing a program with our staff that makes sense for their local population.” So far, early results have shown significant improvements in health and have gained the backing from governments and prominent institutions in the US, Kenya, India, and the Middle East.