Posted on February 18, 2015

A roadmap to a healthier world was unveiled today in Doha as more than 1000 world leaders, policy makers and healthcare experts gathered at the QNCC to discuss new and ground-breaking solutions to the most urgent global health challenges at the second World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), an initiative of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF). With the spread of Ebola, the continuing rise in heart disease, the advancing wave of diabetes, the growing cost of cancer care, the growth of mental illness; there has never been a more pressing time to address these issues and identify solutions for generations to come.

Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation and Founder of WISH, addressed attending dignitaries and delegates with a welcome speech that praised the research teams for their commitment to uncovering vital new solutions to some of the world’s biggest health crises. Her Highness Sheikha Moza said: “The WISH conference helps change our global health reality towards achieving a greater ambition of providing quality health coverage for all. Healthcare and healthcare access go to the heart of human rights. We cannot overcome our healthcare challenges unless we begin to invest in solutions that link health and education, as they are intrinsically connected.  Innovation in education leads us to innovation in health. It is our wish to promote the causes of both access to basic primary education and universal health coverage.”

Following the welcome speech, delegates from over 80 different countries were invited to attend five forums that each unveiled new research and shared workable solutions to some of the world’s greatest healthcare threats;

DEMENTIA - A call to action: the global response to dementia through policy innovation

Dementia has severe effects on the quality of life of individuals and causes tremendous strain on both caregivers and healthcare systems. The costs of providing dementia care are substantial - and unsustainable. There is therefore an increasing and urgent need to identify and disseminate innovative and cost-effective approaches to early diagnosis and disease management. The World Dementia Council and other organizations have called for the development of a cure or disease-modifying therapy by 2025.


Through a series of ten key policy recommendations for governments to consider, the report outlines what can be done now to reduce the burden caused by dementia today and in the future. These recommendations aim to achieve improved outcomes for individuals living with dementia, for economies struggling to pay for the costs of care, and for societies facing the increasing prevalence and burden of dementia.

The recommendations can be summarized as follows: develop a plan to address dementia nationally; increase awareness of dementia; expand healthy living to include brain health; improve the evidence base for dementia; improve dementia care; strengthen integrated and co-ordinated health and social care systems; institute and fund longitudinal studies; reduce barriers to drug development; commit government investment of at least one percent of a country’s cost of care; and facilitate innovative finance mechanisms.

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MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING IN CHILDREN - Healthy young minds: transforming the mental health of children

Many countries now measure adult life satisfaction as a routine statistic and, increasingly, people feel that the success of a society cannot be judged mainly by its level of wealth but by how satisfied people are with their lives. It is therefore vital that the global issue of children’s poor mental health is tackled now.


The report focuses on ten specific evidence-based action points that can be done in every country and would bring great benefit. These action points, documented in detail in the report, stem from three key principles:

  • Early intervention to support families
  • Parity of treatment between mental and physical health within the healthcare system
  • Children’s wellbeing being included as a major objective for schools

The report argues that the investment required to implement the recommendations could revolutionize the lives of our children, whilst also producing major economic benefits to society. It also challenges policymakers and political establishments to prioritize this issue and implement major changes worldwide.

DIABETES - Rising to the challenge: preventing and managing type 2 diabetes

Leading organizations such as the World Health Organization, the United Nations General Assembly and the World Economic Forum recognize diabetes as a global problem for policymakers today. The challenge posed by diabetes is universal - it affects both developing and developed countries. Already 80 percent of the world’s diabetic population lives in countries where only 20 percent of the global budget for healthcare is spent. But while shocking statistics give us a clear picture of the scale and urgency of the problem, how to tackle the issue is not so straightforward. This WISH Forum report argues that diabetes lacks the public or political priority that it should have proportional to its health and social impact.

The report’s focus is therefore on proposing actionable recommendations which enable policymakers to improve disease management, increase effective surveillance and implement prevention strategies, based on innovative approaches from around the world.


Both the health and economic consequences of diabetes are often underestimated and implementing changes to tackle the global issue of type 2 diabetes is a complex area. The report considers the multiple interventions needed from a range of government departments and advocacy groups to tackle the issue – from treatment and screening, to prevention via both soft ‘nudges’ and tough legislation.

