United Nations Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia; Member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy
"We have all heard about bad science, bad pharma and big tobacco or alcohol, but what gets overlooked is the life and death impacts of bad policy-making. We must challenge our killer policies. The political barriers to improved health practices must come down."
President & CEO, Health Diplomats, Secretary-General of the Africa Medical Association, Former Secretary-General of the World Medical Association
"In public health, the goal is to prevent disease or premature death in a while population, whereas the goal of health care is to care for individuals. One of the greatest challenges of public health is to ensure that these two goals are not mutually exclusive . . . but access for individuals to health care services and options, such as harm reduction in alcohol, drugs and tobacco, should not be neglected."
Editor-in-Chief, The Lancet, formerly First-President of the World Association of Medical Editors
"Harm reduction science is arguably one of the best kept secrets in public health today. It has unquestionable potential to vastly improve how public, private and third party groups work together on preventable causes of disease and premature death linked to lifestyle."
Secretary General of Euroscience; former Director, Research Council of The Netherlands & Academy of Sciences of The Netherlands
"Our greatest challenge impacting human health and our eco-systems stems from the ongoing emergence of new viral strains and mutants as a consequence of globalisation, migration and travel. We need to ensure better global coordination of warning and control systems, vaccines and epidemiology while not letting the interests of agriculture and the drug industry trump those of public health."
President of the Brewers of Europe
"The alcohol challenge is not just having the simple rhetoric that alcohol is not tobacco and the target is harm not consumption per se, but also policies that are clearly targeted at alcohol abuse and the vulnerable minority who misuse alcohol, and whereby population level per capita consumption is not used as the ultimate indicator."
Deputy Minister of Corrections of Georgia
"Expecting to solve public health problems by enforcement-led policies can lead to a downward spiral of increased harm and ultimately death. Prisons reinforce lost health, social contacts and broken families. We need to balance active law enforcement with prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and harm reduction while never lowering our commitment to basic principles of human rights."
President of the European Brain Council, Consultant to the World Health Organisation & Adviser to the European Union
"The greatest public health challenge we face is threefold: getting medicines to market quicker without jeopardising their safety, balancing the co-morbidity and polypharmacy of an ageing population and dragging all stakeholders out of their silos to work together."
Centre for Population Health Science, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
"Countries should acknowledge addiction as a problem requiring equal status to cardio-respiratory diseases and cancer. The challenge is to formulate a policy of decriminalisation that is possible for politicians to implement. Getting people to listen is the trick."
Dean of Research at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
"The conglomerate of non-communicable diseases all related to eating habits and sedentary life-styles with its impact on health equity is the most important health challenge. Health research has to improve its ability to deliver better descriptions of complex problems to politics and society."
Former Europe Correspondent for the Irish Examiner and former President of the International Press Association
"Mental illness is our greatest challenge. 90% of mental illness sufferers kill themselves, more than murder and warfare combined. WHO says this accounts for 38% of all ill health in high-income countries where heart disease, stroke, cancer, lung disease and diabetes account for 22% combined. The cost of therapy is not high - about the same as 6 months’ treatment of diabetes. But less than 25% are treated compared to 90% of diabetics. Tackling mental health is our greatest individual & societal opportunity, also from an economic perspective."
Founder of the Fagherström Test for Nicotine Dependence, Recipient of the 1999 WHO Medal for outstanding work in tobacco control.
The biggest challenge is with tobacco because it causes the most harm. It also provides the biggest opportunity since nicotine by itself is not that harmful. Thus the challenge for the policy is to design systems so that people chose to use the least harmful tobacco and nicotine products. The effects of drugs and alcohol may be more disturbing for society, but in terms of monetary costs to society, death and disease, they fade in comparison to tobacco smoking.
Director, Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research, US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
"What this series of novel consultation events proves is that even in some of our most reputable scientific and policy enterprises we can get it wrong. The lights may seem to be on but sometimes nobody is at home. We need to be extra vigilant, exercise greater scrutiny and demand real engagement 'at all levels'. Our citizens deserve nothing less."
CEO, SciCom – Making Sense of Science
"Harm reduction, particularly in drugs, alcohol and tobacco, is the greatest preventable public health challenge we face today. I look forward to bringing together some of the best minds around to look at the science underpinning current approaches and challenging policy-makers to do better."