Science has to take responsibility! Our common future is already determined by research and by new technologies emerging from new knowledge, and this process continues to gain speed. We have to make sure that today's amazing developments are used to benefit all of humankind. This is what people expect from the progress. Health and wellbeing is what people are most concerned about. Health may be a human right but when it comes to health, the world is in a worrisome state despite all the great progress, which we have seen in the past years. Infectious diseases and pandemic preparedness remain on the world agenda but the chief causes of death are now shifting dramatically to non-communicable diseases. The burden of disease of e.g., obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and mental health are increasing in all countries around the globe—rich and poor. In addition food and nutrition, pollution, climate change, political instability in many regions, economic crisis, migration, and flight are all contributing factors in major health issues. Meanwhile, the world's population continues to grow and to age. The global burden of disease remains, and is even on the rise in some areas. Equity remains a challenge. This may not be completely new but it is urgent for us to act. Climate is just one example that action is needed—now! We are not making good use of our scientific and technological possibilities and we are not living up to the expectations of the generations of our children and grandchildren.
Ever since the first World Health Summit on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the Charité–Universitätsmedizin Berlin, we have been working toward one goal: improving health for everyone on the planet. We have to respond to the most important global health challenges, and must find fast and efficient ways to bring medical advances to the places where people are in need. But each of us can do very little alone. That's why from the beginning, the World Health Summit has brought together stakeholders and decision-makers from every sector, from all over the world. By combining forces from academia, the private sector, industry, civil society, and politics, we have been able to achieve change and improve health worldwide. And there are now some very promising leads on how we can do even more.
The “M8 Alliance” of 25 Academic Health Centers and Universities around the globe and the 130 Academies of Medicine and Sciences in the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) provide a unique think tank for the World Health Summit program in academic freedom. We try to help setting the global health agenda including the G7/G20 Summits and stimulating the building up of global health structures, careers and programs in institutions and nations—and inviting politics, industry, and civil society to cooperate in a transparent way.
A milestone—and an encouraging sign—is the prominent position that health topics have assumed on the agendas of the G7 and G20 meetings. From the very beginning, the World Health Summit has enjoyed support from the highest level of politics, with ongoing high patronage from the Chancellor of Germany, the President of the French Republic and the President of the European Commission.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Agenda 2030 provide the framework for a holistic health approach in every area of policymaking. We do believe that such a holistic approach to health, is frequently discussed but is still largely neglected by too many people with responsibility and by too many institutions and urgently needs strengthening. In fact, the fragmentation of approaches, disciplines, particular interest groups and ideologies is obvious in science as well as in politics, private sector, and civil society. The challenge of the future is to cope with complexity. Global Health is one of the most complex issues—it would be a great example to develop a comprehensive holistic and successful model fitting for the great variety of good intentions and fragmented efforts.
It is encouraging to see important NGOs, private foundations and other key organizations playing an increasingly supportive and coordinated role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in tandem with the United Nations and the World Health Organization. We need efforts that are transdisciplinary, science-based, cross-sectoral, and concerted. They are vital to set the global health agenda for the years to come. Participants from all over the world bring different views, experiences, and priorities. They aren't only welcome—they're the very essence of the World Health Summit vision, mission and philosophy.