How you can fight for health equity

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WeHealth empowers patients to reach into their own communities and connect their peers with health resources. As they share, we show a map of how that message has spread through their network, so they can visualize when they help a patient, even if that patient is a friend of a friend of a friend. This makes advocacy more accessible, enabling a large group of people to share clinical trial info in a short period of time and reach underserved patients.

We are launching a campaign to reach African-American, Asian, and Hispanic Diabetics. Check out our how-to video below to see how it all works!

WeHealth Mission – YOUTUBE (3min)

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Searching for a rare disease diagnosis

JillVilesNPRThere’s a great podcast on NPR’s This American Life that I heard recently called “Do These Genes Make Me Look Fatless?” This podcast describes the diagnosis journey of Julie Viles, a wheelchair-bound Iowa mother with almost no muscle mass, who was convinced that she shared a mutation with Olympic sprinter, Priscilla Lopes-Schliep.

Despite the obvious differences between the two (see above picture), Jill saw a similarity that she couldn’t ignore. Says Jill, “It was just unmistakable. It’s like a computer that could analyze a photograph and get a match, and be 100% sure that’s the same shoulder. That’s the same upper arm. I see the same veins. I see them branching this way. You just know. And that’s hard to convey. How could you just know? But I knew we were very likely cut from the same cloth– a very, very, very rare cloth.”

Jill believed that they both had familial partial lipodystrophy (FPL), a disease in which fat is improperly stored, leading to very distinct body types — and often sudden cardiac death in middle age. Many FPL patients never receive the diagnosis that saved Jill and Priscilla’s lives. WeHealth has launched a powerful new social media-driven tool to reach these patients and connect them with life-saving diagnoses and treatments.

Check out our campaign at http://wehealth.co/goals/9/

Curing Rare Disease: What We Have to Gain

30% of children with rare disease will not live to see their 5th birthday.

This reality reflects the inability of our medical system to diagnose and treat children with rare disease. While we have made significant progress, there is clearly a long way to go. In today’s world, where technology advances at a breakneck speed, it is unacceptable that we have been unable to find a way to keep these children alive.

To put this into perspective, I performed some back-of-the-napkin math. According to the CDC (link), 1 in 500 newborns died before their 1st birthday due to a rare disease. In other words, 0.2% of all children who enter into the world never have a chance to live out their dreams. While 0.2% may seem small, if you apply it to the US population, 700,000 people could have been alive today if we had means to cure their rare disease. To see what we lost out on, I applied these numbers to several professions (numbers from Department of Labor Statistics).

Below, see what these children could have achieved, given the chance:

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We need to change the thinking that these diseases are rare.  Imagine the impact if 1,700 police and firefighters suddenly disappeared.  If we suddenly lost 8,000 doctors and nurses or 85 professional actors and musicians.  God forbid a congressman disappears.  Can you imagine the outcry?

These children have so much to offer the world.  We just need to give them the chance.