Imperial College London

Virtual summit launches to shape policy on pressing global health issues


A plaque at a protest

A global community of health leaders, advocates, researchers and innovators are gathering at a virtual summit to tackle urgent healthcare challenges.

Opening on 15th November, the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) 2020 event is launching a series of policy reports that offer evidence-based recommendations to address a range of current health and care issues, from mental health to the impacts of climate change on human health.

The College’s Institute of Global Health Innovation (IGHI) is a partner of WISH, whose mission is to unite people to develop, promote and disseminate innovations in health care that can bring transformational change for all.

We must counter the forces of hatred and unreason that try to drive us apart. Prof Ara Darzi IGHI co-director

The event was opened by WISH leader Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser.

Professor the Lord Ara Darzi, WISH Executive Chair and IGHI Co-Director, said: “Nurturing the WISH community has become ever more vital, as political upheavals across the globe have brought reason, knowledge and expertise under attack. We must counter the forces of hatred and unreason that try to drive us apart.

“Out of a conference, WISH has created a community, a unique platform and a proving ground for new ideas.”

The global response to COVID-19

Understanding and responding to the evolving coronavirus pandemic will be a cross-cutting theme at WISH 2020.

On the first day of the event, a ministerial panel on COVID-19 set the stage for discussions on global efforts to tackle the outbreak, lessons learnt so far, and how policymakers, governments, and healthcare providers can better manage pandemic responses in the future.

Panel members include Professor Dame Sally Davies, UK Special Envoy on Antimicrobial Resistance, Dr David Nabarro, IGHI Co-Director and World Health Organization Special Envoy on COVID-19, and Dr Anders Tegnell, State Epidemiologist of Sweden.

Sustainable action to address present and future challenges

Alongside COVID-19, sustainability will be a key focus of this year’s Summit, under the banner ‘One World. One Health’.

Our physical and mental health are being affected by climate change all over the world. Dr David Nabarro IGHI co-director

The first policy report to be launched at the event, ‘Health in the climate crisis. A guide for health leaders’, was chaired by Dr David Nabarro, a world-renowned expert on climate change. The report outlines 10 practical steps that health leaders can take to respond to this growing health emergency and make tangible changes to benefit people and planet.

“Our physical and mental health are being affected by climate change all over the world,” said Dr Nabarro.

“The more I look into how climate change is affecting people, the more I realise that health workers have a vital role. They can act as advocates, drawing on their own authority and legitimacy as trusted carers and connecting with stakeholders in different sectors. This enables them to work together with a clear focus on enabling people to maintain, and indeed optimise, their health - despite the massive challenges caused by climate change.

“We hope that the report on Climate Change and Health discussed during WISH 2020 will be of value to the health professionals for the foreseeable future.”

The other reports to be launched at WISH over the coming days are as follows:

  • Building healthy societies. A framework for integrating health and health promotion into education
  • The digital mental health revolution. Transforming care through innovation and scale-up
  • Stepping up to the plate. Planning for a long-lasting health legacy from major sporting events
  • Realising the promise of immunotherapy. A global plan for action
  • Safeguarding our healthcare systems. A global framework for cybersecurity
  • Protecting health in dry cities. From evidence to action
  • Unheeded warnings. Mitigating the impact of climate change on communicable diseases
  • Toxic stress. Mitigating childhood adversity that affects lifelong physical and mental health
  • Islamic ethics and infertility treatment. The struggle to conceive: an Islamic approach

You can access all of the reports on the WISH website.


Justine Alford

Justine Alford
Institute of Global Health Innovation

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