MedaWeek Barcelona, The ‘Mediterranean Week of Economic Leaders’, the reference event to promote Mediterranean economies, business cooperation and the Mediterranean region around the world, in its 14th edition will hold for the first time the Mediterranean Healthcare Forum under the title: “Shaping the Future of Mediterranean Health and Healthcare”. It will take place next Thursday, November 19th from 12:00 to 13:30 in virtual format.

At the annual meeting of the key sectors of the Mediterranean economies (with the partnership of Malta Business), this year the health sector is particularly relevant as a result of the COVID-19, which places the focus on the health industry. Indeed, the inauguration of the Health Forum will feature an online intervention by Salvador Illa Roca, Minister of Health. The Forum, which is located in the heart of the Mediterranean health scene, will bring together virtually some of the public and business leaders from Europe, the Mediterranean and Africa in Barcelona for the exchange of knowledge, networking, closing the digital divide in the sector, and the joint creation of health systems for fragile states and vulnerable environments, among others.

The economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and protectionist measures have demonstrated the importance of supporting and promoting the regional health and pharmaceutical sector to achieve self-sufficient operation and management. Global health spending is projected to increase to $15 trillion by 2022. The Mediterranean region needs closer and more efficient cooperation between the public, private, and civil society sectors. Supporting the sector and investments to improve and achieve sustainability of health security in the Mediterranean will require strengthening economic integration.

The future in health is digital. Technologies have played and will play a key role in fighting the pandemic in countries with low infection and mortality rates. Preventive care and medical awareness, Telemedicine and Artificial Intelligence (AI), are some solutions for building sustainable systems: one of the biggest challenges in the Mediterranean region. The response with innovation and digitization will allow Mediterranean economies to have the opportunity to avoid phases of development that were previously unavoidable and to overcome the obstacles of the most entrenched systems“, explains Anwar Zibaoui, General Coordinator of ASCAME (Association of Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce and Industry). He continues: “The Mediterranean region needs a closer and more effective cooperation between the public, private and civil society sectors. The concept of public-private partnerships should evolve from traditional bilateral and transactional models to an ecosystem of alliances, where the type of cooperation changes over time and sustainability is a key objective. We have the opportunity to transform the systems in the emerging economies of the Mediterranean, to turn the region into a Center of Innovation in Health“.

How can the Mediterranean be transformed into a Centre for Innovation?

The figures show that the combination of growth and demographic changes will accelerate the challenges faced in the provision of health and medical care. By 2050, the world’s population will reach 10 billion, and two in five of these people will be 60 or older, including 434 million over 80. The forecast for global spending on health care reaches 13% of GDP in OECD countries by that year.

During the conference, the participating international experts will also discuss the impact of the pandemic, how to mitigate it and the challenge posed by the present and future issues of healthcare provision in the 21st century (capacity of medical infrastructure and measures to contain the spread of COVID-19), not forgetting the new approach to the Mediterranean health ecosystem, how it should reflect and implement its transformation along a series of parallel and complementary routes that include the creation of additional capacity, the reuse of existing capacity and healthcare innovation.

The Mediterranean can be transformed into a Health Innovation HUB to achieve sustainable health systems by following these guidelines:

  • Defining with accuracy and pressure the digital ecosystem of a health center: betting on digital health and telemedicine.
  • Boosting innovations in healthcare: new tools and applications to improve patients’ quality of life.
  • Listening to how emerging companies and entrepreneurs present their healthcare innovations and helping them connect with potential investors.
  • Paying attention to virtual reality as it is reinventing healthcare.

The post-COVID-19 ecosystem will also require agile models and reinvented strategies for the pharmaceutical industry, as well as intersectoral cooperation to overcome new health threats.