The World Health Organization (WHO) recently held a Global Meeting in Oman to bring together leaders and key stakeholders to discuss the biggest threats to global health and commit to making change. But what are the biggest health threats in modern society? Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and mental health disorders.
What are noncommunicable diseases?
Bigger than war or climate change, noncommunicable diseases are responsible for 7 out of every 10 deaths worldwide. This figure is staggering, especially considering NCDs are diseases that can’t be transferred from one person to another. NCDs include common chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and mental health disorders. These diseases may be caused by unhealthy lifestyles, substance abuse or poor diets and, in many cases, may be prevented with the right lifestyle and healthcare interventions. Unfortunately, because NCDs have become so prevalent, they are undermining workforce productivity and economic prosperity in every corner of the world.
WHO and Virgin Pulse Partner to Combat NCDs
The World Health Organization and Virgin Pulse have long been aligned on their approach to condition and disease management. Both organisations promote a holistic approach to condition management and small, healthy lifestyle interventions that make a big impact over time. The two have partnered on various occasions, but for this year’s Global Meeting they collaborated to give attendees a tangible experience that would drive home the key message of the conference: that people have the ability to prevent NCDs, and AI-powered digital health solutions like Virgin Pulse are effective, scalable tools that can raise health awareness and empower people to take small steps toward a healthier life.
Mini health challenge = Big learning opportunity
To help conference attendees ‘walk the talk’. Virgin Pulse custom-designed a mini Global Challenge that they could participate in throughout the duration of the conference. This challenge was designed to help attendees ‘learn by doing’, and to get a first-hand experience of the way healthy behaviours can impact overall wellbeing — even when done over a short period of time.
Senior Vice President at Virgin Pulse, Michael Leitner, introduced conference attendees to their custom health challenge during his session, “Digital by Design: Integrating Artificial Intelligence and Digital Health into the NCD response.” Attendees all received a device to track their steps and access to the Virgin Pulse platform, which has resources for mental wellbeing, digital health coaching, daily wellbeing tips based on interests and healthy habit tracking with AI-powered personalised recommendations. Attendees were grouped into teams of seven and embarked on a virtual journey around the world, unlocking new locations after tracking different healthy habits in the platform.
The results from the health challenge are forthcoming, but the mini health challenge immediately demonstrated the impact that digital health solutions can have on a large population. And the truth is, everyone is at risk for noncommunicable diseases, and talking without taking action won’t help move the needle on this global health crisis. Virgin Pulse was incredibly excited to partner with the World Health Organization on this project and to continue to promote life-saving interventions in the battle against NCDs.