Conservative health care systems – a threat to development

Look out. Chances are that a billion people in Asia, Africa and South America with an under-developed health care system will combine genomics and healthcare data way sooner than rich countries with rigid systems. 

– The western worldview of healthcare is a hundred years old and conservative, says The Bridge keynote speaker Bogi Eliasen from Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies.


Bogi Eliasen originates from the Faroe Islands – an archipelago situated between Norway and Iceland.

When he was young, there was no Internet, just a library in a small town. He went to Brazil in 1991 as an exchange student, learnt Portuguese and became aware of the many opportunities we have in the western countries. The thought that we need to use our privilege for something constructive stuck with him.

Since 2009, Bogi Eliasen co- iniated the ambitious genome project FarGen, which aims to whole genome sequence the entire population of the Faroe Islands in order to research and develop opportunities in genetics.

– I have had my entire genome sequenced twice as well as I have done the more limited version of 23andme, he says.

– It doesn’t kill you to know what is in your genome, you know.

Bogi also says that you should not be forced to get this information.

– We need to think about why we produce data beforehand and figure out how people can benefit from knowing what genes they have. If you can’t use it don’t produce it. But rare genetic diseases, when combined, actually affect 7-10% of the population.

In his keynote talk at The Bridge Summit August 22-23, Bogi Eliasen will address the future in molecular science and health, the framework of what and how we need to work, and discuss obstacles and opportunities. It will be a talk about the future of data and healthcare.

– No 4-year frames, he says.

– We need to think in longer perspectives.

For the western health care, combining genomics and healthcare data may not be an easy thing. Event thought the technology is in place. In fact, a billion middle class people in Asia, Africa and South America with an under-developed health care system could be a factor that will push the development to go much faster than in richer countries with rigid systems.

– The western worldview of health care is a hundred years old and conservative, says Bogi Eliasen.

Photo: Klaksvík on the Faroe Islands by Johannes Martin, CC BY ND 2.0