World Health Summit Views

Meet the World Health Summit experts: Members of the WHS Council and the M8 Alliance leadership share their expertise on key questions in global health. Read insights, inspiring ideas, and forward-thinking opinions from thought leaders in global health.
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"Raise your eyes and realize the task of this generation: Working together globally to make healthy life possible on planet Earth."
Axel R. Pries
World Health Summit President

What do you see as the most important challenges in global health?

Health is a universal right for everyone. However, Universal Health Coverage will only be achieved, if the world gives priority to achieving health of people and the environment over national or regional interests and ideologies. Increasing tensions, wars and fights along national and religious divides as well as an increasing inequality are the main obstacles for a healthier life on a healthy planet.

What is your demand to policymakers and the international community?

All stakeholders in societies and states have to live up to their responsibility. It is us and it is now to take decisions which will define whether there is a good future for our children and mankind. Look beyond your private, local and national interests – raise your eyes and realize the task of this generation: Working together globally to make healthy life possible on planet Earth.    

How can Health for All be achieved?

We need to increase trust in our common achievements, to develop trustworthy structures supporting global health and to strengthen international cooperation. Health of the people and of the planet requires global consorted action as well as respect of diversity: challenges are global but the answers and solutions need to be local and adapted to the prevailing conditions, background and traditions.

What role can the World Health Summit play?

The World Health Summit generates the platform for an exchange between people active in global health, from all sectors of society including politics and from all regions of the world. Thus, it is a lab for trans-sectorial and international teamwork. In this atmosphere, trust is generated and solutions for global heath challenges are developed.

Your greatest wish? 

That we all find a way to adapt our very old psychological reflexes and stereotypes to the challenges of an increasing global world – we are only one vulnerable tribe on a small planet.

"Universal preparedness for health also emphasizes the importance of addressing the governance dysfunctions that were so blatantly exposed during the pandemic."
Ole Petter Ottersen
University of Oslo
WHS Council Member

The lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic tell us that we should join forces and strive for universal preparedness for health. This means that we must embark on a comprehensive approach to ensure that all countries, communities, and individuals are ready to respond effectively to health emergencies, whether they are caused by infectious disease outbreaks, natural disasters, or other public health threats. It involves strengthening health systems, building capacity for early detection and response to emerging threats, promoting access to essential medicines and vaccines, and improving communication and coordination among different stakeholders involved in emergency preparedness and response. Universal preparedness for health also emphasizes the importance of addressing the governance dysfunctions that were so blatantly exposed during the pandemic.

"Health for all will be achieved by reaching the unreached and providing high quality health services that meet their needs."
Neema Kaseje
Surgical Systems Research Group & Lodwar County Referral Hospital
WHS Council Member

What do you see as the most important challenges in global health?

The most important challenge in global health is strengthening health systems serving rural and refugee populations.

What is your demand to policymakers and the international community?

Meaningfully engage with stakeholders on the ground to design sustainable solutions that will have the most impact.

How can Health for All be achieved?

Health for all will be achieved by reaching the unreached and providing high quality health services that meet their needs.

What role can the World Health Summit play?

The World Health Summit can provide a platform for multisectoral and multistakeholder engagement to accelerate impactful joint action.

Your greatest wish?

To achieve health equity through inclusive joint action.

"It is called global health because it does not refer to a nation or group of nations. The approach and solutions should adopt that philosophy."
Shadi Saleh
Global Health Institute, American University of Beirut
M8 Alliance Member

What do you see as the most important challenges in global health?

Commitment to collaborate and work beyond a nation’s own interest. Global solidarity on global health challenges. Supporting the capacity of the Global South where most of the challenges originate.

What is your demand to policymakers and the international community?

Global solidarity and selfless commitment. True internationalism.

How can Health for All be achieved?

Not sure it can be achieved. However, steps in the right direction can include innovative approaches to bi-directional resource sharing.

What role can the World Health Summit play?

Platform for ideas exchange and dialogue.

Your greatest wish?

True action towards global health equity.

Your message to the global health community:

It is called global health because it does not refer to a nation or group of nations. The approach and solutions should adopt that philosophy.

