RIYADH: Industry leaders and experts gathered at the Global Health Summit this week to highlight promises to revolutionize the view of aging, life expectancy and health science.
Issues related to chronic diseases and socio-economic disparities due to inequality and other factors will be among the topics discussed at the event organized by the Hevolution Foundation and which will be held in Riyadh until Thursday.
Princess Haya bint Khaled, the foundation’s vice president of strategy and development, participated in a first-day session titled “Advocating for a Health-Driven Society: What Now, What Next.”
She was joined by Tareef Alaama, Deputy Minister of Health for Curative Services, Peter Fedichev, co-founder of Gero, Henk Heidekamp, Director General of the European Research Institute on the Biology of Aging, and Jerry McLaughlin, CEO of Life Biosciences.
This conference was one of many aimed at fostering meaningful discussions and encouraging progress, investment and international cooperation.
Princess Haya said: “The foundation has a very simple, clear and impactful message: (we work to) extend healthy lifespans for the benefit of all humanity and develop breakthroughs or innovative tools to combat against the diseases that we are seeing on the rise. »
Regarding Saudi Arabia’s role in extending healthy human lifespan, in line with Vision 2030, Alaama said: “Human health comes first in Vision 2030. Among the promises is that to increase the life expectancy of individuals compared to what it was in 2016., i.e. (from) 74 to 80 years by 2030.
“To achieve this, we developed a strategy that looks at scientific methods and data-driven methods…we use data, we collect statistics, we go into great detail, looking at the variability of aging between sectors and regions. »
Ultimately, this would mean that interventions could be designed and implemented in the most effective way possible to increase human life expectancy, he added.
Examples of measures taken by the Ministry of Health include examining modifiable risk factors and treating hypertension, both of which could extend life expectancy by two years.
The panel also examined the challenges facing the healthcare sector as it moves towards increasing lifespans. One of these problems was the lack of funding for the biology of aging.
Heidekamp said: “In the Netherlands we have the necessary foundations for cancer and Alzheimer’s research, but there is no funding for aging. »
The Hevolution Foundation is committed to advancing the science of aging by investing up to $1 billion annually in aging research and health science.
It recently announced the selection of 11 Saudi researchers in the field of aging sciences who will receive two-year grants worth SR10 million ($2.6 million), making the program one of the initiatives most effective in the field of aging in the Kingdom.
The joint development of diagnostic and therapeutic products has been identified as another challenge.
Mehmood Khan, CEO of the foundation, said: “As a patient, as a consumer, getting your aging biology tested determines not only the age of the body, but also the age of the various organ systems in your body. »
But he stressed that growing old is not that simple.
“Not everyone ages in the same way. So going to a doctor and saying “just tell me how old I am” is way too simplistic.
“We all know people who, for example, have a very young body but an aged mind. We know others whose bodies are old, but whose minds are still very young.
“We are currently evaluating the best technologies in the world, bringing them all under one roof to see what it looks like,” Khan added.