Partnership for Health System Sustainability and Resilience

In collaboration with London School of Economics and AstraZeneca

PHSSR summit

The first virtual PHSSR Summit (15-19 March 2021), brought together over 50 leading experts from these eight countries and from bodies such as the OECD, the World Health Organization, the World Heart Federation, the International Society of Nephrology, to discuss the future of health in a post COVID-19 world. It included over 1200 registrants from over 65 countries.


Building Crisis-Resistant Healthcare Systems in a Post-COVID World

On 25 January, 2021 AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot joined a panel discussion alongside other leaders on ‘Building Crisis-Resistant Healthcare Systems in a Post-COVID World’ on the opening day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) ‘Davos Agenda’ meeting.

With healthcare systems facing not only shocks such as pandemics, conflict, and natural disasters, but also chronic structural and governance challenges, changes to policies, practices and partnerships are needed to radically improve health system effectiveness and resilience.

The session provided a platform to review the learnings through COVID-19, underline the need to create more shock-resistant systems post-pandemic, and highlighted the Partnership for Health System Sustainability and Resilience, co-founded by the WEF, London School of Economics and AstraZeneca to address some of these issues.

“If we think about healthcare systems in the future and how to be better prepared, the first thing to do is to invest in prevention, early detection and early treatment.”

— Pascal Soriot

While there is a general understanding that preventing disease is better than treating it, the reality is that in OECD countries today only 3% of total healthcare expenditure is focused on prevention. An even smaller percentage (0.6%) is spent on immunisation and early detection. A specific example of this is playing out in therapy areas such as Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), where almost 80% of cases are not diagnosed early enough to prevent high treatment costs, or too late to improve patient outcomes and quality of life. Prevention – including through early diagnosis – was a key point iterated by panelist Catharina Boehme, CEO of Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics.

There is also a need to optimise where healthcare is delivered and decrease over-reliance on hospitals. This was also underscored by Kevin Washington, CEO of YMCA USA, who spoke of driving “stronger connections between clinics and communities”.

Digital innovation is a key driver here helping shift care to outpatient services, such as primary care, and facilitating the care of patients outside of hospitals. AstraZeneca has been able to leverage digital tools to help patients be treated outside hospitals – for example to enable care delivery to patients with chronic conditions such as asthma and cancer, who were unable to or perhaps reluctant to visit hospitals during the pandemic.

We need a shift in mindset and must consider health as a strategic asset to be invested in - as opposed to a cost to try to minimise.”

—Pascal Soriot

Health as an asset will ultimately need to be driven by a shift in mindset.
Historically, global efforts have gone into keeping down the cost of healthcare when in fact, the financial burden of disease can have catastrophic costs to the global economy. It will be important for the international health community and governments around the world to re-envision health as an asset that is invested in for the long-term.

Finally, collaboration is fundamental. As Pascal Soriot outlined, it is a fundamental part of AstraZeneca’s DNA and at the heart of the company’s pandemic response. For example, AstraZeneca’s partnership with The University of Oxford has enabled the delivery of a vaccine for COVID-19 in record time, and there are many other examples from across the sector. It is important to remember that the efforts of the life sciences sector to develop multiple vaccines and manufacture them at scale has never been done before, and this huge undertaking has only been possible thanks to collaboration, which should be capitalised on going forward. Equity is also driven through collaboration and this is central to AstraZeneca’s approach to its COVID-19 vaccine programme: enabling broad, equitable and timely access to as many countries around the world as possible.


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