Featured in this month's India Currents, I-MAK--Initiatives for Medicine, Access and Knowledge--works to provide health care and medicine to the poor, in the face of pharmaceutical monopolies and weak patent systems. The brainchild of Priti Radhakrishnan and her husband, Tahir Amin, I-MAK's focus is two-fold. On the one hand, the organization gives a voice to the poor by highlighting the fact that effective drugs are made inaccessible to whole swaths of the population; and enfranchising these segments of the population within the courts.
In a more institutional vein, I-MAK looks for high-priced, effective drugs that could be made more widely accessible by coming into the generic market, and it examines the patents companies have on such drugs with the goal of poking holes in frivolous patents and dismantling patent monopolies. I-MAK understands that innovation is important in the field of medicine--as such, while its main goal is increased accessibiltiy, I-MAK's team of attorneys and scientists work with governments, researches, procurers, and supliers to strengthen patent systems and encourage innovation while challenging non-meritorious patents that drive up costs.
I-MAK focues on developed nations and developing nations alike--there are issues to be addressed in both. One staggering statistic: According to the World Health Organization, 10 million lives could be saved each year if access to medicines and medical care were improved.
I-MAK is the sort of non-profit that everyone claims to want to find and be a part of: One with a sound structural mission that accompanies its broad idealism. Learn more at the I-MAK website.
InSPIRE-- India Service Program Inspiring Reflective Exploration--offers opportunities for South Asian Americans to explore, understand, and serve India. With the core belief that travel shoud be inspiring and enriching, InSPIRE looks to strengthen ties between participants and India, while simultaneously promoting service-based tourism. The experiences that these programs afford are vast--recent groups have witnessed and taken part in a sanitation rally in a Gujarati village; the building of proper sanitation in Indian slums; outreach to residents of half-destroyed settlements on the banks of the Narmada River in Madhya Pradesh; a meeting of a people’s movement that advocates for tribal rights; a heated debate on development with Delhi youth at the beautiful Lodhi Gardens. To name a few.
InSPIRE currently has three programs: One for college students, one for young professionals, and one for families. This year's trips for young professionals center around visiting NGO's in the fields of water and micro-finance. In a new move, InSPIRE is testing a "pay what it's worth" technique this year with the "young professional" program; instead of charging participants, InSpire provides a detailed break-down of what it costs to run the program, and it asks participants to decide how much to give.
Learn more here and here--there is still room for the trips that are planned for this summer. Applications for the young professional and family programs are due March 30.