Last summer, against the backdrop of the Olympic games, the Global Health Policy Forum brought global experts in health care to London, to generate and share new thinking on the solutions to some of the most pressing challenges in global health care: ageing populations, the rise of non-communicable diseases, and ever increasing pressure on health budgets.
The Arab Health Congress, which brings together leaders in health care from across the region and the world, is a great opportunity to build collaborations to help address these challenges. Where better for the UK government to introduce Healthcare UK — a partnership between the UK Department for Heath, the National Health Service (NHS) Commissioning Board and UK Trade & Investment.
This new collaboration signifies a major step forwards in connecting the UK’s health care sector, both public and private, with its many and varied strengths, to international partners, such as those here in Dubai.
This is already in evidence — Imperial College London, has established a diabetes centre in Abu Dhabi, with a second facility recently opening in Al Ain. Moorfields Eye Hospital operates an ophthalmic centre and is celebrating five years in Dubai. British companies are engaged in projects to develop health care systems, infrastructure and facilities across the world. And UK universities train large numbers of overseas students and are developing their international presence.
Not only has the UK a rich source of expertise and an appetite for collaboration, but a unique network of skills spanning across the health care sector.
The UK is a world leader in the life sciences: pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and medical technology. It also offers established strengths in the development of top-class medical facilities, drawing on the knowledge of its specialist design, build and operating companies.
UK universities provide a formidable research base, and have been the driving force behind the development of treatments and technologies which have helped to transform health care delivery in recent decades. Furthermore, the UK has some of the most sophisticated health data, analysis, planning and programme implementation systems in the world, and is at the forefront of implementing community-wide telehealth, telecare and mobile health systems, which promise to transform health care in the coming years.
Underpinning these many specialities across the health care sector, is the NHS. For over 60 years it has been at the forefront of UK health care delivery, research and training. Its clinical services and health care institutions, such as Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, Moorfield’s Eye Hospital, Imperial College Hospital and The Royal Marsden Hospital, to name just a few, are globally recognised. They are reinforced by first-class education, training and regulatory systems.
The UK has invested billions of pounds, constantly improving the quality of health care available to its citizens. All the while its health care provision remains one of the world’s most cost-effective — the result of intensive collaboration between the NHS, commercial health care companies and academia. The UK has a long track record of enhancing clinical services through analysis of how they are delivered and implementing solutions that provide better patient outcomes and improve efficiency. This, now more than ever, is internationally relevant.
Health care UK will act as a channel for international demand for the UK’s expertise. Headquartered within UKTI in London and drawing on UKTI’s network of professional advisers in more than 100 countries, it has an in-depth knowledge of, and extensive links into, the UK’s health sector. It will work with governments, businesses and health care providers across the world, guiding them to the right people and organisations and helping them to build lasting and fruitful partnerships.
The Global Health Policy Forum was grounded in the idea that innovation, and international collaborations to deliver powerful solutions, are the key to overcoming our shared challenges. I am delighted that, in Health care UK, the UK Government has invested in an initiative to bring together all of what the UK has to offer - and connect it to the world.
Lord Darzi of Denham is the UK Business Ambassador