Despite the best intentions and much toil and sweat, public health efforts sometimes fall short of their aims—or take too long to show results. Jack Rowe breaks it down to the quantity vs. quality argument. What’s needed? More quality. As an undergraduate, Rowe spent several summers in Nicaragua volunteering with a local humanitarian organization. He delivered medical care to rural villages in the northwest portion of the country. He also helped with construction of homes and schools, farming, microfinance projects and well-drilling. In his many interactions with people and groups, he experienced equal parts elation and frustration. Several development and humanitarian organizations, he says, had overlapping and, in some cases, competing interests. Some had no means to quantifiably evaluate the effects of their interventions to identify the most effective. “The lack of communication and efficiency between organizations and the public sector was often readily apparent, often leading to a shortage of organizational efficiency in areas where the need was greatest or where there were gaps in care,” he says. Rowe often saw groups working independently to solve a similar problem. As a result, many would try to reinvent the wheel.
Since his time in Nicaragua, Rowe has worked in a variety of health care settings across multiple continents. He conducted immunological research for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga., helped to build research infrastructure at a hospital in Botswana and collaborated with community health care workers in the Dominican Republic. With the knowledge he gains at the Bloomberg School, Rowe wants to improve how public health resources are implemented, replicate successful interventions on a global basis and, when interventions fail, find innovative new ones to take their place.
Attending Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital; David Torchiana Fellow in Health Policy and Management, Massachusetts General Physicians Organization