Why the hospital of the future will be your own home | Niels van Namen

Nobody likes going to the hospital, whether it’s because of the logistical challenges of getting there, the astronomical costs of procedures or the alarming risks of complications like antibiotic-resistant bacteria. But what if we could get the lifesaving care provided by hospitals in our own homes? Health care futurist Niels van Namen shows how advances in technology are making home care a cheaper, safer and more accessible alternative to hospital stays.

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A new way to fund health care for the most vulnerable | Andrew Bastawrous

In 2011, eye surgeon and TED Fellow Andrew Bastawrous developed a smartphone app that brings quality eye care to remote communities, helping people avoid losing their sight to curable or preventable conditions. Along the way, he noticed a problem: strict funding regulations meant that he could only operate on people with specific diseases, leaving many others without resources for treatment. In this passionate talk, Bastawrous calls for a new health care funding model that’s flexible and ambitious — to deliver better health to everyone, whatever their needs are.

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What commercialization is doing to cannabis | Ben Cort

In 2012, Colorado legalized cannabis and added to what has fast become a multibillion-dollar global industry for all things weed-related: from vape pens to brownies and beyond. But to say that we’ve legalized marijuana is subtly misleading — what we’ve really done is commercialized THC, says educator Ben Cort, and that’s led to products that are unnaturally potent. In an eye-opening talk, Cort examines the often unseen impacts of the commercial cannabis industry — and calls on us to question those who are getting rich off of it.

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You may be accidentally investing in cigarette companies | Bronwyn King

Tobacco causes more than seven million deaths every year — and many of us are far more complicit in the problem than we realize. In a bold talk, oncologist Dr. Bronwyn King tells the story of how she uncovered the deep ties between the tobacco industry and the entire global finance sector, which invests our money in cigarette companies through big banks, insurers and pension funds. Learn how Dr. King has ignited a worldwide movement to create tobacco-free investments and how each of us can play a role in ending this epidemic.

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How to build synthetic DNA and send it across the internet | Dan Gibson

Biologist Dan Gibson edits and programs DNA, just like coders program a computer. But his “code” creates life, giving scientists the power to convert digital information into biological material like proteins and vaccines. Now he’s on to a new project: “biological transportation,” which holds the promise of beaming new medicines across the globe over the internet. Learn more about how this technology could change the way we respond to disease outbreaks and enable us to download personalized prescriptions in our homes.

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The agony of opioid withdrawal — and what doctors should tell patients about it | Travis Rieder

The United States accounts for five percent of the world’s population but consumes almost 70 percent of the total global opioid supply, creating an epidemic that has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths each year. How did we get here, and what can we do about it? In this personal talk, Travis Rieder recounts the painful, often-hidden struggle of opioid withdrawal and reveals how doctors who are quick to prescribe (and overprescribe) opioids aren’t equipped with the tools to eventually get people off the meds.

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What if we eliminated one of the world’s oldest diseases? | Caroline Harper

Thousands of years ago, ancient Nubians drew pictures on tomb walls of a terrible disease that turns the eyelids inside out and causes blindness. This disease, trachoma, is still a scourge in many parts of the world today — but it’s also completely preventable, says Caroline Harper. Armed with data from a global mapping project, Harper’s organization Sightsavers has a plan: to focus on countries where funding gaps stand in the way of eliminating the disease and ramp up efforts where the need is most severe. Learn more about their goal of consigning trachoma to the history books — and how you can help. (This ambitious plan is one of the first ideas of The Audacious Project, TED’s new initiative to inspire global change.)

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The critical role librarians play in the opioid crisis | Chera Kowalski

Public libraries have always been about more than just books — and their mission of community support has taken on new urgency during the current opioid epidemic. After witnessing overdoses at her library in Philadelphia, Chera Kowalski learned how to administer naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of narcotics, and she’s put it to use to save patrons’ lives. In this personal talk, she shares the day-to-day reality of life on the frontline of the opioid crisis and advocates for each of us to find new ways to keep our communities safe and healthy.

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This simple test can help kids hear better | Susan Emmett

Children who live in rural areas can have a hard time getting to the doctor — much less to an audiologist’s clinic for expensive, complex tests to check their hearing. The result for too many kids is hearing loss caused by ear infections and other curable or preventable problems. That’s why ear surgeon and TED Fellow Susan Emmett is working with 15 communities in rural Alaska to create a simple, low-cost test that only requires a cell phone. Learn more about her work and how it could change the lives of children who don’t have access to hearing care.

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