Cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases as well as diabetes are among today’s top killers, not just in the developed world but also in developing countries. At least one of us, in each family, will be affected. These diseases wreak havoc on the potential of individuals and families, push poor people deeper into poverty, drive national health systems to bankruptcy and stop economic development. Collectively, they will account for an output loss of US$ 47 trillion over the next 20 years.
These killers are advancing, but instead of building personal resilience and nurturing stronger generations, we are getting used to a “new normal” that is marked by obesity, stress and overall lack of personal responsibility. So what can be done to reverse such distributing trends?
Some solutions include encouraging more physical activity, promoting well-being and healthier products, making efficient use of available health services and rewarding healthy behaviours through innovative schemes, especially in the workplace. It is clear that such fundamental, potentially life-saving measures will only happen if all players concerned work together; getting an agreed common vision is not without challenges.
The World Economic Forum’s Healthy Living initiative, however, is working to address health in a comprehensive and holistic way, develop innovative ideas and foster dialogue through its unique convening power platforms.
Over the last year we have witnessed leaders from different industries, governments and civil society engaged in lively and thought-provoking interactions across the world. This has led to the Charter for Healthy Living, which will be launched at this year’s Annual Meeting in Davos. The charter is a blueprint for joint action, identifying areas where stakeholders can work together to achieve maximum impact in the field of health.
Other activities throughout the year have included a workshop with the Mexican government and the World Health Organization (WHO/PAHO), which culminated in developing a toolkit on how we can concretely work together. And, at the World Economic Forum on India, preparations for concrete joint action got off the ground. Meanwhile, a continuous discussion with leading health experts from the private and public sector highlighted the challenges that lie ahead: dealing with unsustainable healthcare systems, unexploited mobile health solutions, the burdens of an alarming ageing population increase, and the role all of us have in asking for a more individual-centred approach to our right to good health.
As we approach the Annual Meeting 2013, being held under the theme “Resilient Dynamism”, the role of personal resilience emerges as key to healthy living. Do you want to know how resilient you are? The World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Well-being and Mental Health will be launching its new Resilience Application – an online tool to help assess one’s personal resilience.
At Davos, we also look forward to cutting-edge debates around the challenges and opportunities of different sectors working together, their key roles and unique responsibilities, to address today’s unsustainable healthcare systems and the role technology can play in leap frogging towards healthier and more resilient lives and economies.
Read more on the Annual Meeting’s Health Agenda.
Eva Jané-Llopis is Director, Head of Chronic Disease and Wellness Initiative, at the World Economic. Vanesa Candeias is a Project Manager and Global Leadership Fellow at the World Economic Forum.
Image: A woman is seen monitoring her blood pressure REUTERS/Mark Blinch