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Future of global healthcare tops Qatar summit agenda.
Affordable cancer care, diabetes, dementia, universal health coverage, mental health and the well-being of children and patient safety were all on the agenda of the two day summit, an initiative of Qatar's Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development.
More than 1,000 policy makers and healthcare experts gathered in the Qatari capital Doha on Tuesday, to discuss possible solutions to some of the world's most urgent health challenges at the second World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH).
The experts shared "new research on cancer, ideas on tackling dementia, insights into Ebola and evidence on preventing diabetes", according to the WISH website.
The former Chief Executive of NHS England - a special health authority of the UK's National Health Service - Sir David Nicholson, said the summit discussed how countries can improve access to health services for its citizens.
"There is no country in the world that's solved all of the problems in relation to healthcare. But there are answers to some of those problems in almost all of the countries. So, bringing people together to swap ideas to understand each other's healthcare systems and to work together, is a really good way of transferring the knowledge and understanding to a wider audience," he said.
Sir Nicholson said he looked at universal health coverage issues in the Middle East, visiting Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in the lead up to the forum.
"It is absolutely true that the way you deliver universal health coverage does depend on those circumstances you find in your own country. But what we would say again is that those countries, and I particularly mean for example Saudi Arabia who have committed to providing health coverage to the whole of the population, both the residents and the working population, are much more likely to deliver it faster than those who don't. And we were looking this morning at the plans for Qatar and they are absolutely right that the next step they have to make is to make it available to the whole of their population, good quality care. And that will be really important. It will really be a big step forward for the region," he added.
Currently, comprehensive health insurance is only provided to Qatari citizens.
Earlier this month, the Qatari government postponed the implementation of compulsory health insurance coverage for its majority expatriate population, which was supposed to be in place by the end of 2015.
WISH Executive Chair, Lord Ara Darzi, said although healthcare solutions need to be tailored for each country, most countries around the world face the same challenges.
"Most of it is chronic disease, non-communicable diseases, things like diabetes, obesity, and the crisis of obesity, you know, cancer, which before used to be a deadly disease, now it's become a chronic disease. So, we need to find ways of managing this change in the nature of disease and the burden of disease," he said.
He added that innovation is the key to finding solutions for many health problems, but the cogs in the healthcare system are turning too slowly.
"The problem in healthcare (is that) innovation doesn't spread as quickly as what it happens for example in finance industry or education. So, the purpose of today is how do we really find ways in which we can enable the diffusion of innovation," said Lord Darzi.
The summit which concluded on Wednesday highlighted several pressing health topics including the rising rate of diabetes worldwide.
A report presented to the summit stated that more than 380 million people across the world currently suffer from diabetes.
The report warned that this number is expected to increase by 50 percent by the year 2035.
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