Investing in healthy populations

  • September 14, 2015
Investing in healthy populations

Eva-Maria Hempe organised a session on heath promotion at the World Economic Forum.

Understanding what businesses, governments and societies at large have to gain from investing in health requires an approach that assesses full societal costs and full societal benefits of healthy populations.

Eva-Maria Hempe

Healthy populations can drive socio-economic growth and we have to find the right mechanisms for different organsiations who profit from them, including businesses, to work together and invest in them, a Gates Cambridge Alumna told an international meeting last week.

Eva-Maria Hempe organised a session at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of New Champions in Dalian, China [pictured], on physical and built environments that promote health with a range of high-level figures, including ministers of health, executives of for-profit and non-for-profits across a range of industries, as well as leading academics. Based on the outcomes as well as her ongoing research at the WEF, she will also be organising a similar event in early 2016 at the WEF's Annual Meeting in Davos. The 2016 event will focus on defining specific actions which maximise the number of years a person is healthy and stop the rise of non-communicable diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

After finishing her PhD in Engineering, where she investigated applications for engineering design thinking in the design of healthcare services, Eva-Maria [2007] has been working for management consultancy Bain & Company. Since May she has been seconded to the WEF where she is managing a project called "Future of Healthy". It is looking for ways the public and private sector can together turn the tide on non-communicable diseases and mental ill-health.

A recent report by the consultancy and WEF shows how healthy individuals and healthy populations can create a competitive advantage through increased productivity, reduced healthcare costs and overall higher levels of well-being. It says an unhealthy population is expensive – for governments, for businesses, for communities and for individuals. It adds that understanding what businesses, governments and societies at large have to gain from investing in health "requires an approach that assesses full societal costs and full societal benefits of healthy populations".

The report stresses the need for a new way of thinking about the return on investment of healthy populations. It says it is critical to bring all relevant stakeholders together to create a common understanding of the value of healthy populations in order to attract private and public investment and to promote healthy populations. Specific actions on how to do this and unlock investment in multi-stakeholder value propositions for health and wellness will be the subject of a further report which Eva-Maria and her team plan to publish in time for the WEF Annual Meeting in Davos.

Latest News

Gut bacteria links to immune responses in the brain

Bugs in the gut may hold the key to protective immune measures in the brain which could have implications for diseases such as Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis, according to a new study led by Gates Cambridge Scholar Zachary Fitzpatrick. A paper based on his PhD research has recently been published in Nature and it highlights […]

Exploring the social barriers to take-up of green technology

How can rural communities be encouraged to take up green energy solutions? A new study co-authored by Gates Cambridge Scholar Ramit Debnath investigates the social barriers to uptake of household appliances fuelled by green energy. Based on research on more than 14.5K households in rural communities in Rwanda, the study, published in Renewable Energy, found […]

A new technique to decode the way the nervous system works

How do the billions of neurons in the human brain work together to give rise to thought or certain types of behaviour? A new study led by Gates Cambridge Alumnus Eviatar Yemini [2007] outlines a colouring technique, known as NeuroPAL (a Neuronal Polychromatic Atlas of Landmarks), which makes it possible – at least in experiments […]

An innovative approach to plant protection

Shauna-Lee Chai is passionate about working on wicked problems, about using her entrepreneurial skills to improve the lives of others and about seeing the big picture, something she says her experience as a Gates Cambridge Scholar contributed to. Her expertise is in invasive plant species and for three years she was Board Director of the […]