"We advocate for the strengthening of community health systems everywhere—in poor and rich countries alike."
Jagan Chapagain
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
WHS Council Member

What do you see as the most important challenges in global health?

The main challenge we face is to tackle the vast inequities in access to health between and within countries. The number and severity of disease outbreaks, climate change and environmental degradation, compound these inequities. Because of their complexity, they require coordinated engagement at all levels, between a wide range of sectors including national and global health sectors, communities, and civil society.

What is your demand to policymakers and the international community?

If Governments, policy makers, and decision-makers heed the call to develop and implement equitable, inclusive, people-centered health systems we can prioritize human security for all. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated how global health can deteriorate rapidly and exacerbated grave problems in our health systems. Specifically, we advocate for the strengthening of community health systems everywhere—in poor and rich countries alike.

How can Health for All be achieved?

Health for All can be achieved through strong and resilient health systems that prioritize the needs of vulnerable communities first. Delivering safe, high-quality and reliable health care to last-mile communities will foster trust, ownership and multi-sectoral approaches—and establish supportive and resilient healthcare that works to eliminate gender inequalities and all types of exclusion for all people.

What role can the World Health Summit play?

The WHS, as the leading international forum on global health, is an excellent platform to guide discussions on critical health issues. By engaging with and integrating together the scientific community, donors and partners, the private sector, civil society, health authorities and communities, the WHS should embrace its role as leader in building solidarity for global health.

Your greatest wish?

My greatest wish is health equity. The global health community has a responsibility to ensure that everyone has access to essential health services. No one should be left behind and we need to work tirelessly to remove the barriers to good health for everyone, everywhere.

"One of the top priorities is to improve global and sectoral governance, based on current geopolitical realities, diversity and inclusion."
Magda Robalo
Institute for Global Health and Development
WHS Council Member

What do you see as the most important challenges in global health?

The most important global health challenges are not the disease causing-agents or other root causes of ill-health- such as gender inequality- but the mismatch between the level of ambition and the efforts put into achieving better health outcomes. Low political will, donor fatigue, inadequate commitment to medium to long term domestic and international financing, top-down and medically-oriented approaches to disease control, insufficient multisectoral coordination and stakeholders and communities involvement are preventing science, innovation and technology to achieve larger impact on health outcomes. 

What is your demand to policymakers and the international community?

The world is facing intractable challenges, fuelled by widening inequities, increased poverty and entangled global world order. One of the top priorities is to improve global and sectoral governance, based on current geopolitical realities, diversity and inclusion. My demand is for governance for equity to be prioritized as a key lever for progress on the SDGs Agenda . 

What role can the World Health Summit play?

WHS should be a catalyst for change and source of innovative solutions. It should strive to stay ahead of the curve and resist the comfort of navigating only on the “mainstreet” of issues. By converging a broad range of stakeholders and being 'free' of political pressure, WHS is in a unique position to convene “wild” (frank, open) discussions and collect views that are free of political correctness.

"Implement the existing policies - no need to reinvent the wheel!"
Bruno Lab
Geneva University Hospitals (HUG)
M8 Alliance Member

What do you see as the most important challenges in global health?

Equitable access to health services - preventive and curative - as well as to diagnosis and treatments.

What is your demand to policymakers and the international community?

Implement the existing policies - no need to reinvent the wheel ! - and to secure funding for both disease programs and for Health System Strengthening initiatives.

How can Health for All be achieved?

By focusing on LMIC context and by prioritizing strategic investments to the benefit of the most vulnerable populations / communities.

What role can the World Health Summit play?

To connect policymakers, academics and experts with field actors, activists and communities.

Your greatest wish?

Global health agenda being driven by the imperative of solidarity and equity between global North and global South.

"Innovative technologies play a key role. For example, the scaling effects of digitalization will make healthcare more accessible, more affordable, and more precise."
Bernd Montag
Siemens Healthineers
WHS Council Member

What do you see as the most important challenges in global health?

Half of the world’s population lacks adequate access to medical care, the number of chronically ill people is rising, and there is a shortage of skilled medical professionals. These are the major challenges in global health. I believe we can tackle them with technology, collaboration and global action to improve the situation for everyone everywhere.

What is your demand to policymakers and the international community?

