Innovating to solve for chronic disease burden even more important in a pandemic

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people with pre-existing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory disease – are more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the COVID-19 virus, including subsequent mortality.  Professor Christine Jenkins, a leading respiratory expert from The George Institute for Global Health (TGI), highlights that people with existing respiratory conditions do not appear to be "more vulnerable to contracting coronavirus, they are “more vulnerable to serious outcomes from it.”

Addressing COVID-19 has become a major focus of governments, healthcare systems and the innovation community around the world. And while it is important to facilitate the development of solutions to cope with the pandemic and its financial consequences, it's important not to lose the focus on innovating to address the growing and ongoing challenge of NCDs and injury. 

NCDs are the leading cause of death and disability worldwide, and four out of five people living with an NCD are in a low-middle income country (LMIC). The NCD burden is greatest in parts of the world that are under-resourced, where access to healthcare may be limited.  

The COVID-19 pandemic is also testing the capacity and resources of health systems around the world and highlighting how these systems can and need to be strengthened, to support healthcare workers and communities – especially those in LMIC, or under-resourced settings.  

To minimise the negative impact of infectious diseases now and in the future, we need to ensure the most at-risk people and parts of the world can access adequate healthcare, and those health systems are properly resourced. Health innovations can meet these needs.  

UNSW and TGI continue their commitment to improving the quality of life for people in Australia and around the world. To achieve this much needed social impact the two organisations have partnered again to deliver the Health10x program in 2020 to continue to address the rising burden of NCDs and save lives both during the current pandemic and beyond. The program supports health innovators Australia-wide by providing tailored business education, access to networks of both UNSW and TGI and leading industry experts. 

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