Global leaders -- from politicians and CEOs to academics and Nobel laureates -- will gather next week in Davos, Switzerland for the 44th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. At this year's forum, which runs from January 22-25 and will focus on the theme The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business, health and wellness will be a bigger focus of the conversation than ever before.
The forum's first-ever health summit will feature 25 sessions on topics including mental health, personalized medicine, health systems in emerging economies, and other pressing public health issues. More than 2,000 participants representing over 100 nations will take part in the discussions, many of which will focus on the intersection between health and broader economic and social issues.
“The time is right to elevate the conversation on health,” said Robert Greenhill, managing director and chief business officer at the Forum, in a press release. “For the past few years, the critical state of the financial system absorbed much of Davos participants’ attention. This year, there is a sense that the global economy is out of intensive care and embarking on rehabilitation. As we ask how metaphorically to improve the economy’s health, literally improving the population’s health is a good place to start.”
Mental health issues will be a particular focus of the conversations. The global costs of poor mental health and its repercussions are estimated at $16 trillion over the next 20 years, according to the World Economic Forum. The World Health Organization has estimated that at least 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression, and that it is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
But the participants at Davos won't just be talking about health -- they'll be actively encouraged to make healthy decisions of their own. As part of the Davos health challenge, participants will be encouraged to make healthy choices when it comes to food, sleep and physical activity, and to track their activity for the week using Jawbone fitness trackers.
Some of the week's notable speakers on technology and health-related panels include Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer; Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini; Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group; actor Matt Damon; and Peter Salovey, president of Yale University.
Arianna Huffington and Mika Brzezinski are taking The Third Metric on a 3-city tour: NY, DC & LA. Tickets are on sale now at thirdmetric.com.