Medical science and technology continue to make great strides in improving healthcare, treating illnesses, preventing communicable diseases and prolonging life. Important large corporations now play a larger role in this field by producing healthier foods. However, flashy new drugs and medical techniques and improved foods are truly, in this case, not panaceas.
Today, only 20% of health outcomes depend on the health sector, says Francis S. Collins, Director, National Institutes of Health. Imagine how strained the medical establishment will become as the world population expands to 9.7 billion by 2050. What this means in practice is that our health does, and will, depend heavily on each and every one of us. This is not a cop-out; this actually puts care in the hands of the people who are able to make an enormous impact on individual health.
The medicine of the future will be based on a National Institutes of Health concept which stresses the importance of prevention, participation, personalization and prediction, Said Olivier Brandicourt, Chief Executive Officer, Sanofi. Prevention can start with eating a healthy diet and getting exercise, both of which help to develop a strong immune system that is the “best tool for preventing and tackling infections”, he added.
Complementary efforts are required to address health challenges. While individuals take responsibility for their care, government and business will bring better products and policies to the table, said Paul Bulcke, Chief Executive Officer, Nestlé.
Governments can promote the building of bicycle paths and holding stand-up meetings and press restaurants, caterers and supermarkets to produce healthier food, said Edith Schippers, Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport of the Netherlands. Health issues must be considered in all policy decisions, including how buildings are designed, she added. Education about hygiene and nutrition is fundamental, and the tech industry is doing its part. For example, new games make brushing teeth fun for kids and give them big health benefits.
Bringing games and role modelling to communities is important for promoting better health, said Frans van Houten, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, Royal Philips. In the United States, healthcare professionals act as health coaches in neighbourhoods. With more funding, this model could be expanded to reach more people, he added.
Large corporations are well-placed to support better health. Businesses can make decisions that change available products so that consumers can make better choices. Three cases were described by Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, Chief Executive Officer and President, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Disney entertainment empire voluntarily changed the meals it serves for children by reducing calories, sugar content and sodium and found that the number of meals sold remained the same.
The CVS pharmacy chain stopped selling tobacco products in 2014. While the amount of revenues from stores dropped, the company’s stock price rose. A group of 16 large beverage and food-producing corporations, including PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and Nestlé, decided to remove empty calories that provide no nutritional value from the food chain. In 18 months, they eliminated more than 6 trillion unnecessary calories from their beverage and food products.
Good morning, and welcome to the fourth and final day of our Annual Meeting in Davos.
Among today's sessions, we have The Global Economic Outlook with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde and British Finance Minister George Osborne. Then a little later we're looking at the top science trends for 2016, and what we can do to preseve our humanity in an age of technology.
While you wait for today's sessions to begin, why not look back at what happened yesterday.
Francis S. Collins
Frans van Houten