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Technologies Are Transforming Healthcare

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People will live to the age of 140 within a few decades, hospitals will be transformed into mere casualty rooms as patient self-management of health becomes the norm, 5G-connected ambulances will save millions of lives by accessing digitized trauma data and performing procedures in transit, experts told the World Economic Forum.

These exciting developments are coming soon. However, cancers are already being detected months earlier than before, thanks to small, wearable health-monitoring devices. Computer vision is allowing the visually impaired to “see”; dyslexia sufferers are reading and surgeons are rehearsing complicated operations in a holographic-robotics environment.

“Technology and healthcare have long existed in their own metaphorical silos, but now these two worlds are colliding,” said Albert Bourla, Chief Operating Officer, Pfizer Inc. This collision means more and better medicines are being delivered faster to sick people, while biological sensors have dramatically improved diagnosis, he added. Also, predictive diagnosis brings preventive measures rather than reactive. Such dramatic transformation in the sector is having a major disruptive effect on healthcare stakeholders and their relationships, he said.

“Even the mundane – but vital – area of hospital administration is being transformed, with real-time interactive recording of patient outcomes dramatically reducing bureaucracy and costs,” noted Satya Nadella, Chief Executive Officer, Microsoft Corp. Nadella said the artificial intelligence techniques working with data enable medical scientists to “stand on the shoulder of giants” as they can instantly access best-case history. This resolves the impossible task of practitioners keeping up with new developments and removes the problem of medical students’ knowledge becoming “outdated” on the day they graduate.

While the new technology may be dazzling, “the focus of healthcare must be on the patient,” emphasized Michael F. Neidorff, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Centene Corporation. Care will become increasingly personalized as the particular, often unique, issues of individuals are identified. Doctors will remain essential in detailed diagnosis and care regimes.

“Chronic diseases are the leading cause of morbidity in the world, accounting for more than 60% of all deaths. Yet most of these diseases are preventable and many are reversible with accurate and early diagnosis,” said Rajeev Suri, President and Chief Executive Officer, Nokia Corporation. Nokia is working on non-invasive, wearable devices that will continuously monitor vital signs – such as cortisol and glucose levels – and immediately pick up irregularities. Millions upon millions of lives can be saved, Suri said. He sees the collection of this personal data as filling the void between medical consultations, eliminating the need for repeated blood testing, for example.

Technological innovation is costly and the question of affordability and a possible widening of inequalities in healthcare provision was raised. Neidorff said this underlines the need “to recognize healthcare as a fundamental human right”. The debate has to move in the direction of political policy to ensure that everyone can benefit. The solution to the affordability issue lies with both government and the private sector.

Other speakers underscored how much money can be saved by the new technology-driven approach, freeing funds for a broad-based healthcare system. One example is early intervention in diabetes cases eliminating 700,000 emergency room visits and 340,000 hospital admissions a year in the United States. This would mean a saving of $47 billion.

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UN sounds alarm as Venezuelan refugees and migrants passes three million mark

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The number of refugees and migrants who have left Venezuela worldwide has now reached three million, the two main United Nations agencies advocating for them announced on Thursday, flagging the need to increase support for the countries which are hosting large numbers of displaced Venezuelans.

According to the UN office for humanitarian coordination (OCHA), most of the 3 million are currently hosted by countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, accounting for about 2.4 million refugees and migrants from Venezuela. Colombia has the highest number with over one million, followed by Peru with half a million, Ecuador with some 220,000, and Argentina with 130,000.

In addition to South American countries, countries in Central America and the Caribbean also recorded increasing arrivals of refugees and migrants from Venezuela. Panama, for example, is now hosting 94,000 Venezuelans.

Commending these countries’ “open-door policy,” Eduardo Stein, who heads the joint effort on behalf of refugee agency UNHCR and migration agency IOM for Venezuelan refugees and migrants, noted however that “their reception capacity is severely strained,” and is “requiring a more robust and immediate response from the international community if this generosity and solidarity are to continue.”

UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie, noted during a recent visit to Peru, that every Venezuelan she had met described the situation in their country as “desperate,” adding that she heard “stories of people dying because of a lack of medical care and medicine… and tragic accounts of violence and persecution”.

With these rising numbers of families fleeing Venezuela, their basic needs have increased, along with the communities hosting them.

Governments in the region are leading the humanitarian response and working to coordinate efforts based on the Quito Declaration for example, adopted in September and which has been an important step towards a regional approach to scale up the response and harmonize policies.

To support this response, the UN and its partners have appealed for US$220 million to address the needs of 406,000 people across Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil. The UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) allocated $17.2 million earlier this year.

In addition, a humanitarian regional response plan is underway to be launched in December, with a focus on four areas: direct emergency assistance, protection, socio-economic and cultural integration and capacity-building for governments of receiving countries.

The governments from the region are scheduled to meet again in Quito on 22 and 23 November to continue moving the regional process further.

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Globalization Cannot Be Stopped – but It Can and Should Be Better

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Global GDP has doubled since 1990, but further global integration, while inevitable, must be accompanied by structural reforms that enable greater international cooperation as well as policies that support more inclusive, sustainable societies. This was the finding from the opening plenary of the Annual Meeting of the Global Future Councils which began today in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The purpose of the Annual Meeting of the Global Future Councils is to convene the world’s best network of experts to identify new ideas and models that can be applied to critical global challenges. In his opening remarks, Børge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum, told participants: “Globalization cannot be stopped, but it can be improved. It should be more inclusive, sustainable and job creating. We need to stop seeing trade as a weapon but instead see it as a strong, positive force for inclusive, poverty-eradicating growth.”

“Globalization’s future is no longer about physical trade. It is about knowledge, information and technology. Digital trade already accounts for 12% of international trade, and data flows are predicted to increase another fivefold by 2022. The result will inevitably be not less globalization but more, different, globalization,” he continued.

His Excellency Mohammad Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future of the United Arab Emirates, in his opening address told participants: “The future belongs to those who can imagine it, shape it and implement it. In today’s world, governments cannot create the future singularly; it is important to involve everyone from the private sector to youth, international partners and others in creating policies.”

On the power of the emerging technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to bring about a more inclusive and sustainable future, Al Gergawi said: “The collective mind provided by technology is much smarter than the individual mind. The wisdom of the crowd is a common saying; however, this saying is multiplied a thousand times when talking about and using technology.”

In a special televised session to mark the beginning of the meeting, Miroslav Lajcak, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Slovakia, told participants that any global architecture in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution needed to be shaped by greater cooperation between nations. “In my 30 years as a diplomat I see less and less dialogue. Even when leaders speak these days there are more monologues and less willingness to accept that they do not own the truth. What is needed is a platform where leaders can discuss openly and honestly where our planet is heading.”

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Bali Conference discusses unlocking Industry 4.0 for Asia and the Pacific countries

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Organized by the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the first Regional Conference on Industrial Development opened today, with a focus on the evolving concept of Industry 4.0 and its impact on developing countries. Titled “Unlocking the Potential of Industry 4.0 for Developing Countries”, the Conference encouraged knowledge sharing to raise awareness about the challenges and opportunities of Industry 4.0, by promoting the sharing of good practices and lesson learned, and by identifying good policies and strategies. This will contribute to the implementation of Industry 4.0 and will strengthen the regional coordination within Asia and the Pacific.

On the sidelines of the Conference, Indonesian Minister of Industry Airlangga Hartanto and UNIDO Director General LI Yong signed the revised Country Programme, which reaffirmed the partnership commitment between the Government of Indonesia and UNIDO and which will help increase efficiency, effectiveness and funding possibilities. The revised Country Programme highlights the priorities of the Government, with the updated portfolio of ongoing and pipeline projects focusing, inter alia, on poverty alleviation, creative industries, innovation, quality standards, green industrial policy, water stewardship and Industry 4.0.

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