Mohsin Ali Mustafa

Recently, I & a colleague were part of a phone call at Five Health that left us in a dilemma. We were speaking to an organization that delivers healthcare at scale in many parts of the world. This organization could possibly be a competitor for us as well.

We have developed a unique way of delivering a primary care intervention in schools that makes the prevention of disease financially sustainable(even profitable). Usually, prevention programs are seen as grant-funded ventures with a limited scope of internal sustainability, however, we have cracked a part of that code. Naturally, organizations that operate at scale are curious to know how this works.

We were engaged in a cross-country phone call to discuss programmatic aspects of it. During the course of the phone call, a concern was, how much sharing is too much. By sharing an idea too openly we lose the competitive advantage and the said organization has the ability to roll the idea out in multiple geographies with the backing of a bigger brand name.

After concluding the phone call, we pondered, the best-case scenario would be we collaborate and help the said organization roll this venture out with full acknowledgement & compensation for our efforts. The worst case is that this idea gets rolled out with no acknowledgement. Both cases are possible and plausible.

We pondered further, why is the worst case really a worst-case. We are in the business of providing quality primary care to children. If we can enable someone else to do it faster and in a more efficient way, then is that really that bad of an outcome? If by sharing our idea openly and freely and enabling someone else to execute, isn’t it worth it?

Our vision for Five Health is to “ Reimagine primary care for a healthy world” to work towards a vision like that, one has to let go of self and be selfless. I have a firm belief that when you open your heart to the world, the world sets a bigger stage up for you. There are tens of thousands of organizations out there doing thousands of cool things. How many end up changing the world?

When Albert Salk, the founder of the polio vaccine did not patent it so that it could reach millions right away he changed the world. When Fleming did not patent penicillin, it enabled a reach to millions right away and he changed the world. To change the world you have to do things and make moral choices that are unconventional by contemporary wisdom.

We resolved our moral dilemma by concluding that we will share the nuances of our program without an expectation of reward. The reward for us is much bigger. The reward is healthy children in whatever corner of the world our idea can reach and it does not matter if we get an acknowledgement for it or not.

A poem by Iqbal drives our philosophy home

Sitaron Se Agay Jahan Aur Bhi Hain
Abhi Ishq Ke Imtihan Aur Bhi Hain

Other worlds exist beyond the stars —
More tests of love are still to come.

Tehi, Zindagi Se Nahin Ye Fazaen
Yahan Saikron Karwan Aur Bhi Hain

This vast space does not lack life —
Hundreds of other caravans are here.

Qanaat Na Kar Alam-e-Rang-o-Bu Par
Chaman Aur Bhi Ashiyan Aur Bhi Hain

Do not be content with the world of color and smell,
Other gardens there are, other nests, too.

Agar Kho Gya Ek Nasheeman To Kya Gham
Maqamat-e-Aah-o-Faghan Aur Bhi Hain

What is the worry if one nest is lost?
There are other places to sigh and cry for!

Tu Shaheen Hai, Parwaz Hai Kaam Tera
Tere Samne Asman Aur Bhi Hain

You are an eagle, flight is your vocation:
You have other skies stretching out before you.

Issi Roz-o-Shab Mein Ulajh Kar Na Reh Ja
Ke Tere Zaman-o-Makan Aur Bhi Hain

Do not let mere day and night ensnare you,
Other times and places belong to you.

Gye Din Ke Tanha Tha Main Anjuman Mein
Yahan Ab Mere Raazdaan Aur Bhi Hain

Gone are the days when I was alone in company —
Many here are my confidants now.




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