​3rd World Health Forum advances pandemic preparedness

On November 4th, the 3rd World Health Forum commenced in Beijing, organized by Tsinghua University and co-hosted by Tsinghua Vanke School of Public Health (VSPH) and Tsinghua Institute for Healthy China. The Forum, themed "Preparing the World for the Next Pandemic," attracted prominent scholars, international organization leaders, non-governmental organization heads, global experts, and industry leaders from various corners of the world. They gathered to draw lessons from past pandemics, enhance international and domestic public health systems, and provide robust technological support for future global health.

Distinguished guests attending the Opening Ceremony included Lei Haichao, vice minister and deputy secretary of the Leading Party Members’ Group of the National Health Commission; Sun Yang, deputy head of the National Desease Control and Prevention Administration; Wang Xiqin, president of Tsinghua University; Margaret Chan, former director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) and founding dean of VSPH; Wang Shi, founder and honorary chairman of China Vanke Co., Ltd, and president of Vanke Foundation; Guo Yanhong, director of the Medical Emergency Division of the National Health Commission; Zhong Dongbo, secretary of the Party Committee of the Beijing Municipal Health Commission; Liang Wannian, executive vice dean of VSPH and dean of Tsinghua Institute of Healthy China; and Harvey Fineberg, co-chair of the VSPH International Academic Advisory Board, and president of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

The Opening Ceremony also welcomed notable representatives from domestic and international research and education institutions, provincial and municipal health systems, medical institutions, foreign embassies in China, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations. Over 150 representatives from Tsinghua University, including faculty and students, attended the event. Wang Hongwei, vice president of Tsinghua University, presided over the Opening Ceremony.

In his opening remarks, Tsinghua University President Wang Xiqin highlighted that while academic disciplines and professional roles become increasingly specialized, the challenges facing humanity are becoming more interconnected. Universities, with a focus on integrating talent cultivation and technological innovation, and serving as an important platform for international exchanges and cooperation, must embrace changes to be prepared for addressing unforeseen major risks. He emphasized the importance of focusing on real-world problems to improve the quality of talent self-cultivation, embracing a systemic approach for ongoing university innovation, and actively promoting international exchange and cooperation with a global perspective. Wang reiterated that following the principle of putting people and their lives first, Tsinghua University has been committed to the development of public health and the showcasing of Chinese expertise in public health. He conveyed the hope that this forum delves into global public health issues, and promotes the integration and collaborative innovation across the entire spectrum of universities, research institutions, governments, professional organizations, healthcare systems, and supply chain companies. It is hoped that all parties, guided by the principle of building a community with a shared future for mankind, can shoulder their historical responsibilities and meet the challenges of our times, and strive to build a healthy China, achieve "Universal Health Coverage", and promote the building of a global community of health for all.

Wang Shi highlighted Vanke Group's cultural values and their connection to public health safety and global climate change. He underlined the strong bond between Vanke Group and Tsinghua University, both committed to promoting green and low-carbon development and supporting public health development. Through VSPH, Vanke aims to continue contributing to scientific research related to human health and improving living environments to safeguard public health.

Margaret Chan emphasized the active exploration of pandemic response and challenges, not merely reflecting on past hardships but also embarking on a path that focuses on strengthening prevention, building resilience, and unwavering dedication to fairness. She outlined three key aspects to address pandemic challenges, including building a robust and adaptable healthcare system, advancing global cooperation, improving the global health governance framework, and harnessing scientific innovation for enhanced monitoring and precision.

Lei Haichao emphasized the importance of a strong public health system as a defense against major epidemics. He called for the integration of medical and health prevention, stronger links between disease control departments and communities, and improvements in early detection and monitoring. Lei also highlighted the need for increased investment in healthcare innovation and the development of a comprehensive legal framework in public health.

Following the subsequent plenary session, discussions revolved around the forum's theme, including the summary of experiences in pandemic response, sharing of preparedness actions by various countries, methods of global collaboration, and innovative health strategies of different nations. The plenary session was moderated by Liang Wannian, executive vice dean of VSPH and dean of Tsinghua Institute of Healthy China.

Sun Yang shared China's experiences in pandemic prevention and discussed new developments in monitoring, early warning, and emergency response in four aspects. He proposed four key aspects for effective pandemic prevention and control, including promoting high-quality disease control, expanding monitoring and early warning, improving plans and preparedness, and establishing a global system for responding to public health emergencies.

Christopher Elias, President of Global Development Division of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, based on the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board's work and annual report, issued four calls to address the global pandemic preparedness challenges: strengthening the monitoring and accountability framework, improving funding through corporate partnerships for sustainability and equity, enhancing collaborative research and innovation, and promoting cross-departmental coordination and cooperation.

Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of the Lancet, stressed in his keynote speech video that pandemics are a result of complex interactions between biology and society, requiring an interdisciplinary approach for understanding. He also highlighted the importance of high-quality public health systems, improving population health, and reducing societal inequalities to address concurrent epidemics effectively.

Margaret Chan reflected on her experiences in the field of public health and presented the following key points: firm and robust policy support is essential to swiftly respond to public health crises; strong scientific research provides the basis for effective actions; a resilient public health system is critical for achieving universal health coverage; and nurturing young leaders in public health is a vital force to address future public health challenges.

Harvey Fineberg emphasized the importance of balancing national interests and global equity in pandemic preparedness, urging discussions and resource allocation for greater equality. He also stressed the responsibility of scientists to provide honest, evidence-based information to the public and highlighted the long-term investment in health and human security as a priority.

The forum includes a plenary session, three sub-forums, and a youth forum over two days, addressing the pressing concerns amidst the evolving global health landscape. Over 150 guests from 14 countries and regions deliver 42 high-level keynote speeches and participating in engaging discussions.

About the World Health Forum

The World Health Forum was initiated by Tsinghua University in 2021. It provides a platform for dialogue, academic exchange and experience sharing, to strengthen capacity building and system building of global health governance, and to contribute to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the building of a global community of health for all.

Editor: Li Han

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