Dear InterAcademy Partnership members,
There is a growing awareness that ‘health’ is much more than just ‘medicine’. This is one of the many reasons why our network of academies of medicine and academies of science with active medical sections has recently joined with the academies of sciences around the world to create one single ‘InterAcademy Partnership’ (IAP) andour old name was changed from the ‘InterAcademy Medical Panel’ to ‘IAP for Health’. We already benefit in many aspects from this unique and large academic network in our interdisciplinary programmes and, by joining forces, our activities are becoming more effective.
Many of the initiatives of IAP for Health actively promote an interdisciplinary concept. We can think, for example, of our activities on the social determinants of health, on urban health and on the One Health concept, among others. They are also in line with global thinking – such as the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 8th Global Conference on Health Promotion that took place in Finland in 2013, and the Rockefeller Foundation-Lancet Commission’s 2015 publication on Planetary Health. Indeed, a review of the 169 targets laid out as part of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda shows that those related to health are mapped not only to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #3, ‘Good Health and Well-being’, but are spread across many of the other SDGs, too, including, for example, SDG #2, ‘Zero Hunger’, SDG #4 ‘Quality Education’, SDG #6, ‘Clean Water and Sanitation’ and SDG #13 ‘Climate Action’.
Responding to these challenges, the ‘Health in All Policies’ (HiAP) approach requires, by necessity, contributions from many disciplines. In this regard, we are pleased to see academies coming together to implement the IAP project, ‘Improving Scientific Input to Global Policymaking: Strategies for Attaining the Sustainable Development Goals’ that has been running for more than a year now.
Indeed, as interdisciplinary think tanks, academies can play a critical and influential role in pursuing the HiAP agenda by publishing ‘Calls for Action’, which are brought to the attention of national governments and international organizations such as the UN and WHO, as well as the G7 and G20 summits of heads of state, giving science a voice in helping to set global agendas.
Such an interdisciplinary way of analysing problems and suggesting global solutions is also central to the work of the ‘M8 Alliance’ of Academic Health Centres, Universities and National Academies, of which IAP for Health is a founding member. The M8 Alliance also provides the intellectual support for the World Health Summit (WHS), held each October in Berlin, Germany, with annual WHS Regional Meetings in earlier in the year, and specific WHS expert meetings around the world. This year’s WHS in Berlin (15-17 October) is not only providing an opportunity for members of IAP for Health to meet, but will also be examining issues at the health-policy nexus and striving to develop solutions and recommendations to take to policy-makers.
Health is one of the most important topics for the individual person and for society at large, but ensuring adequate health for all is also one of the most complex challenges we face. Bringing together the full range of expertise among our membership is what makes IAP unique and we will use this strength to tackle the paradox that science makes greater and faster progress than ever in the history of humankind but less than half of the world’s population benefits from it. Academia has to take responsibility. IAP is ready to live up to this challenge.
Detlev Ganten and Depei Liu – Co-chairs, IAP for Health