September 4th, 2021
The G20 Health Ministers’ Meeting will be held in Rome on 5 and 6 September. This forum, recently established in the context of the G20, has rapidly risen to strategic importance due to the pandemic.
Health is one of the central topics of the Italian G20 Presidency and has rightfully entered all high-level meetings and dialogue with the membership and engagement groups, starting from the Global Health Summit held in Rome. It is also deeply linked to the three priorities of the Italian Presidency – People, Planet, Prosperity – which indicate how our wellbeing cannot overlook the environment we live in.
The structure of the Health Ministers’ Meeting includes three sessions.
The first session will deal with the impact of Covid-19 on the sustainable development goals (SDG) of the 2030 Agenda. The prolonged health emergency is a threat to their progress, with estimates indicating how for certain objectives the accrued delay could amount to decades, particularly in certain areas of the world, and makes efforts for their achievement an even more urgent priority.
The G20 Health will have the “build back better” mandate as its main message, together with the achievement of greater resilience in facing health crises. Improving health systems on a global, national and local scale, starting from primary care and community medicine, and investing a relevant amount of resources in health and wellbeing will be of capital importance in order to sustain long-term global socio-economic progress and achieve greater shared prosperity. It will therefore be necessary to pursue a recovery which takes into account the lessons learned during the pandemic, adapting them to the SDG context.
The second session will provide specific guidance on these changes. We will address the question as to what should be done in order to prevent, be better prepared and respond to future pandemics. In the awareness that the latest health crises have had their main determinant factors in the human-animal-environment interface, one of the key answers that G20 members will suggest will be to strengthen the One Health approach, which encompasses in a holistic concept human, animal and environmental health as determinants of our wellbeing. In terms of response, the crisis has first of all brought to light the importance of having solid and efficient health systems, overcoming decades of inadequate investments.
The third session will examine the tools which are allowing us to effectively counter the pandemic. G20 members will address identifying the best possible global strategies to support development and equitable access to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. Covid-19 has taught us how scientific research, international cooperation and public-private partnership manage to produce extraordinary results, including safe and effective vaccines in a matter of months. The G20 Ministers will discuss how to ensure the widest possible access to vaccines worldwide, starting from existing collaboration mechanisms, including donation of doses to face the most immediate needs. It will furthermore be necessary to bridge the financing gap of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), particularly in the pillars addressing health systems and diagnostics, which will continue to be relevant to the management of the pandemic together with vaccination programmes. The aim is for the G20 Health Ministers’ Meeting to send out a reinforced message of cooperation, solidarity and equity, in the belief that “no one should be left behind”.
The working sessions will take place at the Campidoglio and the accredited foreign and Italian press will be hosted at the headquarters of the Civita Association.
The Health Ministers’ Meeting in September is a step along the path the Italian Presidency has undertaken together with G20 members, guest Countries and International Organisations. The Global Health Summit in May has gathered in the Rome Declaration the principles which inspire the fight against Covid-19. Along this path, the Health Ministers will meet again with Finance colleagues at the end of October to face the fundamental issue of how to reinforce the global health architecture. While maintaining the WHO’s central role, the goal is to improve cooperation among existing international organisations and national authorities, possibly establishing a joint G20 Health and Finance Ministers coordination and decision-making forum, open to International Organisations and other relevant actors. Ensuring a more solid and stable financing system is an essential corollary to this objective, both to overcome the current pandemic once and for all, and to be better equipped for future events.