Quality Healthcare Is At The Core of a Thriving Society

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  • Published: January 12, 2015
Egbert Schillings, CEO, World Innovation Summit for Health, explains how a global community created by the QF initiative is committed to creating a better world through collaboration and fresh thinking.
Egbert Schillings, CEO, World Innovation Summit for Health
The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being. These are the words of the World Health Organization constitution; and helping to achieve this aim is the goal of the Qatar Foundation (QF) initiative, the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH).

Global healthcare is facing a perfect storm of the threat posed by non-communicable diseases – cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease, cancer, diabetes – and the increasing costs of treating them, at a time when many countries face significant financial challenges. Chronic conditions are becoming more prevalent; costs are increasing; and traditional healthcare models are failing. The only way to emerge from this storm is through innovation. This is the cause that WISH is committed to.

Healthcare is one of the great success stories of the last 100 years, with more people globally living longer, healthier, and more productive lives. Much of this success is due to innovation in public health, medicine, hygiene, nutrition, and technology. Healthcare innovation involves a range of activities around the development, uptake, and adoption of new approaches that generate value in terms of quality administrative efficiency, the patient experience, and patient outcomes. Often, when people think of innovation in healthcare, there is a tendency to focus on medicines and devices. The reality is that these alone will not bring about the fundamental change in healthcare that we need. The greatest unrealized potential for global healthcare can often be found in how services are financed, organized, and delivered, rather than gadgets and drugs. It is in the realm of healthcare policy where partnerships across multiple sectors need to be forged in order to advance the agenda of human health. WISH is the first, and the foremost, global community of people dedicated to bringing together both technology and policy under the banner
of innovation.

More than 1,000 members of our global community will come together from 17-18 February 2015 to attend our second Summit, at Qatar National Convention Centre. However, WISH is not a conference. The Summit itself is simply the most visible manifestation of what WISH does during the remaining 363 days of the year: working with the greatest minds in global healthcare, to identify, codify, and spread the best ideas from around the world, translating them into policies that will make a genuine and lasting difference.

We are a community of the impatient; impatient with the slow pace of progress, but excited by the opportunities for meaningful global collaboration in healthcare. Where WISH is unique is that no other forum unites stakeholders from as many different countries and diverse sectors – policymakers, healthcare providers, researchers, academics, and industry leaders.

To be successful, though, WISH needs to create genuine impact and must be relevant, at a local, regional, and global level. One of my most satisfying experiences so far has been our work with local healthcare leaders, the providers, academic researchers, and the Supreme Council of Health (SCH). We are absolutely delighted with their enthusiastic support and desire to use WISH as a resource to provide the best care for the population they serve here in Qatar.

The commitment of WISH to delivering tangible benefits for the people of Qatar, and to contributing to the vision and mission of QF, is demonstrated in many forms. Our Young Innovators platform champions the next generation who will lead healthcare into the future; a Qatari stakeholder is embedded in the research team for each of WISH 2015’s seven research forums, shaping the content from a local perspective and ensuring that Qatar benefits first from the insights and recommendations coming out of the research. We have collaborated with SCH to promote the Qatar Mental Health Strategy, and to support the upcoming Qatar Week for Patient Safety. The creation of the WISH Implementation Taskforce allows healthcare providers, policymakers, and partners to review WISH’s innovations and policy recommendations, ensuring they are translated to Qatar’s population in the most relevant and effective way. And WISH’s commitment to relevance at a local level is the reason why WISH 2015 will host a panel on Islamic Bioethics and Genetics, making the Summit a showcase for an issue of huge importance to Qatar, from which the benefit will spread beyond the country and the region.

Access to quality healthcare, and quality education, are at the core of any thriving society. The brilliance of the vision of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation and Founder of WISH, is to make a difference in these two pivotal, but complex, areas. WISH is an enterprise that has no equal anywhere in the world, and I believe that only an initiative of QF could attain that status.

Our goal is to be able to say that global healthcare improved because WISH exists; that WISH brought about change that would otherwise not have happened; that a policy innovation was adopted because those who embraced it learned about it through our research. If we can say this, and if someone, somewhere, is making a difference in healthcare because of WISH, then we can say that we have succeeded in our goals. But, as one very famous innovator put it so well: “Vision without execution is hallucination”. The WISH team, and its community of collaborators, are committed to making the vision of better global and local health a reality. We look forward to many more joining us in this endeavor.