Pre-pandemic, many healthcare systems around the world were already struggling to contain costs and meet the increasing demand for healthcare caused by aging populations and a rise in chronic diseases. COVID-19 further worsened these problems and starkly exposed weaknesses in health systems.
While it is impossible to prevent all health crises, increased efforts should be made to ensure that health systems are able to continually respond to the needs of the populations they serve, whilst also being able to prepare for, adapt to, learn, transform and recover from shocks and accumulated stresses.
Against this backdrop, AstraZeneca partnered with the London School of Economics and the World Economic Forum early in the pandemic to establish the Partnership for Health System Sustainability and Resilience (PHSSR). The latter is a global collaboration between academic, non-governmental, life sciences, healthcare and business organizations to build knowledge and guide action through research reports that offer evidence-informed policy recommendations for healthcare system reform. At present, PHSSR is active in over 30 countries.
The Belgian research report, written by Prof. Lieven Annemans from Ghent University, is currently being finalized. Relying on a framework developed by London School of Economics, it examines the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and risks of Belgium’s healthcare system across seven domains. In developing the report, Prof. Annemans sought the input from a broad array of stakeholders, including sickness funds, policymakers, representatives of patients, healthcare professionals and hospitals. A public launch event on February 13 in Brussels will unveil the key research findings and policy recommendations.
The report represents a first milestone on the journey towards a more sustainable and resilient health system. As a next step, the research must be turned into concrete actions. This requires a strong collaborative approach among all relevant players. As part of our commitment to tackling the biggest sustainability challenges of our time, AstraZeneca Belux is keen to bring together different stakeholders to co-create solutions for health system reform. The multi-stakeholder panel debate during the PHSSR launch event is one of many initiatives we aim to undertake in this respect.
The pandemic is a reminder of what can be achieved when working together towards a common goal. We must leverage this collaborative spirit to ensure the Belgian healthcare system is well-equipped to address today’s challenges and thrive in the face of tomorrow’s unforeseen crises. With preparations for the 2024 elections under way and the lessons from the COVID-19 crisis fresh in our minds, the time to act is now. Our health and, thus, our economic prosperity are at stake.
I invite you to join me during the PHSSR Belgium launch event and be part of the discussion on the future of our health system.