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Celebration of health comes to Chapel Hill

About 50 people gathered at the Varsity Theater Monday to watch a live webcast celebrating and planning for improvements in public health.

The TEDxChapelHill event and 81 other events in 40 countries showed TEDxChange, which marked the 10-year anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations’ goals for developing nations.

“There’s never been an event quite like this ever held in the world,” curator Chris Anderson said in the webcast.

TED is a non-profit group that began as a conference tasked with bringing together innovators from technology, entertainment and design fields.

The organization has since branched into TEDx events, locally organized meetings designed to spark discussion and spread ideas.

Melinda Gates, co-chairwoman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said in the webcast her experiences in developing nations have made her optimistic for world health.

“I want to help dispel the myth that investments in health and development have not made any progress or big impact,” Gates said. “We’ve made more progress in the last 10 years than any other period in history combined.”

Gates said Coca-Cola Co.’s global marketing strategies provide a model for progress in public health. The company has partnered with the foundation on projects in the past.

She advocated the company’s use of marketing techniques, real-time data in decision making and working with local entrepreneurs who understand their communities.

The webcast’s four speakers previously decided not to coordinate topics.

“Each of the speakers brought home that there’s something that you as an individual can do to make a difference,” said IntraHealth International Inc. director Laura Hoemeke.

IntraHealth, which was founded in 1979 and has worked in over 90 countries, hosted the event.

The organization, which works to ensure access to informed health providers, grew out of a UNC School of Medicine program and officially split off from the college in 2003.

“We originally thought we’d just do a viewing party at our office,” said event organizer Heather LaGarde.

“As we thought more about the center that North Carolina is for global health, we thought it would be fun to make it bigger and invite more people in.”

LaGarde said she hopes to host other TEDxChapelHill events and see University involvement.

“There’s no reason UNC students couldn’t be world-changers.”

Chapel Hill resident Janet Bratter came to the event looking for such an opportunity.

“As a musician, a writer and an inventor, I have some things that I would like to be able to get to these people who have the money and power to do something,” Bratter said.

Watch the webcast online at

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