Investing in healthy populations
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.
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  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.