WGS 2019: First Global Health Forum Calls for Focus on Prevention

Sunday 10 February 2019
Dubai - MENA Herald:

“We are witnessing a key transformation from physician-driven to patient-centered care. We are also optimizing population health outcomes through a focus on preventative care,” His Excellency Abdulrahman bin Mohammed Al Owais, UAE Minister of Health and Prevention, said today as he launched the first Global Health Forum, held in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) at the seventh edition of the World Government Summit (WGS 2019) in Dubai.

Al Owais added: “The Ministry of Health and Prevention is aligned with the government direction to focus on a preventative strategy. In addition to advancing health systems, we need to be prepared for future global health threats.”

He acknowledged the role of technology as a disruptor in the healthcare sector and emphasized the importance of drawing learnings from global epidemics of the past to build a robust prevention-focused strategy for the future.

The first-ever Global Health Forum brought together healthcare experts to discuss government preparedness for the evolving healthcare landscape, the role of new techniques such as cellular therapeutics in addressing global health threats, and infections of the future.

Speaking during the “Future Lens of Healthcare” session that directly followed His Excellency’s remarks, Dr Shafi Ahmed, Chairman & Co-Founder of the Global Innovation & New Technologies Conference in London, said the healthcare sector will be revolutionized by virtual reality.

“We need to alter our minds when thinking of healthcare. The way technology is becoming a part of healthcare is encouraging and we now need to leverage this to bring the global healthcare market closer. Human interaction makes healthcare unaffordable. With technology we can minimize the strain on health spending.

“Virtual reality and 3D printing are introducing new ways in which healthcare functions. Virtual healthcare that involves consultations via video or calls can provide diagnosis and possible medication options based on a patient’s history and symptoms. This brings healthcare closer by taking the doctor to a patient’s home, it saves time and may cost less money,” he said.

In his presentation on the Future Lens of Healthcare, Dr Shafi spoke about innovation in healthcare and how to reimagine healthcare. Making medicine more accessible and affordable should be a part of global agendas. Convergence of technologies like artificial intelligence, virtual reality and blockchain are causing a disruption in global healthcare practices.

A key topic of the Forum was Disease X – the concept pandemic that the WHO has identified as the next big global threat to public health in 2018. Every year, the Geneva-based organization tasked with monitoring and safeguarding global health highlights serious and potential high-risk diseases that might impact the human population. Disease X is a hypothetical epidemic caused by a pathogen currently unknown but that will affect humans.

Every year, WHO, the Geneva-based organization tasked with monitoring and safeguarding global health, highlights serious and potential high-risk diseases that might impact the human population. In 2018, the organization declared Disease X as the next big threat – one that could emerge from a variety of sources and strike at any time.

In recent memory, over 11,000 fatalities were reported from the Ebola outbreak between 2014 and 2016, while the HIV-AIDS pandemic accounted for 36 million lives at its height towards the end of the 1980s. And in 1968, the influenza pandemic killed an estimated one million people. The size and scale of breakouts are often unpredictable, therefore the need to prepare for any eventuality in the case of a pandemic is paramount in the healthcare industry.

Health ministers, scientists, healthcare policy makers from across the region, as well as representatives from large private sector healthcare entities are among the attendees at the Forum’s inaugural edition.

The three-day World Government Summit 2019 runs until February 12 at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai. The landmark event has convened more than 4,000 participants from 140 countries, including heads of state and governments, as well as top-tier representatives of 30 international organizations.

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