The Forum report identifies three key policy goals for policymakers, summarized as follows: improve disease management for people with diabetes to reduce complication rates; establish effective surveillance to identify and support those at risk of type 2 diabetes; and deliver a range of interventions to help create an environment focused on prevention.  The report concludes with four steps to help address the diabetes challenge based on the innovative practices considered by the Forum Panel.

PATIENT SAFETY - Transforming patient safety: a sector-wide systems approach

The Forum report highlights how utilising ideas from other safety-conscious industries can be used to improve patient safety within healthcare.


There is a need for a systematic, sector-wide approach to patient safety, underpinned by sound principles in safety science. To help drive change and improvements in patient safety, the Forum report identifies five system-level gaps to be addressed. These can be briefly summarized as: a holistic sector-wide approach; system integrators; risk assessment and performance reporting; patient safety regulation and transdisciplinary science for safety. The global healthcare community needs to acknowledge these gaps and develop a plan (within a systems context) to address each issue.

Healthcare leaders from over 80 countries 3 [].jpgUNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE - Delivering universal health coverage: a guide for policymakers

Ensuring access to effective, quality health services, without the fear of financial hardship, is a basic human right. There is a mounting body of evidence that shows that UHC can deliver substantial benefits - for individuals, for countries and for politicians. However, designing and implementing an approach to achieving UHC is no simple task – there are complex trade-offs and practical challenges, as well as the need for political commitment. The report looks at the available evidence on these topics, in particular:

  • What population groups and services to cover
  • How to pay for UHC
  • How to implement UHC.


Designing and implementing a UHC strategy cannot be seen as a one-size-fits-all process - each country will need to consider its population’s individual health needs, as well as the level of economic development and the political environment. However, the review of available research evidence has identified some key strategic issues where a consensus is emerging on approaches to UHC that are more likely to be effective than others:

  • Countries should focus first on achieving full population coverage of an affordable package of services
  • Publicly governed, mandatory financing mechanisms (general taxation and social health insurance contributions) are the best way to pay for UHC
  • Sustained political commitment from the highest level of government, including the head of state, is essential in implementing successful UHC reforms.

This WISH report aims to keep UHC at the top of the global health agenda and stimulate further informed debate and action across the globe. WISH supports the aims and ambitions of Qatar Foundation and reinforces Qatar’s role as an emerging centre for healthcare innovation. Qatar has been at the forefront of healthcare reform in the region with its introduction of a visionary national health strategy. As part of its mission, Qatar Foundation has launched a number of initiatives in healthcare – from scientific research in medicine to maternal health and clinical care.

Engineer Saad Al Muhannadi, President of Qatar Foundation, said: “WISH is a leading influence in global healthcare and I am very proud of the indispensable contribution it is making to healthcare systems worldwide. By bringing the world's leading innovators to Doha, WISH is creating a truly unique opportunity for unprecedented collaboration, promoting innovations that will form the basis of the healthcare systems of the future. For me, it is one of the best examples of how Qatar Foundation's healthcare initiatives create real benefits for people both here in Qatar, and in countries around the globe.”

This year, WISH is hosting two special panels; one that will take place on Genomics, looking at the future of personalised medicine and the ethical dilemmas this new frontier in healthcare could bring; and one taking place on Newborn and Maternal Health hosted alongside The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Harvard University and Save the Children. WISH also showcased some of the newest and most ground-breaking health innovations from around the world including virtual surgery, 3D-printed prosthetics and mobile apps.

The Right Honourable Professor the Lord Darzi of Denham, Executive Chair of WISH, said: “In the face of growing health concerns, reducing budgets and increasingly fluid global borders we face a crossroads in world health that presents a unique dilemma for us all. We must act urgently to share our experiences, combine our insights and progress solutions together. Only through collaboration can we be sure to find the right answers and only with innovation can we deliver the outcomes needed. WISH provides the platform for such action and I am proud to be welcoming the world’s experts to Doha today to create a healthier future for all.”

To learn more about WISH, view the panels and download the reports, please visit