Germany for the first time has placed health onto the G20 Agenda. From your perspective: What are the greatest global opportunities and challenges with regards to health?
We have seen significant treatment advances that allow patients to live longer, healthier and more productive lives. At the same time, medical progress, technological advances, demographic shifts and changes in lifestyle, that is, the burden of non-communicable diseases, have put many healthcare systems under strain. By prioritizing health in this year’s G20 discussion, the G20 governments underline the relevance of healthcare for sustainable economic growth and for individual well-being, and this is a great step forward in the global health debate.
What are the greatest challenges to innovation in health?
We need a societal and regulatory environment that incentivizes research and development and values innovation in its various forms including incremental benefits as these steps cumulatively lead to therapeutic progress over time. Only a pro-innovation ecosystem will help meet the needs of patients struggling with a broad range of diseases and develop healthcare systems in a sustainable way.
Understanding the economic benefits of innovative medicines in addition to the gains of quality of life for patients is vital to ensure the most efficient deployment of healthcare resources. Moreover, new approaches such as self-care or technological advances need to be quickly adopted.
What policy action would you like the G20 countries to agree on?
The G20 countries should further prioritize healthcare in their political agenda-setting. They need to establish a pro-innovation ecosystem for healthcare by appreciating innovation, reducing inefficiencies in the whole system and advancing new approaches and new technologies. This ranges from policies that value innovative medicines to policies that support research and development activities e.g. in the fields of neglected tropical diseases or antimicrobial resistance. We also need to focus on educating and empowering individuals to enhance self-care and to leverage digital health technologies.
What are your overall expectations for the B20 health initiative?
For Bayer, the dialogue between all stakeholders – policy makers, business, academia, civil society and healthcare institutions – is key to ensure a broad societal consensus: diseases are our common foe and we need to collaborate and work together to combat them.
I believe that the B20 Health Initiative is the right platform on the international level to address global health issues such as antimicrobial resistance or health crisis prevention. And it is the right platform to commit to strengthening the different national healthcare systems based on the four pillars: prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure.