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The UK as a global centre for health and health science – a go-to place for all aspects of health

A new report by researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and parliamentarians from the UK's influential All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Global Health argues the UK can play an even greater role in health globally
Graphic of APPG on Global Health report (2020) with UK health body and charity names

The UK is already a leader in health and the related sciences, to the benefit of its own citizens and economy and to the wider world. It has world-class universities and research, is a global leader in health policy and international development, has strong life sciences and bio-medical and bio-tech industries, and a vibrant and diverse not-for-profit sector.

However, a new report from the APPG on Global Health argues that the UK should give this role even greater priority and that further planning, collaboration and targeted investment will enable the UK to become a truly global centre for health and health science.

Following on from the 2015 APPG report the authors, including Sarah Curran, Helena Legido-Quigley and Julia Spencer from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, conducted further research outlining what has changed since then, collating the perceptions of the UK’s role in health from 78 experts based both inside and outside of the UK.

Lord Nigel Crisp, Co-Chair of the APPG on Global Health and former NHS Chief Executive, said:

“The UK is well-known as a world financial sector. We believe it has the potential to be equally well-known as a global centre for health and health science. This is a vision which everyone can get behind in the new post-Brexit world.”

This report identifies many improvements made in the last five years, from increased funding for research and greater foreign investment in UK biomedicine and life sciences, to new regional collaborations and advances in artificial intelligence, genomics and mental health.

However, it also highlights new risks in shortages of health workers and researchers, and a potential loss of access and influence over European research funds and partnerships. The researchers also identified key concerns about the UK’s immigration and visa politics, a potential UK retreat from the global stage, and increased global competition.

The report maintains that decisive action is now needed to grasp the many opportunities and at the same time, recognise, plan for, and mitigate the risks.

Peter Piot, Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, added:

“The UK is a well-known global leader in health and development. This important report not only highlights the UK’s strengths in these areas but critically showcases the exciting advances made, especially in research and innovation, in recent years.

“While there are many notable challenges ahead, at this pivotal moment the UK has a unique opportunity to draw on its assets and demonstrate real leadership to become an outward looking, global centre for health and health science. We should not forget that global health is an important element of the UK’s “soft power” and critical not only for improving the health of population overseas but also here in the UK.”

The report is available to download from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Health website: The UK as a global centre for health and health science –a go-to place for all aspects of health.

The authors have also written a commentary in The Lancet: The UK as a global centre for health and health science.