Thursday, March 01, 2007

Saving lives with open source

Open Source is not just a way of developing software. It is a philosophy. Innovation through sharing. A community effort. A way to make software affordable, while increasing its quality.

The concept is expanding beyond software. My brother sent me an email from Dar Es Salaam yesterday, highlighting a very interesting project (not on SourceForge, yet...): ASAQ, a revolutionary pharmaceutical product to treat malaria, launched today.

Revolutionary because it is built OSS-style by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) with Sanofi. DNDi is attacking markets neglected by the Big Pharma because they are considered not profitable (Africa, for example). The "code" of the new pill is shared, anybody can take it, improve it and give it back to the community. The license might not have copyleft (although it would be a smart idea...), but the net result is a sub-$1 drug to treat kids in Africa. It will save a lot of lives. That is big news.

Behind this: Bill Gates and its foundation... It is a strange world... but let's hope we can get more of the same.