Krishna Udayakumar, Director of the Duke Global Health Innovation Center
Duke Health has been a member of the World Economic Forum for the past 10 years, positioning Duke University to play a leading role in addressing the world’s most pressing health concerns. Innovations in Healthcare, a Duke-hosted non-profit that I have the privilege of leading, was incubated through the World Economic Forum in 2009-11 and launched at Davos in 2011. Co-founded by Duke, McKinsey & Company, and the World Economic Forum, Innovations in Healthcare supports the scale and impact of promising innovations. In the past eight years, we have curated a network of 92 innovators who are improving healthcare across the globe, and we have brought together dozens of companies, foundations, and government agencies to build strong partnerships to support these promising innovations. In addition, this work has prompted significant research and policy activities across Duke, including the establishment of the Duke Global Health Innovation Center, and engaged hundreds of students at Duke University and others around the world to provide educational and experiential opportunities that would be hard to find otherwise.
I had the opportunity to again attend the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland earlier this year, January 21-24. This year, Innovations in Healthcare partnered with Takeda and Medtronic to lead a discussion titled, Leaving no patient behind: Delivering UHC 2030 via public-private partnerships. Bringing together leaders across industries, think tanks, academia, non-profits and government agencies, the session identified critical opportunities for stronger partnerships to achieve global health impact, including more ways for companies to work together rather than compete. The discussion also highlighted the value of universities to serve as trusted third parties to create unconventional coalitions of actors focused on health impact and on building capacity in low- and middle-income countries.
Other sessions in Davos focused on the immense mental health needs globally and potential solutions, including the launch of the Healthy Brains Financing Initiative, a joint effort of OneMind and the National Academy of Medicine. The threat of emerging infections is very real for many around the world, and proactively building coalitions enables quick action such as CEPI’s announcement during the WEF Annual Meeting of new programs to urgently develop vaccines against the novel coronavirus, 2019-nCoV.
My time in Davos this year re-affirmed the value of engagement and partnerships to drive action. It also highlighted the unique and privileged position that Duke University holds as an institution engaged at the highest levels across public and private sectors in its efforts to improve health globally.