G20 Health Ministers Issue Detailed Declaration On Global Health Goals

A G20 Health Ministers Declaration, issued after a two-day meeting of ministers in Okayama Japan, has endorsed rapid achievement of universal health coverage, a more effective support of healthy ageing, increased attention to health emergencies and their underlying causes such as poverty and weak health systems, and more forceful action on antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

The detailed 11-page statement by health ministers of the world’s 20 largest economies – goes well beyond the more general commitment by G20 leaders to advance global health goals, which was issued at the close of their two-day meeting on 27-28 June.

The health ministers’ declaration reaffirmed the political declaration of the high-level UN meeting on Universal Health Coverage that took place 23 September, Universal health coverage: moving together to build a healthier world – which set a goal of covering every person worldwide with quality, affordable health services by 2030.

The ministerial declaration emphasized that achieving UHC would require strengthened primary health care systems first and foremost: “We recognize that high quality and safe primary health care including access to medicines, vaccination, nutrition, water and sanitation, health promotion, and disease prevention as well as managing antimicrobial resistance is a cornerstone for UHC.”

As part of the commitment to UHC, the ministers also reaffirmed pledges to “end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria” in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goal targets; eradicate polio; support immunization; advance digital health technologies; and strengthen the capacities of the health workforce.

The declaration also gave extensive attention to healthy ageing, affirming: “active and healthy ageing as one of our priorities.  To support active and healthy aging, we will strive to optimize the opportunities for good health at all stages of life, to end ageism and discrimination against older people, to ensure older people are respected and enabled to exercise their rights and fully contribute to the society.”

In terms of ageing, health investments should also focus on ways to extend healthy life expectancy, including promoting research and development on reduction of risk factors for, and early treatment of dementia.  Investments should be made by other sectors in more age-friendly and dementia inclusive environments, the statement said.

In a section on management of health risks and health security, the ministers stressed that: “Outbreaks and other health emergencies are exacerbated by poverty, disadvantage, impact of social determinants of health or inadequate response capacity of health systems. Strengthening health systems, reinforcing primary health care as a cornerstone for universal health coverage is essential to stop the spread of infectious diseases and respond to health emergencies.”

The ministers added that “urgent action” needs to be taken to address the global threat of AMR, and welcomed the recent report of the United Nations Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (IACG)  “No Time to Wait: Securing the Future from Drug Resistant Infections“, as a practical guide to addressing AMR risk factors.

The declaration also noted that “improved practices and policy measures to provide clean water, sanitation, vaccination, and hygiene to improve infection prevention and control” can be a key components in combating AMR.

See the full text of the Declaration here.

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