Gun Violence: Sourcing Solutions in Response to a Public Health Emergency

In the United States, there are 88.8 guns per 100 people compared to 6.2 in England, and there are 3 gun murders per 100,000 people in the U.S. compared to 0.1 in France. Each year in the U.S., there are 22,000 gun suicides, and 75 pre-schoolers are shot dead. Each day in the U.S., 96 Americans are killed with guns.

Gun violence is a public health emergency in the U.S. Inaction by elected representatives and political gridlock in the House and Senate means the public health response must be both urgent and innovative.

The Consortium for Affordable Medical Technologies (CAMTech), based at Massachusetts General Hospital Global Health, is a global network of academic, clinical, corporate, government, and non-profit partners working together to drive health innovation around the world. Collaborating across sectors and geographies, CAMTech identifies pressing healthcare needs, sources innovative solutions, and accelerates the cycle from idea to patient impact.

In our recent commentary with Harvard Medical School, CAMTech emphasised that communities disproportionately affected by gun violence and survivors of this epidemic deserve and demand meaningful solutions. In an area with a dearth of inaction, CAMTech will employ a public health approach to gun violence prevention to generate innovations that can address gun safety, mental health, community resilience and policy.

The Gun Violence Prevention Challenge Summit will convene experts in public health, clinical medicine, design, engineering, business, law enforcement and government to facilitate a discussion of pressing challenges and provide critical insight into gun violence. Communities disproportionately affected by gun violence and survivors of gun violence will share stories behind the data, too. Innovators will learn from a surgeon who survived an accidental shooting, a community organiser from Black Lives Matter, a survivor from the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting and a mother from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

Following the Challenge Summit, the Gun Violence Prevention Hack-a-thon will serve as an open-innovation platform to help move the needle by enabling a diverse community to co-create innovations over a 48-hour period.

CAMTech’s approach is solutions-agnostic. Solutions that pass through the CAMTech platform can be hardware, software, system process improvements or business model innovations. By catalyzing the creation of effective, low-cost healthcare solutions, CAMTech aims not only to expand healthcare access and improve delivery of care, but also to generate sustainable and cost-effective solutions to systemic healthcare problems.

Ahead of the Gun Violence Prevention Challenge Summit & Hack-a-thon, over 150 participants have identified and pitched challenges related to gun violence. To improve gun violence prevention during the hack-a-thon, innovators will address communications strategies, policy implementation, storage and access to firearms, education, mental health, school shootings, clinical recommendations, fundraising strategies, research, data collection and community resilience, among others.

Responders need to be more creative in our thinking to mitigate the gun violence epidemic. Very rarely do we know that we can save almost 30,000 lives a year with public health interventions. Our challenge is to act innovatively.

In a polarised political process, it is urgent now more than ever to identify these pressing needs in gun violence prevention, source innovative solutions and accelerate the cycle from idea to impact. Together, we can learn from those affected by gun violence and design solutions to curb the epidemic and save lives.

 

By Sandra Butler, MPH, is the Senior Manager for Global Business Strategy and Nicholas Diamond, MPH, is the Marketing and Communications Manager for the Consortium for Affordable Medical Technologies (CAMTech) at Massachusetts General Hospital Global Health.

Interested in improving gun violence prevention? Apply to CAMTech’s Gun Violence Prevention Challenge Summit & Hack-a-thon by April 6.