As existing health risks surge and new ones emerge, humanity’s past successes in overcoming health challenges are no guarantee of future results. People’s health may be undermined not only by crises caused by infections or pandemics but also by natural or man-made catastrophes. Such events would require similar planned, timeous and effective responses from governments and health experts – including the medtech industry.
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed new vulnerabilities resulting from changing social, environmental, demographic and technological conditions. These threaten gains in health, wellness and prosperity that have been enabled by medical advances and health systems over the last century. Now, health systems around the world are under immense pressure and risk, being seen as unfit for purpose. Health nationalism – manifested in competition for health resources – is on the rise, as leaders prioritise the interests of their own nations rather than measures that recognise global interconnectivity with one nation’s health having the potential to affect the entire world.
The significant role of socio-political factors in overcoming threats caused by infectious agents has become evident. A lack of information, the circulation of misinformation and hesitancy in relation to behavioural and biomedical responses (including vaccines) have been features of the COVID-19 pandemic.