It is all about doing and taking responsibility rather than demanding. We appreciate the opportunity to pave the way together with other experts and opinion leaders, to set up lighthouse projects and to inspire others. 

How can Health for All be achieved?

Given the huge healthcare challenges the entire global community is facing, there is no one fits all solution. But many organizations have learned during the pandemic that swift and decisive action is critical. Undoubtedly, innovative technologies play a key role. For example, the scaling effects of digitalization will make healthcare more accessible, more affordable, and more precise.

What role can the World Health Summit play?

Working for the health of others is one of the strongest drivers to bring people from all over the world to the same table, even if they have differences in other areas. It is this table which the World Health Summit offers as a host, facilitator and organizer. It unites people behind a common goal and helps them to join forces.

"Local challenges need localized solutions and a deep understanding of how public health intersects with local health care delivery to produce the best outcomes."
Sophia Zoungas
School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University
M8 Alliance Member

I am privileged to lead a School that is deeply engaged in understanding and addressing many of the most important challenges in global health today—health system sustainability, universal health coverage and achieving equity in health outcomes, the rapidly escalating impacts of our climate on health and the ever-evolving opportunities and challenges of healthcare in the digital age.

But for me, the rising prevalence and burden of non-communicable diseases (including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and mental health) is an intergenerational cataclysm that we can no longer close our eyes to and ignore.

In my field of endocrinology, diabetes was responsible for 6.7 million deaths in 2021—one every 5 seconds. In South East Asia, the number of people living with diabetes is predicted to increase by 69 per cent to 152 million by 2045. And in my region, the Western Pacific accounts for over a third (38 per cent) of the total number of adults living with diabetes worldwide.

These are staggering numbers. And yet worse, is that 86 per cent of the premature deaths attributable to NCDs are in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs).

We must mobilize now, as a global health community, to develop and implement effective and low resource interventions that are accessible and appropriate for the LMICs that are experiencing an unprecedented escalation of morbidity and mortality related to chronic, and largely preventable, diseases.

And we must mobilize with the urgency and levels of investment and international cooperation seen at the beginning of the pandemic. Because it will require unprecedented levels of funding for large-scale prevention and early detection and intervention strategies and unprecedented levels of cooperation, collaboration and co-design to ensure they can be implemented where they’re needed most.

Local challenges need localized solutions and a deep understanding of how public health intersects with local health care delivery to produce the best outcomes. It is here that I think we have the most to gain (and the most to lose if we don’t get it right), and why the platform that the World Health Summit provides is so critical for accelerating cut through on these major systemic issues.

I do believe it is possible to achieve truly transformative progress when robust evidence, sound policy and strong communities are enabled to work together.

"The call to policymakers and the international community is to join forces to improve the identification of health needs, the definition of the decision-making process and the implementation of interventions."
Eugenio Gaudio
Sapienza University of Rome
M8 Alliance Member

What do you see as the most important challenges in global health?

The most important global health challenges are: (i) improving social epidemiology research to highlight the magnitude, characteristics, and dynamics of inequalities in health and access to health care at international level; (ii) training and updating all health professionals on Global Health issues; (iii) developing strategies to reduce inequalities; and (iv) advocacy for health equity.

What is your demand to policymakers and the international community?

As equity is one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved by 2030, the call to policymakers and the international community is to join forces to improve the identification of health needs, the definition of the decision-making process and the implementation of interventions using planning tools to measure and address inequalities, such as the Health Equity Audits (HEA).

How can Health for All be achieved?

It is difficult to say and even more difficult to achieve.

What role can the World Health Summit play?

The role of the World Health Summit could be to provide cultural, scientific, and technical support to governments, policymakers and managers at different levels (international, national and local) in the implementation of intersectoral policies for health (in the health and non-health sectors), considering the impact of structural determinants and evaluating the health outcomes of interventions.

Your greatest wish?

Peace and health for all.

"Cultivating a steady stream of highly competent health professionals and scientists, who give back to their countries and regions, and who work to improve health and well-being, is investing in the future."
Steven L. Kanter
Association of Academic Health Centers (AAHC)
M8 Alliance Member

Collaboration among the leaders of healthcare institutions drives innovation, builds resilience, and leads to better health for all. When these leaders come together to work and act collectively, there is an exponential increase in our power to improve the human condition, and we are investing in the future. Maintaining strong connections across borders and boundaries is investing in the future. And, cultivating a steady stream of highly competent health professionals and scientists, who give back to their countries and regions, and who work to improve health and well-being, is investing in the future. AAHCI supports these vital efforts and will continue to foster thought leadership, catalyze the exchange of best practices, and facilitate new partnerships.

"The WHO's coordination of measures to combat the current pandemic has clearly shown that this global health organization is instrumental in the most severe moments of illness on our planet."
Carlos Santos
Coimbra Hospital and University Center
M8 Alliance Member

What do you see as the most important challenges in global health?

The greatest challenge for global health is universal access for populations to preventive and curative health care. The most recent times of the pandemic period have demonstrated how the more developed countries have failed to share the distribution of vaccines in lower income countries, COVAX program. 

If to this recent period we add the current moment of war (Ukraine, Sudan, etc.) with devastating consequences on populations, deaths, diseases and lack of food, among others, our prediction will be of a worsening in universal access to global health.

What role can the World Health Summit play?

The WHS has a key role to play as a driver for sharing the experiences of its experts and as a stage for innovation and a forum for health policy.

The WHS has so far proven to be the largest and most relevant European forum on global health in Europe. Its latest challenge in establishing a partnership with World Health Organization has further sharpened its focus on global health. Its themes with highly topical issues, namely those related to climate change, focus its concerns on the most current problems with very significant impacts on people's health. 

Its impact as an international forum with great relevance allows it to make very significant gains with an impact on the concept of health diplomacy, allowing it a very beneficial approach to African countries.

Your greatest wish

Greater recognition and empowerment of the role of the World Health Organization in defining strategies for global health policies.

The WHO's coordination of measures to combat the current pandemic has clearly shown that this global health organization is instrumental in the most severe moments of illness on our planet.

The definition of more global policies and strategies with implications for their application at a more operational level by countries in general and particularly by those most affected by health problems is a determining factor for the success of population health programs.

"Prioritize targeted investments in health and health systems with proven high returns on investments."
Francesca Colombo
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
WHS Council Member

What do you see as the most important challenges in global health?

Successfully tackling multiple challenges - pandemic preparedness, resilient health systems, UHC, climate change and health, AMR, mental health - in a complex geopolitical and fiscal context.

What is your demand to policymakers and the international community?

Prioritize targeted investments in health and health systems with proven high returns on investments.

How can Health for All be achieved?

Push reforms to create fiscal space for health, remove financial barriers to care, invest in health professionals and build quality into health systems from the start.

What role can the World Health Summit play?

Help to bridge the gap between health research, policy and practice at national, regional and global level.

Your greatest wish?

Health and wellbeing for all.

"The international community should strive to redefine global health priorities to reflect current challenges and disease burden."
Adnan Hyder
The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health
M8 Alliance Member

What do you see as the most important challenges in global health?

  • Universal Health Coverage
  • Confronting racism and ensuring gender equity
  • Health systems’ preparedness for health shocks like pandemics
  • Addressing social and commercial determinants of health
  • Climate crisis and its impact on people’s health

What is your demand to policymakers and the international community?

  • Better linkage between evidence and health policy at both global and national levels
  • The international community should strive to redefine global health priorities to reflect current challenges and disease burden
  • Create new models of prevention and care to ensure people stay healthy, and are re-integrated into society after they face an acute or chronic condition  
  • Increased and strategic global health diplomacy to ensure health remains a policy and financial focus

How can Health for All be achieved?

  • Emphasizing that context is incredibly important when working on Health for All and policies should take societal values and culture into consideration during health system strengthening  
  • Political commitments and declarations with financial incentives to configure health systems are key
  • Addressing social and commercial determinants of health through health system strengthening and responsiveness is sustainable

What role can the World Health Summit play?

  • Promote research for health; include various disciplines, skills, professions, and topics for a problem-solving approach to health 
  • Foster a platform for researchers and policymakers to come together to discuss global health issues
  • Promote younger, diverse and more inclusive voices for global health  

Your greatest wish? 

