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World Population Day spotlights the increasing need for universal access to healthcare

by Mary Devereux, Senior Advisor, SEC Newgate Greater China.

Today, 11th July, is the United Nations World Population Day.


In 2011, the world reached a population of 7 billion. This year, the World Health Organization predicts the number will hit 8 billion, despite the impact of Covid. Many people will admire the advancements in health that have extended lifespans and reduced maternal and child mortality. Others will look to technological innovations that have eased our lives.


The WHO believes that in an ideal world, 8 billion people means 8 billion opportunities for healthier societies empowered by rights and choices. Of course, this progress has not been universal. Longevity is largely reserved for people from more advanced nations.


In a paper published earlier this year, McKinsey Health Institute states that over the next decade humanity could add as many as 45 billion extra years of higher-quality life. This equates to about six years per person on average - and substantially more in some countries and populations.


This is ambitious, but McKinsey Health believes that 45% of the global disease burden could be addressed by applying already proven interventions. Its paper identifies six material shifts in societal mindsets and actions:


  1. Invest more. We agree. Health spending should be viewed as an investment, not a cost. This is a great space for Private Public Partnerships to invest more in areas like health education, nutrition, basic research, consumer products, financial services, and technology.

  2. Improve measurement of health and produce better data health. Yes, we concur as this should result in better health resource allocation which requires accurate measurement.

  3. Scale what works. There is immense potential in applying proven strategies and interventions across countries, ecosystems, and populations. According to McKinsey Health, scaling known interventions could reduce the global disease burden by an impressive 40%.

  4. Innovate, innovate, innovate. Business models, government policies, pharmaceuticals, clinical standards, mobile apps, medical products, process improvements, and novel technology applications – we need them all.

  5. Unleash the full potential of all industries. Health is a relevant topic for all employers— not just healthcare companies. At SEC Newgate we strongly believe in the power of workplace wellness and are continually looking at new ways we can build on this - be it a hybrid way of working, better leave policies, or ergonomically designed offices.

  6. Empower individuals to be in charge of their own health. Yes, individual behaviour is the biggest driver of health in many countries, and consumers are already expecting more support from their healthcare providers and insurers. We have already seen an explosion in healthcare apps from insurers, including Emma from AXA, an Asia-wide digital concierge which allows customers to submit claims, access in-person and telehealth consultation and, more importantly, obtain a wealth of information on diet, exercise and mind health. AIA has, of course, embraced Vitality to bring wellness solutions to its customers, while Ping An’s Good Doctor, now known as Ping An Healthcare and Technology, allows Chinese consumers to receive consultation, referrals, and a wealth of knowledge.

World Population Day shines a spotlight light on how an increasing and ageing population has far-reaching implications - particularly on healthcare. A global increase in people on our planet critically affects universal access to healthcare. We believe the public and private sectors have an opportunity to address the needs of the underserved by understanding the issues behind the increasing numbers of people on our planet. If you want to know more about how our corporate healthcare team can support your work in creating communications around your thought leadership in wellness, healthtech, public health issues, healthcare policy and advocacy, and products and services, please contact us at hello@secnewgate.hk