Major Report On World Health Presented At The 2002 World Economic Forum

January 30, 2002

Dr. Mehmet Oz, Member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Leaders of Tomorrow, to Present

New York, NY, (January 30, 2002)— For the past three decades, the World Economic Forum has brought together the world’s most eminent leaders in business, government, and academia to create partnerships that are committed to improving the state of the world. Its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland draws leaders from throughout the world for high-level seminars and influential action reports that affect international policies on the areas they analyze, ranging from poverty to business opportunities to AIDS and other global issues. For the first time in 31 years, the World Economic Forum (WEF) is moving its annual meeting, to take place from January 31 to February 4, 2002, from Davos to New York City, in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11. “The Forum is convinced that in these extraordinary times, New York City is the most appropriate location for this event,” notes the organizers of the WEF meeting. A major focus of the 2002 meetings will be global health, an issue close to the heart of Mehmet C. Oz, MD, associate professor of surgery at Columbia University and director of the Cardiovascular Institute at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. Through his participation in previous meetings of the World Economic Forum, Dr. Oz was elected a Global Leader for Tomorrow, a select group of individuals under the age of 40 who have been singled out by the WEF for their challenging and innovative ideas. “I originally participated in the World Economic Forum as a Columbia University faculty member, mainly because of my joint initiatives in mechanical heart support and integrative medicine,” Dr. Oz says. “But the bigger topic I have addressed is health care and technology, and specifically, the economics of this issue. How do we get the most value for the money we are putting into health care? We now have advanced medical technology; the question we must ask is, which technology yields the greatest benefit for society?” As head of the health initiative of the Global Leaders for Tomorrow, Dr. Oz has spearheaded formulation of a major policy report to be presented at the 2002 meetings. The overall document is titled “The Possible Human,” with one chapter titled “America’s Approach,” which addresses health policy in the United States and stresses the need for partnerships between the private and public sectors to break through this country’s “fragmented approach to health,” and provides specific recommendations for “a more holistic approach to the public and private sector’s approach to health,” according to the authors. An executive summary, created jointly by participants from the Scottish Council Foundation, the Columbia University Alliance of Health Management (Schools of Medicine, Public Health and Business), the World Economic Forum’s Global Leaders for Tomorrow, the Foundation for the Advancement of Cardiac Therapies, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cigna Health Insurance and Merck, argues for consideration of health as “not just a right,” but as “an economic resource that should be nurtured.” “Investing for health, rather than wasting money on health, means thinking of healthcare dollars in terms of investment, because a healthy population is more fulfilled and works at a higher level,” says Dr. Oz, who holds an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in addition to his MD degree. “The document states that for every dollar that U.S. businesses spend on health benefits, they lose three dollars in terms of productivity,” he continues. “So industry is losing far more money because of what can’t be produced due to illness and health-related problems than the amount they are paying for healthcare.” The report emphasizes the importance of treating the causes of illness, including far-ranging concerns such as truancy in schools and poor public transportation. One key principle of “The Possible Human” is partnering the private and public sectors in addressing global—and local—health policy. Using the example of obesity as a test case of public-private sector partnership, the “Possible Human” document cites Philadelphia, reportedly the most obese city in the country. “Philadelphia had an initiative to lose 76 tons of weight—a very fair goal,” Dr. Oz says. To achieve it, local business joined with government to promote weight loss as a community endeavor. The effort is proving to be a model for other communities seeking to improve health and prevent illness. “By mobilizing the private sector to appreciate the significance of health in their communities – both for their employees and in the community at large—we can create a bottom-up, grassroots effort that has the potential to improve the health of all Americans,” Dr. Oz says. “The Possible American” is a blueprint that political leaders, community activists, and business leaders can use in launching this effort. We hope it will be embraced by partnerships of all of these groups.”


Scottish Council Foundation

This Edinburgh-based policy institute promotes independent thinking in public policy and produced a similar Scottish version of this monograph in 1998. The Foundation has been successfully working with government agencies, business and the general public since then to implement this approach in Scotland. Further relevant publications are Promise and Practice - will government policy improve our health? and The Possible Scotland (in press), which captures views of ordinary Scots about their vision for the future.

World Economic Forum and Global Leaders of Tomorrow (GLT)

The World Economic Forum is an independent and impartial organization committed to improving the state of the world. It serves its members and society by creating the foremost global partnership of business, political, intellectual and other leaders of society to define and discuss key issues on the global agenda. The GLT network represents the new generation of global decision-makers from business, government, politics and civil society that have demonstrated responsible leadership vis-à-vis society, environment and socially responsible businesses.

In line with the Forum’s commitment to improving the state of the world, the Global Leaders for Tomorrow initiative was formed in 1992 to provide an informal, efficient framework for an ongoing exchange of opinions on strategic issues of concern to the younger generation of decision-makers. The uniqueness of the GLT network ensures that key challenges are addressed in an integrated and interdisciplinary way, drawing on the diversity, creativity and dynamic of the GLT network.

Columbia Alliance

This multidisciplinary health care management research and education centre is a Partnership around the three founding schools (College of Physicians & Surgeons, Mailman School of Public Health and the School of Business) working in conjunction with an industry advisory group drawn from across the health care sector. The partnership supports multidisciplinary research that (1) results in new conceptual frameworks, tools and insights that will inform the critical decisions facing senior health care managers and policy-makers, and (2) provides the full spectrum of knowledge and skills needed to prepare students to become effective leaders, builders, managers and analysts in an increasingly complex environment.

Foundation for the Advancement of Cardiac Therapies

FACT is an independent 501c3 foundation whose mission is to proactively evaluate, research, and treat heart disease by capitalizing essential medical therapies and leveraging public policy opportunities.


GLT, New York City, WEF, World Economic Forum