Health is one of the World Economic Forum’s key focus areas. The Forum recognises health as an important part of long-term economic development and engages its members and other stakeholders to advocate health as an investment. Healthcare involves multiple stakeholders – intergovernmental organisations, NGOs, local governments, academic experts, private organizations, and others, all of which are trying to contribute to health and to ensure availability and quality of health services.
Every year, an estimated 14 million people die prematurely in developing countries from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as preventable heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancers and asthma, with major negative consequences for socioeconomic development. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this is largely a result of increased exposure to tobacco use, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol, as well as inadequate health care services.
The WHO estimates that around 80% of these deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries that also have to deal with the burden of infectious diseases, maternal and perinatal conditions and nutritional deficiencies.
The World Economic Forum fosters collaboration between key stakeholders in global health, including the WHO, by engaging them in dialogues at its annual and regional events. The Forum raises awareness about the impact of chronic disease globally, advocates for workplace health promotion to be considered as both an economic and social win-win investment, and provides practical tools and solutions to support organizations developing their workplace health programmes. For more information, please click here.
Workplace Health Promotion (WHP) programmes, promoting physical activity and healthy dietary habits, are effective in improving health-related outcomes such as obesity and diabetes as well as decreasing cardiovascular disease risk factors. Enhancing employee productivity, improving corporate image and moderating medical care costs are some of the reasons that motivate employers to initiate and invest in WHP programmes. Unhealthy diets and excessive energy intake, physical inactivity and tobacco use are major risk factors for NCDs. Reaching over 50% of the world population, employers can improve productivity and contribute to the economy, while promoting health and well-being for all.
On World Heart Day, the World Heart Federation and World Economic Forum encouraged employers and employees to promote a heart-healthy workplace by adopting workplace-wellness programmes. Such programmes (e.g.the promotion of physical activity via gym memberships or cycle to work schemes, or encouraging employees to stop smoking via the adoption of smoke-free workplaces or the provision of smoking-cessation programmes) encourage employees to modify their behaviour.