TIME health

How We Can Make the Healthiest Generation in History

Gorsky is the Chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson

“They will embody health and wellness. They will survive diseases we now consider death sentences.”

Over the next 24 hours, 353,000 babies will be born into a world that is changing faster than ever. They will have access to technology, connectivity and education in an age of big data, artificial intelligence and smartphones—making them capable of developing unique insights and transferring them to one another within a single second. This new generation, which includes those born from 2011 until 2025, and which will total two billion people, has been given many names—Gen Alpha, Generation Glass, Net Gen and Gen Tech. However, we have the opportunity to make them the healthiest generation in history—“Gen H”.

If we take thoughtful action today, and if they make the right decisions in the coming years, Gen H will have greater access to care. They will embody health and wellness. They will survive diseases we now consider death sentences.

The future begins with good health and prevention. But to get there, we must not just spend more, but invest more wisely, more deliberately. We should start here to make progress globally, to create a generation where active health and wellness is a way of life:

  • Invest in women, the world’s decision makers. Women currently make 80 percent of the health decisions in the world. We must educate them and the girls who will become them. They are how we begin to heal future families.
  • Protect ailing employees. In both developed and developing countries, adult populations are facing alarming increases in rates of chronic diseases—cancers, diabetes and illnesses both cardiovascular and respiratory—which claim 63% of all deaths. These chronic diseases strike employees in their prime years of productivity and can cause them to withdraw from the workforce, thus diminishing family resources as well as global productivity—costing nations about 6.5% of GDP on average. Government and business leaders need to take an active role in championing a healthy workforce.
  • Digitize healthcare. This will let Gen H-ers take their wellbeing into their own hands and integrate health into their daily lives—advancing civilization faster and farther than ever before. Innovations such as health sensors, portable diagnostic devices and on-demand 3D bio-printing solutions have the potential to make the impossible possible. And if we share knowledge across industries—from health to auto to energy to finance—we can achieve greater patient outcomes and boost human health and well-being for even the future we cannot yet imagine.

Read more articles from the TIME/Fortune Global Forum at the Vatican on the role of business in solving the world’s greatest problems.

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