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Building more resilient health systems and advancing biotech innovation among key discussions on opening day

Doha, Qatar, October 4, 2022 – Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation, today opened the 2022 edition of Qatar Foundation’s World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), taking place in Doha, Qatar, in a hybrid format from October 4 – 6, 2022, under the theme: “Healing the Future”.

“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,” said Her Highness Sheikha Moza 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 re-build our healthcare systems, making them robust and accessible to all.

“We look towards transformative events to inspire individuals and remind them of their responsibility towards their personal health and their community.”

Among the several VIPs who were in attendance at the opening ceremony were H.E. Samia Suluhu Hassan, President of The United Republic of Tanzania; H.E. Jeannette Kagame, the First Lady of Rwanda; and H.E. Dr. Fatima Maada Bio, the First Lady of Sierra Leone; as well as a number of excellencies and ministers, experts, leaders and decision makers in various fields.

Her Highness Sheikha Moza was joined by Professor the Lord Darzi of Denham, Executive Chair of WISH, who highlighted WISH’s enduring work and impact despite many obstacles over the past 10 years, and reflected on the lessons learnt from challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said: “This has been WISH’s mission from the start: to bring people together to develop, to promote, disseminate innovations that can really transform the world. Over the next three days, it is my hope that we can learn together, inspire each other to achieve our shared ambitions. We can show the world how, in place of discord and division, collaboration and corporation can help us meet the challenges we face. With the power of the WISH community, we can promote better health for everyone and broaden access to high quality care for all.

“This is what we mean by healing the future.”

An audience of international and local dignitaries also heard from Her Excellency Samia Suluhu Hassan, President of The United Republic of Tanzania, who recognized the key role that WISH has had by contributing immensely to the literature on health issues and on influencing governmental policies aiming to achieve universal healthcare.

“The interest of WISH of having a fair, equitable, and healthy world is clearly reflected by the range of experts gathered here today. I’m witnessing firsthand the enthusiasm of key global players in the health sector to drive efforts to promote healthier and equitable access to health services in order to achieve sustainable development. Certainly, today’s conference is a state in the right direction and I’m in full support of it.

“Tanzania greatly values the partnership with WISH, and we are keen to expand our collaboration around a healthier, fair, and equitable healthcare system for our people.”

Her Excellency Dr. Hanan Al Kuwari, Qatar’s Minister of Health, was also in attendance, as well as Dr. Ahmed Al Mandhari, the Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean of the World Health Organization. Ministerial delegations from 16 countries were also present, including those from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

The keynote speaker at the opening ceremony was Dr. Noubar Afeyan, founder and CEO of Flagship Pioneering, and co-founder of Moderna, the American pharmaceutical and biotechnology company that developed a key vaccine for COVID-19.

“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.

“By waiting for disease to manifest, costs are higher, preventing many from accessing care and outcomes are worse. Early detection that preempts disease or reverses or manages a pre-disease condition could offer a solution to health care inequities. We call this preemptive health: the application of leading-edge biological sciences and digital technology to traditional public health goals,” said Dr Afeyan.

Speaking in the context of the creation of Moderna’s safe and highly effective COVID-19 vaccine, he emphasized the role of innovation and imagination in creating breakthrough leaps in biotechnology, and examined the pathway to preventing and preempting disease before it takes hold.

The opening ceremony concluded with an expert panel discussion on building the resilience of global health systems. The discussion was underpinned by an evidence-based policy report launched shortly before the summit titled “Building Health System Resilience; a roadmap for navigating future pandemics”.

Day one of WISH also hosted a forum discussion based on the WISH 2022 report titled “A new era for vaccine innovation: Harnessing the lessons learned from COVID-19 Vaccine”. Expert speakers included Dr. Jerome Kim, Director General, International Vaccine Institute, and Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, Professor of Vaccinology at the University of Oxford and co-developer of the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The panelists spoke about enablers of pharmaceutical innovation, from advancements in technology to operational excellence to clinical trial design and discussed policy recommendations to build on this progress for future vaccines.

An insightful discussion ensued around the topic of “Islamic Ethics and the Healthcare of Children in the Genetics Era”where experts discussed Islamic ethical approaches to addressing various dilemmas surrounding premarital, preimplantation, prenatal and newborn genetic testing.

Several other talks and activities took place including a showcase of the WISH 2022 innovators – 20 healthcare entrepreneurs who were selected to exhibit at this year’s summit as a result of qualifying through the WISH Innovation Competitions.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, WISH’s 2022 edition is the first major in-person gathering since 2018.

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