Doha, Qatar – Health professionals, policymakers, academics and government officials from across the world joined the 2022 World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), which opened in the Qatari capital, Doha, under the theme: “Healing the Future”.
Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), opened the 10th edition of the global summit on Tuesday highlighting that big sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup 2022 can “inspire” people in Qatar and across the world to “rebuild healthcare systems”.
“WISH has always been a summit of big ideas. This year our themes are many, with one overarching goal – a search for solutions to enable all of us to live balanced, safe and healthy lives,” Sheikha Moza said in her opening remarks.
“This is where sports and exercise play a huge role, as participation is unlimited by age or class, but open to all. Big sporting events have always been a source of inspiration; motivating the State of Qatar to host the FIFA World Cup, breathing new life into our country. Events such as these can inspire us all, here in Qatar and across the world, to rebuild our healthcare systems, making them robust and accessible to all.”
Samia Suluhu Hassan, the president of Tanzania, Jeannette Kagame, the first lady of Rwanda and Dr Fatima Maada Bio, the first lady of Sierra Leone, as well as ministerial delegations from 16 countries, including those from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, attended the opening ceremony.
The keynote speaker at the opening ceremony was Dr Noubar Afeyan, co-founder of Moderna, the company that developed a COVID-19 vaccine.
“The efforts of all of us in this room to advance human health are taking place against the backdrop of what we call a health care system, but in reality is a sick care system. We spend an enormous amount of time, effort and money treating people once they are sick, rather than trying to keep them healthy,” said Afeyan, who is founder and CEO of Flagship Pioneering, a US-based life sciences venture capital company.
“By waiting for disease to manifest, costs are higher, preventing many from accessing care and outcomes are worse. Early detection that pre-empts disease or reverses or manages a pre-disease condition could offer a solution to healthcare inequities. We call this preemptive health: the application of leading-edge biological sciences and digital technology to traditional public health goals,” he said.
Speaking in the context of the creation of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, he emphasised the role of innovation and imagination in creating breakthrough leaps in biotechnology.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, WISH’s 2022 edition is the first major in-person gathering since 2018. It is an initiative of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF).