Unwavering Commitment: Frontiers Health’s Endeavors for Global Health Equity

In this article, Luigi Pavia, leading Ecosystem Engagement & Partnerships at Frontiers Health, with contributions from steering committee member Tony Estrella, highlighted how health equity is a fundamental pillar in Frontiers Health’s initiatives and events. Contact us to explore how we can collaborate to advance your health equity, global health, and one health initiatives!

Frontiers Health has consistently played a pivotal role in championing crucial concepts such as health equity, global health, and one health throughout its various conference editions.

As a foundational pillar in our design and implementation process, we want to ensure that health equity serves as a guiding principle that directs our choices and initiatives when conceptualizing our events.

Health equity refers to the absence of disparities in health outcomes and access to healthcare services among different population groups. It emphasizes the importance of ensuring that everyone can attain their highest level of health. Addressing health equity involves recognizing and rectifying social, economic, and environmental determinants that contribute to health disparities.

On the other hand, One Health is a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach that recognizes the interconnectedness of human health, animal health, and the environment. It emphasizes the idea that the health of humans, animals, and the environment are interdependent and that addressing health challenges requires a unified approach across these sectors.

It is significant for us to see the growing attention of our global audience on such topics, culminating in the 2023 edition with significant engagement in the proceedings from the Lead of Health Equity from the World Economic Forum thanks to the efforts of our Steering Committee Member Tony Estrella, who has a deep focus in this crucial area of Health Transformation

In this article, you’ll navigate through all the sessions and perspectives shared across our conferences (from the most recent ones back to 2016) with our global ecosystem of health innovators, aiming to inspire them to further commit and operate according to these principles.

Frontiers Health 2023

In 2023, we’re proud to have expanded our collaborations, by involving the World Economic Forum. In January 2023 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, nearly 40 organizations committed to the Global Health Equity Network Zero Health Gaps Pledge, a programme from the Forum’s Global Health Equity Network. 2023’s focus at Frontiers Health centred on highlighting this pledge and what it can mean for the future of improving health outcomes for everyone.

We engaged our participants in a meaningful discussion around health equity. We hosted on stage a panel of experts, who explored how the private sector can further support the World Economic Forum and Health Systems in achieving the critical goal of health equity.

Furthermore, we provided our delegates with the opportunity to gain insights from two esteemed global thought leaders in the field of Health Equity as they share their perspectives on the challenges, strategic approaches, and the pivotal role played by prominent global organizations, such as the World Economic Forum. This discussion shed light on the innovative ways these organizations are spearheading efforts to tackle unmet healthcare needs, particularly in lower- and middle-income environments. Our delegates learnt more about the landscape of Health Equity and transformative strategies employed by leaders in the global health arena.

Our last session on Health Equity at Frontiers Health 2023 was a private roundtable where nearly 20 companies from Europe and Asia engaged in a roundtable conversation on mutual challenges in Health Equity across both continents.

In addition, at FH23 we also delved into the concept One Health. Health equity and One Health are interconnected through their shared goal of promoting holistic and fair approaches to healthcare, but they operate in different domains. In essence, the collaboration between health equity and One Health underscores the importance of considering broader systemic factors, breaking down silos between disciplines, and fostering inclusive, equitable approaches to healthcare that account for the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health. For this reason, we proudly hosted a panel discussion, held in Italian, on the One Health concept. It emerged as a guiding principle for comprehensive well-being, underscoring the crucial importance of collaborative endeavors in preserving the health of our planet.

Frontiers Health 2022

In 2022, we reinforced our commitment to global health and health equity. We began with the premise that our contributions to the health industry collectively enhance people’s lives by improving quality of life, preventing illness, treating diseases, and bolstering access and affordability. However, we all face financial pressures, strive to meet metrics, and aim for clinical impact. To inaugurate FH22, we started with a conversation aiming at reminding that the “H” in health stands for Humanity, encouraging our attendees to reflect on why we have chosen health innovation as our field.

Moreover, we explored the outlook for the next decade following the expanded access to primary care facilitated by telehealth in numerous countries globally. What additional services will health systems incorporate into this platform to realize a vision of value-based care and address health disparities? We set up a panel discussion featuring insights from a pharma company and two prominent startups from different regions –South Asia and Middle East. Together, they shed light on the new ecosystems fulfilling the commitment of ensuring better health for all.

Continuing our reflections, we assumed that healthcare systems worldwide are confronted with an escalating imperative to elevate the accessibility, quality, and sustainability of care, placing a heightened emphasis on preventive and participatory healthcare. Future health developments are anticipated to hinge significantly on technological, organizational, cultural, and regulatory innovations.

The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the urgency and magnitude of the transformations necessary to achieve the ambitious goal of universal healthcare accessibility. It has highlighted the unprecedented enabling role played by digital and holistic innovations. This transformative process mirrors trends observed in other industries, demanding distinctive, interdisciplinary, and integrated approaches to enhance healthcare effectively and safely.

While health innovations are poised to elevate care on a global scale, the current juncture underscores the importance of adopting a public health approach. This shift is crucial for transitioning from specialized solutions to facilitating widespread, shared impacts and outcomes that add significant value to the healthcare landscape.

Next, our focus turned to digital access barriers. We invited a US Foundation to present an overview of its research on the role of web accessibility in expanding the number of people who can access, download, and transmit their electronic health information equitably. During this presentation, they shared insights into the challenges, opportunities, and lessons learned throughout the course of their research.

Frontiers Health 2021

In 2021, we had the opportunity to reflect on the emergence of digital therapeutics in Small States as a promising development, with the COVID-19 pandemic acting as a catalyst for its growth. This positive side effect has prompted collaborative efforts from academia, non-governmental organizations, private enterprises, and startups. Despite these initiatives, small states encounter various challenges in implementing digital therapeutic programs. Key questions revolved around the obstacles faced by small states in adopting these digital solutions and, practically, how the uptake of Digital Therapeutics in places like small islands can be accelerated. An integral part of the debate we hosted was an exploration of whether the COVID-19 pandemic has expedited the digital transformation within the realm of healthcare. The overarching theme ties into the broader context of global health, emphasizing the importance of equitable access to these innovative healthcare solutions for populations in small states.

Frontiers Health 2020

In our virtual/hybrid edition, amid the ongoing pandemic wave, we emphasized more than ever that healthcare should not be exclusive to those residing near more developed cities or towns, or those with financial means. Alarmingly, half of the world’s population lacks access to essential healthcare. To address this pressing issue, we brought Startup Health and five Health Transformers onto our virtual stage. The objective was to discuss and devise radical new solutions that tackle challenges related to healthcare delivery, cost, geographical constraints, and technology.

Following the same theme, we reflected on the opportunity of utilizing mobile software, specifically Digital Therapeutics, which have the potential to provide access to care for numerous patient populations that might otherwise be overlooked by the traditional healthcare system. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the various obstacles hindering patients from receiving necessary care, especially in the case of chronic diseases and mental illnesses, which are frequently stigmatized. Consequently, we decided to host a talk focused on advancing this vision of broadening medicine’s accessibility, also showcasing a diverse pipeline of prescription Digital Therapeutics based on a patient-centric approach.

Frontiers Health 2019

In 2019, we delved into the topic of health equity, by specifically focusing on chronic diseases. Chronic conditions have reached staggering proportions globally and are anticipated to escalate rapidly. We mentioned as a notable example the widespread prevalence of diabetes, with over 400 million individuals currently grappling with this condition worldwide. Alarmingly, projections indicate that this figure is poised to surge to over 600 million by the year 2040. This escalating global health concern underscored the urgent need for a comprehensive and inclusive approach that considers health equity as a fundamental principle. Beyond the statistics, the impact of chronic conditions disproportionately affects vulnerable populations, highlighting disparities in access to healthcare resources and treatment options.

Frontiers Health 2018

As the health industry underwent a transformative shift propelled by new technologies and digital innovations, we knew that a key challenge was ensuring that these advancements were accessible to everyone, regardless of their geographical location.

In developing nations, the demand for high-quality healthcare at reduced costs were paramount. Significant opportunities exist for vast global populations to access enhanced prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases. The collaborative efforts of startups, NGOs, and international organizations were harnessing real-time data to proactively combat epidemics, intercepting them before reaching crisis levels. Even in remote areas, individuals are now receiving healthcare, including vaccinations, and crucial information on disease prevention. However, the full potential to save lives and enhance global health remains largely untapped. For this reason, during FH18 we set up a panel focusing on harnessing the power of digital technologies to bridge gaps in healthcare access, and the improvement of health outcomes in developing regions.

Frontiers Health 2017

At FH17 we proudly hosted StartUp Health, that since their inception in 2011, have been actively constructing Health Moonshot Communities committed to addressing critical health challenges. Their focus extends to solving health moonshots encompassing issues such as improving access to care, driving costs to zero, promoting health equity, enhancing women’s health, tackling Type 1 diabetes, and confronting the complexities of Alzheimer’s disease. Hosting them onstage showcasing their innovations has been instrumental to amplify collaborative efforts, aiming to drive transformative change in these areas for the enhancement of global health.

Frontiers Health 2016

Back in 2016, we hosted a sort of dedicated hackaton, promoted by Sandoz, with the aim to tackle this issue.

We acknowledged that health is a fundamental human right crucial for well-being and economic growth. However, populations in low- and middle-income countries face challenges in accessing essential health solutions. Merck is committed to addressing global health issues by promoting a culture of innovation. During the conference we heard from a representative at the Merck Innovation Center about the approaches and strategies needed to achieve tangible results.

Final Reflections

Health innovation industry still has much work ahead to achieve equal access to care worldwide, and a collective effort is required to reach this goal. Frontiers Health is aware of its role as a catalyst for health innovators, and we feel a responsibility to deliver compelling, up-to-date, and insightful content to our delegates to contribute to this universal cause.

Reach out to us to propose your initiatives or projects related to health equity, and we will evaluate partnership opportunities.