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Cisco Awards Young Visionary Doing Good with Tech
Digital transformation is changing the world faster than anyone could have imagined. New business models and technologies are driving profits up, shifting market share, and upsetting markets. But digital transformation shouldn’t be just about profits and revenue. These new technologies can be used to change the world and make it a better place to live. Despite record profits and the stock market reaching new highs, many of the world’s problems still exist, and everyone should be working towards addressing poverty, the climate crisis, and other issues.
One of the interesting aspects of digital transformation is that one person can make a difference that impacts thousands, or even millions, of people. To help aid these socially conscious entrepreneurs, Cisco and Global Citizen established the Global Citizen Prize: Cisco Youth Leadership Award in which a young individual is awarded $250,000 to further their mission of accelerating global problem-solving.
In December 2019, at London’s Royal Albert Hall, the Cisco Youth Leadership Award was given to Priya Prakash, the founder and CEO of India-based HealthSetGo, a company dedicated to improving the health and lives of children. The award was presented by Cisco’s EVP and “chief people officer,” Fran Katsoudas. This kind of high-level executive representation is an indicator of how seriously Cisco takes this award. Growing up in India, Prakash lived in a home that expressed their love through food, resulting in her being overweight. From sixth grade through college, she was bullied by her peers, called fat and ugly, and made to feel worthless, which obviously impacted her mental health.
As a youngster, Prakash lacked the information and support to overcome her challenges. When she got older, she decided to change and make a difference in her own life by shifting her eating habits and exercising regularly, which included weightlifting in college. This led to a healthier lifestyle and a confidence boost.
Prakash is now 28 and founded HealthSetGo, a company using digital technology to empower parents, doctors, schools, and governments to make data-driven decisions to improve the health of children in India. The inspiration for the company came from her mother and the former first lady of the U.S. Michelle Obama, who had her own mission of ending childhood obesity.
The company uses data analytics to create a “digital health report card” that provides a common view of a child’s health to schools, doctors, teachers, parents, and anyone else that requires it. HealthSetGo examines each student in the school to help find and diagnose diseases or other issues the child might have. During health examinations, doctors record the information in real-time on HealthSetGo’s proprietary app and make it instantly shareable. This provides a single place for medical records to be stored for children ages two-17. Doctors and medical professionals can then also prescribe medications and even eyeglasses based on the information provided in the report card.
The organization also sends health education boxes called “HealthSetGo CAREBox” to schools monthly. These are experiential learning curriculums customized for specific age groups and focus on physical health, mental well-being, hygiene, sanitation, food, and nutrition. The boxes also contain fun activities for teachers to teach handwashing and the risks associated with unhealthy foods.
In many regions of India, children have never seen a doctor before, resulting in many students having conditions undiagnosed and left without proper treatment. Now because of Prakash’s work, HealthSetGo is now India’s largest healthcare organization for schools, currently operates in 77 cities, and has provided services to over 200K children. The prize money provided by Cisco will be used to expand access to health care services and to create a sustainable model, so HealthSetGo can be self-supporting.
The work Prakash has done is yet another proof point that one person with a desire can make a difference. Former Cisco CEO John Chambers used to talk about how the Internet and education were great equalizers in the business world. This mission has certainly been taken to the next level under current CEO Chuck Robbins and SVP of corporate affairs, Tae Yoo. Instead of technology being used to equalize business, digital technologies can be used to create societal equality where everyone can have access to food and basic health services.