  • A peaceful, equitable and healthier world 
"Only if all stakeholders work together in partnership, we can achieve a healthier future. The World Health Summit brings them together to discuss innovative solutions for pressing health needs."
Andrew Ullmann
German Parliament, Subcommittee for Global Health
WHS Council Member

Following the COVID-19 pandemic global health needs to remain high on the political agenda. It is the chance of our lifetime to learn our lesson and push for ambitious reforms. Only if all stakeholders work together in partnership, we can achieve a healthier future. The World Health Summit brings them together to discuss innovative solutions for pressing health needs.

"Policies both need to address short term emergencies and long term issues as prevention of pandemics and building of reliance and trust."
Ilona Kickbusch
Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies
WHS Council Co-Chair

What do you see as the most important challenges in global health?

The most important challenges are intersectoral such as equity, climate and health, digital transformation and health and financing global health to attain equity. They are also geopolitical as power shifts in global health negotiations.

What is your demand to policymakers and the international community?

To see how urgent it is to act along many dimensions: human rights, equity, determinants of health. Policies both need to address short term emergencies – for example 100 million diabetics in India – and long term issues as prevention of pandemics and building of reliance and trust.

How can Health for All be achieved?

Only through determined political action in many areas.

What role can the World Health Summit play?

The WHS Council has discussed strengthening the WHS to become the globally most important and relevant platform for leaders from academia, government, private sector and civil society to shape the agenda for a healthier future. The WHS should develop into an important catalyst for innovative solutions for better health and wellbeing for all.

Your greatest wish? 

Health for All

"The world is faced with multiple crises, so politicians, the private sector, CSOs, foundations and researchers must double down on their efforts despite strained national budgets."
Tobias Kahler
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
WHS Council Member

What do you see as the most important challenges in global health?

Whether in maternal health, child mortality, immunization rates, or the fight against diseases like HIV or malaria, the global community must persevere in making up for setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the world is faced with multiple crises, so politicians, the private sector, CSOs, foundations and researchers must double down on their efforts despite strained national budgets.

What is your demand to policymakers and the international community?

Political leadership and international collaboration are key. To build resilient health systems, the community needs to fully fund innovations for better health products and high-impact programs such as the Global Fund or Gavi. As an important partner of the Global South, Germany needs to ensure that “Western countries” keep commitments to the poorest if they want to be seen as credible while upholding their values.

What role can the World Health Summit play?

The WHS remains a unique interactive and inclusive forum for the international global health community. It should further advance political action and hold governments, international organizations, and other stakeholders accountable to ensure progress in the poorest countries. Many initiatives have been kicked off at the WHS, especially for issues that are at constant risk of being neglected, a great base for future efforts.

"Whether it is securing the health of our planet for the next generation or keeping the world safe from pandemics, the key is to work together on solutions to these issues."
Chikwe Ihekweazu
World Health Organization (WHO)
WHS Council Member

What do you see as the most important challenges in global health?

Whether it is securing the health of our planet for the next generation or keeping the world safe from pandemics, the key is to work together on solutions to these issues. But crucial to this collaboration is trust between countries and people. This is not the state of affairs but requires consistent and intentional work.

What is your demand to policymakers and the international community?

Better development and use of data to inform decision making on epidemic and pandemic threats.

How can Health for All be achieved?

For Health for All to be a reality, we need to invest in strengthening health systems led by a strong national public health agency that safeguards public health, especially for the vulnerable.

What role can the World Health Summit play?

Reaffirming Germany’s firm commitment to multilateralism, the World Health Summit has managed to bring together major actors from academia, government, and private sector. We need such spaces to build meaningful collaborations that can address the global health challenges of our times.

Your greatest wish? 

My greatest wish would be that the transformative work done by the Division of Health Emergency Intelligence & Surveillance Systems and the WHO Hub for Pandemic & Epidemic Intelligence ushers a new era of collaborations that redefine our understanding of global health and better prepares us for future health emergencies.

"My demand is that politicians in all countries re-prioritize health expenditure as the foundation for people’s well-being and socio-economic cohesion."
Christoph Benn
The Joep Lange Institute
WHS Council Member

What do you see as the most important challenges in global health?

