2012 Kavli Prize Science Forum: How Science Can Address and Prevent Global Health Crises

International panel of four health policy experts will be moderated by BBC Science Journalist; Opening Address by Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister of Norway;
 Webcast from Oslo, Norway – 3 September 2012

August 30, 2012

What difference can science make to global health? On September 3, 2012, four international scientific experts will meet in Oslo, Norway to address this issue during the 2nd biennial Kavli Prize Science Forum. Titled “Science and Global Health: The Role of Basic Science,” the forum will feature an opening address by the Prime Minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg, followed by presentations and discussion with Rita Colwell (Former Director, National Science Foundation), Alice Dautry (President, Institut Pasteur), Harvey Fineberg (President, Institute of Medicine), and Kiyoshi Kurokawa (Chairman, Health and Global Policy Institute, Japan). BBC News science correspondent Pallab Ghosh will be program and panel moderator.

Kavli Prize Science ForumThe 2012 Kavli Prize Science Forum will be webacst live from the Gamle Festsal at the University of Oslo, Norway. (Credit: Scanpix)

The Kavli Prize Science Forum will be webcast live and allow questions to be submitted by viewers.

Health and disease have no borders. We often think of chronic illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes as conditions that affect only industrialized nations - thanks to modern medicine and longer life spans - but these are increasingly the major killers in poorer nations. Infectious illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, influenza, cholera, TB and malaria are frequently in the headlines for their toll on the world’s poorest, but with global transport these diseases can reach every country.

The global nature of disease calls for global solutions. So how can science help? The Forum will call on each speaker to pose radical suggestions for what science can do to improve health globally, and identify the obstacles that stand in the way.

"Science has enormous potential to improve global health. ...This Forum brings together some of the brightest minds to challenge the status quo and point the way forwards." – Pallab Ghosh, BBC News Science Correspondent and Panel Moderator

What are the most promising new technologies for prevention, diagnosis and treatment? Is lo-tech as good as hi-tech? How can we ensure that they are affordable? Many currently available vaccines, for example against cervical cancer, require cold storage and multiple dosing. How can they be implemented in resource-poor settings? Why are we not seeing greater demand to develop vaccines that can be transported at room temperature and require only one dose? How can we learn from past failures?

The Forum will hear how environmental technologies, including satellite imaging, may be harnessed to monitor and perhaps even predict outbreaks of infectious disease. Other areas of science, from genetics to epidemiology, are showing new trends in chronic diseases. For some countries, these new waves of disease could become a health tsumani – many times over. Can science provide the early warning needed for governments and health care providers to take action? There are many times when key barriers – institutional and attitudinal – have hindered efforts at dealing with disease epidemics. How can we do not waste precious time and money on early warning systems that go unheeded?

Pallab GhoshPallab Ghosh, BBC News science correspondent and panel moderator.

Science can provide more than just technical fixes. Experts can share their knowledge and experience with partners across the globe, assess risks, and advise on appropriate action. We often hear of collaborative networks that aim to achieve this. But are they working well or floundering? The Forum will hear about the gaps in knowledge and expertise that urgently need filling. Speakers will propose innovative policies and strategies for making sure that the best solutions reach local communities. Would it be better to spend resources on better communications about existing solutions than on attempts to develop alternatives? Is it simply a question of marketing?

“Science has enormous potential to improve global health, but those on the front line are often unaware of what science has to offer, or unable to exploit it fully. I believe that science could make a far greater contribution to global health through more open and honest debate about the problems that stand in the way,” says program and panel moderator, Pallab Ghosh. He added, “people are dying prematurely from diseases that we can prevent and treat. This Forum brings together some of the brightest minds to challenge the status quo and point the way forwards."

The Kavli Prize Science Forum is a biennial international forum to facilitate high-level, global discussion of major topics on science and science policy. Held in Oslo, Norway, the Forum is scheduled the same week as the ceremony and banquet honouring the year’s Kavli Prize laureates.

Along with being webcast live, this year’s forum will provide an opportunity for the audience and viewers to submit questions to the moderator for consideration.