Uppsala Health Summit, 10–11 October 2017, at Uppsala Castle. Photo: Tor Johnsson

Uppsala Health Summit 2017:
Time for the world to meet on infectious disease threats 

10 – 11 October it is time again to welcome 200 decision makers and experts from health ministries, industry, academia, healthcare, NGO:s from 30 different countries to Uppsala castle for this year’s dialogue on how to make better use of our research and our innovations for better health and healthcare. It’s time for Uppsala Health Summit! Our focus this year is the global threats from zoonotic infectious diseases.

In Sweden, as well as worldwide, there is a strong concern about the growing costs for health. At the same time, innovations and research results that can reduce societies’ overall health budgets are often slowly adopted, or even rejected. The obstacles frequently lie outside medical or technical sciences. Budgets, organization, ethics, behaviours and traditions can be both obstacles and solutions. Uppsala Health Summit is the arena for frank discussions on how to overcome obstacles. An arena to which selected influencers from all over the world are invited.

Around eight years ago, the first seeds to Uppsala Health Summit started to grow in various Uppsala BIO settings, in meetings between SMEs, established companies, university researchers and healthcare. As our innovation support developed and improved, it was evident that bringing innovations to a market is far from enough if the actors on the market are not ready to use them. The network World Class Uppsala took the next step, commissioning Uppsala BIO to develop the pros and cons for an international arena of this type. After a multitude of interviews with possible delegates and stakeholders, Uppsala Health Summit launched its first meeting on ageing in 2014.

Uppsala Health Summit is gradually gaining its reputation as a high-quality arena for a frank and solution oriented dialogue on the dismantling of identified obstacles. Tackling infectious disease threats is right into the heart and soul of Uppsala Health Summit’s mission, a field where we know a lot about what we need to do, but where organization, budgets, and traditions hamper us from doing it right.

Infectious diseases pose an increasing threat to health globally. Some 75 per cent of all new diseases are zoonotic, i.e. they transmit between animals and humans. Intense production systems – be it of palm oil or chicken meat – create uniform eco-systems, and contributes to a loss of nature’s sustainable protection against emerging infections. International travel increase the speed with which new infections can spread. Antimicrobial resistance adds a serious extra dimension.

In the event of an outbreak, vaccines and drugs are of course in dire need. This will not be enough, however.  A One Health perspective, that recognizes the connections between human, animal and environmental health, is increasingly gaining ground. The One Health approach underlines the need for different disciplines – veterinarians, public health experts, ecologists and social scientists – to carry out joint analysis and devise common strategies to prevent, detect and respond.

The discussions at the Summit will cover a broad variety of themes, ranging from how to incentivise livestock farmers to minimize risks behaviours, how to develop diagnostics for low-resource settings, how to make use of big data for detection, and how to use local community knowledge and tradition for a solid response in the event of an outbreak. Working cross-functionally is often easier to say than to do. And who pays when everyone benefits but no-one profits?

We are confident that our delegates will be very satisfied with the program. A successful Summit is however something more. A successful Summit is the start of a multitude of new relations and collaborations. On a very personal level, I am looking forward to the buzz and the lively discussions between the delegates. After a year of planning, mapping potential delegates, intense discussions in the programme committee, contacts with speakers, delegates, funders, publishing a pre-conference report… this is an immense pay-back. We can almost hear from the level of the buzz if we have done our job well.

None of this would be possible without the experts and researchers in different scientific fields that each year engage in the program building. Their knowledge, experience and networks are important. A key to the success of Uppsala Health Summit is their capacity to ask the right questions, in the right way, and their underlying commitment to improve health and healthcare.

Madeleine Neil
Project Manager,
Uppsala Health Summit

Uppsala Health Summit is a collaborative effort between the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), the National Food Agency, the Medical Products Agency, the National Veterinary Institute, Region Uppsala, Uppsala Monitoring Centre, Forte, Uppsala Municipality and the network World class Uppsala, led by Uppsala University.

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10 – 11 October Uppsala Health Summit gathered 200 decision makers and experts from 30 different countries in a discussion about global threats from zoonotic infectious diseases. 


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