Health and Healthcare Systems

Health funders unite to support climate and disease research, plus other top health stories

Martin Jasyk, scientific assistant at Berlin's forensic medicine department, holds a drug sample for purity testing in Berlin, Germany.

Global attention to health has faltered since COVID-19, according to experts. Image: Reuters/Nadja Wohlleben

Shyam Bishen
Head, Centre for Health and Healthcare; Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum
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This article is part of: Centre for Health and Healthcare
  • This global round-up brings you health stories from the past fortnight.
  • Top health news: Health heavyweights form new partnership; WHO report highlights key health advances; UK doctors trial first "personalized" skin cancer vaccine.

1. Health funders unite to support climate and disease research

Three of the globe’s biggest health organizations have joined forces to address the impacts of climate change, malnutrition and infectious diseases, and antimicrobial resistance.

The $300 million partnership between the Novo Nordisk Foundation, Wellcome and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation aims to find affordable solutions for people in low- and middle-income countries.

A key aim of the project is stated as bridging often isolated areas of research – such as obesity being a risk factor for the severity of some infectious diseases or the link between extreme weather, food insecurity and disease.

The partners emphasized the importance of the initiative following the waning global attention to health after COVID-19, and called for private, philanthropic and public partners to join them.

2. WHO report highlights ‘notable health achievements’

World health is advancing in several key areas, according to a new data from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO’s latest results report – which it describes as its most comprehensive to date ­– shows progress towards targets in areas including healthier populations, universal health coverage, and protection from health emergencies.

It also lists successes including the world’s first malaria vaccine, the elimination of at least one neglected tropical disease in 14 countries and the decline of tobacco use in 150 countries.

Chart showing falling tobacco use by age group
Tobacco use is falling across the globe. Image: WHO/Statista

However, the report warns that the world is still far from reaching health targets outlined in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. “With concrete and concerted action to accelerate progress, we could still achieve a substantial subset of them,” WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

3. News in brief: Health stories from around the world

UK doctors are trialling the world’s first personalized skin cancer vaccine. The mRNA vaccine – which uses the same technology as some COVID-19 shots – is designed to suit the individual patient and help their immune system recognize and eliminate cells with melanoma.

Women may live longer than men, but they experience more years in poor health, according to new research. The study, published in The Lancet, found that women had a higher burden of “morbidity-driven conditions”, including low back pain, depressive illness and headache disorders.

A new first-of-its-kind study has found that while a person’s genetics can mean a 21% greater risk of early death, a healthy lifestyle could offset this by more than 60% and add another five years to a person’s life.

A new study suggests that olive oil could lower the risk of dying from dementia. The research, by Harvard scientists and published in the journal JAMA Network Open, linked around half a tablespoon of olive oil eaten daily to a 28% lower risk of dementia-related death.

An experimental gene therapy has restored some vision in patients with inherited blindness. The trial used CRISPR gene editing and doctors said the results provided “proof of concept” that these technologies could be used to treat inherited retinal disorders.


What is the World Economic Forum doing to improve healthcare systems?

4. More on health from our blog

In India, mental health has often been overshadowed by other pressing healthcare concerns. But, as this article examines, philanthropy is empowering the country’s mental health sector to help address the crisis.

Vaccine programmes save millions of lives each year and have been key to helping the world deal with viruses including smallpox and COVID-19. This piece looks at 50 years of immunization progress.

People across the globe are living longer, which is placing increased demand on healthcare systems. Community-based long-term care could form part of the solution.

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Why health ministers must be at the forefront of global healthcare processes

Shyam Bishen

May 28, 2024

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