The daughter of former president Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took to the stage at South By Southwest Interactive Tuesday to talk about very serious global issues. However, Chelsea Clinton began her speech stating: “…I’m obsessed with diarrhea” (video below). Of course, her obsession is not to be taken as a flippant or crude remark. Clinton is simply referring to the state of children’s health around the world, which is a grave situation.
While, in the United States, a common illness such as diarrhea is easily overlooked as a short-term “nuisance”, it can mean life or death for the youth of Third World nations. According to Chelsea Clinton 750,000 children worldwide are victims of dehydration due to diarrhea. For her, this notion is “unacceptable.” A main focus of the former First Daughter’s speech included technology’s potential influence on changing world health conditions for the better.
She added that problems such as obesity and agricultural obstacles should be addressed by innovation in a technologically inclined society. For Chelsea Clinton, technology is something that has the power to influence individuals to make changes, yet there is lack of a “solutions hub” – and that is disturbing to her. Clinton implies there should be a collective of development of experts working together, with time and space to test strategies, seeing what works and what doesn’t. Chelsea Clinton’s “obsession” with such illnesses as diarrhea is almost a necessity in order change the upsetting current state of affairs.
The overall issue, as pointed out by Clinton, is not the lack of knowledge required to fix things globally. The problem lies with a lack of “transparency”, saying: “…almost every challenge has been solved by someone somewhere…” Chelsea wants to galvanized the technological innovators around the world, in hopes of being able to compile data and information on previously tested and feasible methods of advancement in health and agriculture.
An example provided by Clinton, referencing a “data gap”, is that necessary statistics are not being recorded, one being that two-thirds of all children born in the Congo are not reported. Such numbers could help with the overall study and impact of implemented technological methods.
Not all of Chelsea Clinton’s speech was about her diarrhea obsession and grave world issues. She went on a bit of a tangent to talk about the lighthearted side of current technology. She took time to poke fun at her presidential family, claiming she taught her “parents how to text. How to charge their phones,” which was apparently a “very mysterious thing for them [at one point]…”
Perhaps one of the most intriguing moments of Chelsea’s time at the podium came when she was asked about running for office. While her traditional answer has always been a clear “no”, it seems now she may not completely discount the thought. Perhaps she may be influenced by the notion that her friends, intelligent and successful, show no interest in political office. This is certainly a change from a few decades back when father Bill was coming up. At that time, the intellectual crowd of the 60s was much more interested in getting into the political game. Perhaps it is Chelsea Clinton’s “obsession” with diarrhea and other world health issues that just might pull her into the realm of government affairs.
By Josh Taub
Community Impact Newspaper