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BackSeptember 13, Uppsala, Sweden

Uppsala Health Summit 2017 summary

Uppsala Health Summit

Uppsala Health Summit Summary report

By Antonio Mastroianni

The Uppsala Health Summit (UHS) was an engaging environment as this years’ topic ‘Tackling Infectious Diseases’ covered so many important issues and brought together so many diverse disciplines to talk about the impact of this subject. Climate change, destruction of ecosystems, ease of airline travel, and a growing population are all encouraging the rise of infectious diseases, which were once largely constrained by geography. Malaria and tuberculosis are well-known threats to many tropical areas, but these could very well re-emerge in the US and Europe. We also have witnessed the lightening spread of near forgotten infectious diseases like Ebola and Zika, while more avian influenza strains are emerging in China. A “One Heath” approach is required as these challenges can’t be addressed separately or on an ad hoc basis, rather they must be faced in a systematic fashion involving all the factors - the health of humans and the health of animals and the environment. As these diseases claim more lives, they also threaten the social fabric of our societies and impact regional and national economies. In addition, the healthcare industry must rethink how it conduct research, its development, and the business models to ensure society isn’t vanquished to the Middles Ages, which is certainly the risk with anti-biotic resistance. Leaders and key actors from across the clinical research and development spectrum (industry, government, non-profit, academia) were present and participated in round table discussions on various topics around the prevention, innovation, and treatment of infectious diseases.

Antonio Mastroianni from our team attended two workshops:

1. A Roadmap for Effective Diagnostics to Combat Global Infectious Disease

This workshop examined how to develop and provide rapid, reliable and affordable point-of-care diagnostic tools for use in low-resource countries at increased risk from infectious disease threats. During the discussions on translating scientific and technological advances into clinical practice, an interesting observation arose about how ideas created for low-resource countries are often useable in high-income countries via Christensen’s Disruption Theory. Also, it was agreed that waiting until “our” shores were reached was not an effective strategy because infectious diseases of global significance and concern, such as HIV and sexually transmitted diseases caused by bacteria such as Neisseria gonorrhoea and Chlamydia trachomatis are spreading too fast and are not adequately tracked. When symptoms of these communicable diseases vary or don’t clearly exist it is incredibly difficult to know if they are present, while their consequences can increase and have negative impacts on health and quality of life.

2. Innovation and Big Data in Health Surveillance

This workshop discussed how the Life Science industry can overcome challenges of processing a large variety of (noisy) data, interfacing with medical knowledge, and producing valuable outputs for actors in different contexts. This workshop touched on many of the key areas impacting clinical research and development today, such as processing health surveillance in real-time, converting this data into actionable information, keeping costs low and retaining privacy. One of the key observations from this workshop was the critical role of data standardization in the future to ensure seamless connection of data sets and the rising importance of inter-operability versus proprietary functionality.

Once again at this years’ Uppsala Health Summit medical, ethical and economic perspectives were discussed to examine challenges and dilemmas in order to improve health outcome in all parts of the world. The partners behind this effort sincerely believe that putting combined knowledge into action can make the world a better place. A full Post-Conference report is due out at the end of the year and will be available on the UHS Summit 2017 homepage.