Soundbites: World Health Summit 2015




More than 1,500 people attended the 2015 World Health Summit, held at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin, Germany, from 11-13 October.

The following excerpts are taken from various presentations. Videos of the full presentations are available at:, which should be referred to for direct quotations.

Opening ceremony: 11 October

“Cross-border health risks call for new forms of international collaboration”

Tilo Kinner, Department of Economic Affairs and Sustainable Development, Federal Foreign Office, Germany

“As we learned from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, what begins as a local, restricted health problem can quickly spread to have a global effect.”

“For many years to come we will have to deal with the long-term impact of this public health crisis.”

“In the past, we failed to build up capacities for a fast and full crisis response. This is our job today.”

“The UN and the World Health Organization have a key role to play. Germany advocates strengthening international health institutions, especially the WHO.”

“In the OECD, losses caused by antimicrobial resistance will reach Euro 3 billion by 2050 if we do not adopt counter measures today and work in a joint, globally coordinated way.”

“We will only make progress if we get human, veterinary and environmental researchers to work together in a One Health approach.”

“We propose that all antibiotics be available only on prescription.”

[Following the Ebola epidemic]… “Germany will make Euro 600 million available to strengthen health systems in developing countries, but national governments must take the lead.”

[Countries affected by emerging diseases such as Ebola]… “must provide full transparency on the domestic public health situation to enable a fully-informed international response.”

“The International Health Regulations (IHR) must be implemented and adherence must be improved. National capacities for im0lementing the IHR must be strengthened and coordinated.”

Hermann Gröhe, Federal Minster of Health, Germany

“Part of the problem in this world is that leaders over-promise and under-perform.”

“During 200-2015, the period of implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, maternal and child mortality fell at the fastest rate in recorded history.”

“With regards to HIV/IADS, in 2014 we passed the point where more people are receiving anti-retroviral therapies than there are new infections.”

“Now we have the Sustainable Development Goals. Number 3, with 169 targets, specifically focuses on health. We need to make sure world leaders keep their promises.”

“Since the turn of the century, new threats to health such as population ageing, rapid urbanization, globalized marketing of unhealthy products and a rise of non-communicable diseases are re-defining what economic progress means.”

“The time has come for a comprehensive, integrated system of universal health coverage. We must make sure that people are not denied access to care or life-saving commodities just because they are poor.”

“New threats to public health do not fit the traditional model of the biomedical sciences and go beyond the sovereign domain of nations. Many new threats to health are transboundary.”

“We must prioritize pro-poor universal health coverage to tackle poverty.”

Margaret Chan, Director-general, World Health Organization

“In Germany we spend 11% of our GDP on healthcare, some Euro 4,000 per person per year, and costs are growing faster than inflation. This cannot go on forever.”

“If we don’t find a solution for tackling non-communicable diseases, then we threaten the chances of successfully achieving the Sustainable Debelopment Goals.”

“Health is related to the economy; the economy to health. Healthy people work productively.”

Birgit König, Allianz

“Academia must work closely with other stakeholders and academies must leverage their independent position to bring together expertise to influence policy.”

“From good policy and good science can come great results.”

Victor Dzau, President, US National Academy of Medicine

The Post-2015 Development Agenda – 12 October

“There are 5,000 new vaccines and medicines in development, 70% of which are new in their class.”

“Among our main priorities should be policies that foster innovation, for example advances in privacy policies so we can do what we need to do with ‘big data’.”

Freda Lewis Hall, Chief medical officer, Pfizer Inc., USA

“We must leave no-one behind. By 2030, no SDG target should be considered met unless it is met for all socio-economic groups.”

“Delay will be costly for the SDG agenda. We can’t afford a slow start. If the financing is not there, attainment might already be out of reach by 1 January 2016.”

Debra Jones, Director, Save the Children, USA

“More than 30 vaccine doses are administered worldwide every second. No other health intervention can reach so many people and have such a great effect.”

“In parts of California, vaccination levels are as low as rates in South Sudan.”

Dagfin Høybråten, Chair of the board, GAVI, the vaccine alliance, Switzerland

Ebola: Assessment, Treatment and Prevention – 13 October

“We need to share data, experiences, expertise and lessons learned. This is an international diplomacy issue.”

Martial Ikounga, African Union

“If another outbreak were to occur tomorrow, would we be better equipped to deal with it? The development of health systems to deal with epidemics is vital, but so is the quality of those systems to respond effectively.”

“An Ebola virus had been developed in public labs, but there was no financial incentive to take it forward. If we put patients ahead of profits, we could have had the Ebola vaccine ready before the outbreak.”

Florian Westphal, Managing director, Médecines Sans Frontières, Germany

“We need clearer rules, clearer roles and responsibilities, and accountability. For example, do not close borders, as this isolates countries and makes mobilization of resources more difficult. Research needs also need to be coordinated, with rapid sharing of information and data in real time.”

Suerie Moon, Research director and co-chair, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, USA

Closing ceremony – 13 October

“We need to provide interdisciplinary training. Our medical and veterinary doctors do not talk to each other. We are investing in changing that to tackle zoonoses.”

Richard Sezibera, Secretary general, East African Community, Rwanda

“There is a high rate of post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression among migrants. Less well known, however, is the attitude of the host community that can often cause much higher than average rates of depression and schizophrenia. For example, among communities of African origin in Europe there may six times higher rates of schizophrenia.”

Sir Robin Murray, Professor, psychosis studies, King’s College London, UK

“The Ebola outbreak told us that we need to build innovative partnerships. Business as usual will not take us far. We must bring communities to the centre – as happened in the AIDS epidemic. In the case of Ebola, the lack of trust killed more people than the virus itself.”

Luiz Loures, Deputy director general, UNAIDS, Switzerland

For other highlights of the 2015 World Health Summit, see the Twitter feed at #WHS2015:

The next edition of the World Health Summit will be a regional event in Geneva, Switzerland, on 19-21 April 2016, followed by the annual event again in Berlin on 9-11 October 2016.