World Innovation Summit on Health (WISH)

Last week I attended WISH as a guest of Lord Ara Darzi along with around 800 international delegates representing health fields across the globe. The Institute for Global Health Innovation at Imperial college London has posted some highlights online and Richard Horton provided a comment piece in the Lancet this week. Both profile the contribution of Aung San Suu Kyi and this was also my highlight because her message was strong and focused, and her commitment to health innovation clear through the power of ideas  and human values. She emphasised the human spirit in transforming health care drawing on the experience of her own mother as a nurse and the reaction of others to human qualities that drive nursing as a profession of healing. She spoke of the importance of spiritual health, as well as mental and physical health, emphasising that spiritual values are at the heart of healthy society.

WISH 2013 was organised around a series of forums each with its own report and I had been involved in the preparation of the mental health forum report. In particular gathering the views of civil society on innovations in mental health care. At the event I decided not to attend the mental health forum because in parallel the engagement session was running. For the McPin Foundation it was important to hear what others in the health field were saying about how people who use services can contribute to innovative solutions in healthcare. I was really pleased to see in the patient and family engagement forum report a recommendation around the valuable role of patients as partners in research, not only as participants, but as part of the research team and at WISH a thoughtful suggestion from the floor that less emphasis on patient engagement is required, but rather we should be looking at citizen engagement. Prevention strategies must be centre stage in conversations about innovations in healthcare.

Lord Darzi opened WISH 2013 by saying that the summit was about bringing policy and practice together and “getting one step ahead” by assessing how to speed up the innovation translation process from idea to application at scale. In the innovation showcase there were lots of practical examples of healthcare innovations such as miniaturisation of technology but barriers remain and in mental health that includes stigma. Many countries do not have a mental health policy. To help inspire and to showcase global mental health innovations a data base has been launched by the Centre for Global Mental Health based at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. This is only the beginning. The audience at WISH 2013 were described as the “movers and shakers” in healthcare and for all the mental health forum participants the aim was to introduce mental health into conversations with as many delegates as possible. Place mental health on everyone’s agenda. This was also the aim of the patient and family engagement forum and fruitful conversations were shared on how to achieve increased recognition for people with mental health problems and their families in health, education and research.

I left the summit reflecting mostly on the contribution of Aung San Suu Kyi. The call to infuse our healthcare system with values sounds straight forward but is incredibly hard to deliver in our complex healthcare systems with professional rivalries and silo sector working. There is much to be done and one small contribution in the beginning of 2014 will be the launch of our Driving Change report. Seasons Greetings all.