Behold, the bindi. How one small dot can stop a deadly nutrient deficiency in its tracks.
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Gates Foundation

Many women and girls in India wear a small dot, called a bindi, on their foreheads.

Images by the Grey Group.


The bindi is traditionally used for religious purposes, to signify marriage, and for a number of other reasons.

But now it's being used to help save lives, thanks to the creative minds at ad agency the Grey Group and the Neelvasant Medical Foundation and Research Centre.

In India alone, 350 million people are at risk for iodine deficiency.

Iodine deficiency is the world's leading cause of brain damage. You don't hear much about iodine, but its role in the human body is incredibly important.

In pregnant women, a lack of iodine can result in cognitive birth defects or stillbirth.

While iodine deficiency is a problem around the globe, parts of rural India suffer greatly because iodized salt, the most widely used method for combatting iodine deficiency, is not readily available.

Supplements exist, but they're expensive.

Knowing this, Grey for Good, the philanthropic arm of Grey Group, developed the Life Saving Dot.

The back of each Life Saving Dot, or Jeevan Bindi, is coated in iodine, which turns it into a small iodine patch.

Over eight hours, each Jeevan Bindi delivers up to 150 micrograms of iodine through the skin.

That's 100% of the recommended amount for women!

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Best of all, a month's supply of Life Saving Dots is affordable!

30 days of dots costs 10 rupees, or 16 cents.

To get the dots where they're needed most, Grey for Good teamed up with the Neelvasant Medical Foundation and Research Centre, a non-governmental organization supporting rural and tribal populations in India.

The foundation identified groups in need and set up medical camps to deliver the innovative supplements.


So far, more than 30,000 women in over 100 villages have received these Life Saving Dots.

While it's not clear yet whether the bindis are entirely effective under every circumstance — for example, it's possible the iodine could evaporate over time when worn in extreme heat or other severe conditions — this is a huge step toward solving a serious global health crisis.

Learn more about Life Saving Dots in this short video:

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less