Rolof Mulder

Meet the healthcare innovator making hospitals mobile

In recent years, a number of tragedies have torn countries apart and devastated citizens: civil unrest, health epidemics, terrorism, natural disasters, and more. In times of crisis, infrastructure crumbles, and providing basic sanitation and healthcare present a challenge. How do you deliver a functional, sustainable solution to a region without, say, running water and electricity, let alone doctors and supplies? You shrink it all down.

The idea for a micro-hospital came to Rolof Mulder in 2010 as he was installing a medical unit near a hospital in West Africa. The hospital was expensive, state-of-the-art, and in the middle of nowhere. Just a few months after construction, it was dangerously close to shuttering.

“I thought, ‘Why not build an entire hospital out of shipping containers?’” Mulder explains via Skype from his central Netherlands office.

The 56-year-old Dutch entrepreneur and former nurse set to work designing the first Hospitainer, a mobile medical facility packed into five 20-foot shipping containers—complete with all of the tools, water, and power needed to operate. Outfitted with a surgical table, instruments, medications, and even a postoperative care area, the inaugural Hospitainer was ready to host the kind of lifesaving surgeries to which up to 3 billion people worldwide lack access.

Almost immediately after the prototype’s completion, Haiti was leveled by a catastrophic earthquake that claimed upwards of 100,000 lives. “Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) called me and asked if the hospital was still available,” he says. “I packed it up in two days, and it went on a ship.” After two days of assembly, doctors were able to use the Hospitainer to perform 2,000 surgeries over a 10-month period.

In disaster-stricken and impoverished areas, this kind of rapid response is especially necessary—the ongoing Syrian civil war and refugee emergency present a quintes- sential example. According to Mulder, 80 percent of mortality due to trauma, disease, and complications at birth can be treated with the services offered by Hospitainer’s cost-effective micro-facilities.

In the last five years, Hospitainer mobile units have hosted 8,000 surgeries and treated more than 50,000 individuals across four continents, though Mulder is cautious not to reveal where, as the services they provide can make them targets. The company has also built floating apparatuses, called Hospivessels, which can be deployed in flooded areas. In 2015, a Hospivessel sent to rescue refugees crossing the Mediterranean assisted 2,200 people in a single month.

Mulder is quick to note that without a sound business model, the work would not be possible. “If you put helping people as number one but you don’t have a healthy business model, either growth stops or you’ll fail.” But, he adds, “If you focus only on profit, it’s not fulfilling.”

The company has grown rapidly since 2010, allowing Mulder to branch out to more charitable endeavors. The Hospitainer Foundation will allow Mulder and his business partners to focus on different challenges, specifically emergency obstetric care and medical concerns surrounding sexual violence toward women. Mulder acknowledges that it’s hard work, but says it’s well worth the effort. “When you see thousands of surgeries, tens of thousands of people treated, lives saved, people restored into dignity...that’s very rewarding.”


The global climate change strikes on Friday are said to have been the largest protest for climate change in history. An estimated four million people participated in 2,500 events across 163 countries on all seven continents. That included an estimated 300,000 Australians, but a total of zero were in Hyde Park in Sydney, despite a viral photo that claims otherwise.

Australian Youth Coal Coalition, a pro-coal Facebook page, posted a photo showing trash strewn across a park after what appears to have been a large event. "Look at the mess today's climate protesters left behind in beautiful Hyde Park," the photo was captioned. "So much plastic. So much landfill. So sad." The only problem is, the photo wasn't taken after a climate change protest. It wasn't even taken in Australia.

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via GOOD / YouTube

Last Friday, millions of people in 150 countries across the globe took to the streets to urge world leaders to enact dramatic solutions to combat climate change.

The Climate Strike was inspired, in part, by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old girl from Sweden who has captured worldwide attention for her tireless work to hold lawmakers responsible for the climate crisis.

The strike gave people across the planet the opportunity to make their voices heard before the U.N. General Assembly Climate Summit in New York City on Monday.

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Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

As world leaders meet to discuss new ways to tackle climate change at the U.N. Climate Action Summit, they might miss one very big part of healing nature – nature. In a new short film, youth climate change activist Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot, a writer for the Guardian, talked about how we need to use nature as a solution to climate change.

There's a huge push to curb emissions, but it's not the be all end all of handling climate change; we also need to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. While we don't have technology to do that for us, there is another solution. "There is a magic machine that sucks carbon out of the air, costs very little, and builds itself. It's called a tree," Monboit says in the film. Researchers found that we could get rid of two-thirds of the carbon dioxide that we've emitted during the industrial era just by growing trees. That amounts to 205 billion tons of carbon. Right now, deforestation of tropical forests is responsible for 20% of current greenhouse emissions.

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Climate Action Tracker

In 2016, 196 countries signed the Paris Agreement, pledging to combat climate change by taking action to curb the increase in global temperatures. The Paris Agreement requires countries to report on their emissions and what steps they're taking to implement those plans. Now that the countries are coming together again for the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York City, it's worth taking a look at what kind of progress they've made.

The Climate Action Trackerkeeps tabs on what each country is doing to limit warming, and if they're meeting their self-set goals. Countries are graded based on whether or not their actions would help limit warming to 1.5 degrees C.

According to a recent article from National Geographic, The Gambia, Morocco, and India are at the head of the class. "Even though carbon emissions in The Gambia, Morocco, and India are expected to rise, they'll fall short of exceeding the 1.5-degree Celsius limit," the article reads. Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States, on the other hand, get a big fat F. "Projected emissions in Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the United States are far greater than what it would take to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius."

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Screenshot via (left) Wikimedia Commons (right)

Greta Thunberg has been dubbed the "Joan of Arc of climate change" for good reason. The 16-year-old activist embodies the courage and conviction of the unlikely underdog heroine, as well as the seemingly innate ability to lead a movement.

Thunberg has dedicated her young life to waking up the world to the climate crisis we face and cutting the crap that gets in the way of fixing it. Her speeches are a unique blend of calm rationality and no-holds-barred bluntness. She speaks truth to power, dispassionately and unflinchingly, and it is glorious.

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