The most important challenge for global health is climate change, threatening to reverse the great progress that has been made over the last decades in terms of better health care and improved living conditions leading to longer life expectancy. To meet this enormous challenge countries, require health systems that are resilient to the climate change that is already happening and future pandemics.

What is your demand to policymakers and the international community?

The COVID-19 pandemic in combination with the consequences of the war in the Ukraine have led to severe budgetary constraints in all countries. In this situation it is more challenging for policy makers to allocate the required financial resources for health domestically and internationally. My demand is that politicians in all countries re-prioritize health expenditure as the foundation for people’s well-being and socio-economic cohesion.

How can Health for All be achieved?

Health for all for me always meant affordable quality health services for all. Unfortunately, we are far from achieving this global goal. The more realistic goal has been Primary Health Care for all. For that we need strong political will, the application of evidence-based policies and making modern digital tools available at the primary care level. Digitally enabled Primary Health Care is a tangible goal that policy makers should adopt.

What role can the World Health Summit play?

The World Health Summit has evolved into the major global platform for scientists, health care practitioners, politicians, civil society and the private sector to discuss health in the broadest sense, not limited to specific diseases or health issues. It can therefore play a critical role in advancing the priorities outlined above such as health and climate change, financing and digitally enabled PHC.

Your greatest wish?

People even in the most resource constraint and fragile countries have access to essential health services based on evidence and human rights. These services are paid for by taxes in their countries complemented by contributions from countries that can afford more international solidarity, thereby avoiding poverty enhancing out-of-pocket expenditures for health.

"Equitable and fully integrated One Health approaches at all levels and across sectors."
Andrea Winkler
Technical University of Munich
WHS Council Member

What do you see as the most important challenges in global health?

  • Equitable and fully integrated One Health approaches at all levels and across sectors
  • Inclusive One Health governance structures
  • Genuine global health leadership beyond vested national interests
  • Including vulnerable populations in relevant decision-making processes
  • Within a One Health approach, putting the environment at the center
  • Increasing overall funding for global health including non-communicable diseases

What is your demand to policymakers and the international community? 

  • Engaging in less self-serving, more far-sighted visions
  • Using evidence as a basis for action
  • Taking the implementation of One Health seriously
  • Engaging the private sector in a win-win situation
  • Creating true partnership between relevant actors with co-leadership (=One Health leadership)
  • Building global health and One Health capacities across sectors

Your greatest wish? 

  • Peace, zero hunger, total poverty alleviation and free education for all, especially for women!
"All countries should have a universal health insurance to cover health care for the sick and a public health system to protect and promote health."
Chang-Chuan Chan
College of Public Health, National Taiwan University
M8 Alliance Member

What do you see as the most important challenges in global health?

Improve global health equity across all places, races, and social classes.

What is your demand to policymakers and the international community?

Establish a truly inclusive governance mechanism of global health that treats states, territories and non state actors equally.

How can Health for All be achieved?

All countries should have a universal health insurance to cover health care for the sick and a public health system to protect and promote health.

What role can the World Health Summit play?

WHS should go beyond political and bureaucratic barriers that most UN organizations suffer to promote a safer and fairer global health.

Your greatest wish?

WHS should expand its coverage to areas that are underrepresented in the summit, such as Asia and South America.

Your message to the global health community:

Learn the lessons of COVID-19 carefully to prepare us better to meet the challenges of another global health crisis. It is worthwhile for global health communities to examine health resilience of countries in the Asia-Pacific region in this COVID-19 pandemic.

"For future pandemics, we need a thriving innovation eco-system as well as a new social contract that supports pathogen sharing, open borders and equitable access."
Thomas Cueni
International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA)
WHS Council Member

At this year’s WHS, we must address three critical global health challenges: preparing for future pandemics, strengthening health systems to get UHC back on track, and tackling antimicrobial resistance. For future pandemics, we need a thriving innovation eco-system as well as a new social contract that supports pathogen sharing, open borders and equitable access. Strengthening health systems is critical to ensure access to essential medicines for all, and tackling antimicrobial resistance requires fundamental changes in how new antibiotics are valued. This year’s summit could not come at a more critical time for governments, multilateral organizations, and the private sector to engage in solutions-focused discussions to ensure an evidence based approach to global health development.