THE BLOG
09/16/2016 04:35 pm ET Updated Sep 17, 2017

The German G20 Presidency And Global Health

This comment piece is based on a position paper by VENRO (Association of German development and humanitarian aid NGOs) and MSF (Ärtze ohne Grenzen e.V.). The full paper is available in German and English.

Germany's Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has on several occasions publicly stated that global health will be part of the G20 agenda during Germany's upcoming presidency. Following the G20 Hangzhou Summit, the G7 Ise-Shima Summit and most recently the Kobe Health Ministers' Meeting, Germany will soon outline its G20 plans for 2017, including on global health. As G20 members have all committed to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda, expectations for an aligned and ambitious G20 global health agenda are high - and should be, if G20 members are serious about attaining the SDGs.

The paper proposes that the German government places three concrete global health issues on the G20 agenda:

First, in alignment with the SDG's commitment to "leave no one behind", the G20 should focus on vulnerable groups (such as women and children), hard-to reach groups (due to e.g. geographical location) and people who are discriminated against (ethnical minorities, those discriminated due to their sexual orientation, etc.). The G20 global health agenda should reflect the needs of these vulnerable groups, aligned with the SDG health goals. A focus on single diseases would undermine the new SDG paradigm.

Second, the G20 should not forget the key lessons from the Ebola crisis: a need for a multi-sectoral approach to health (including water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), education, or data systems), a strong focus on prevention through health systems and underpinned by universal health coverage (UHC), and a strong, fully-funded WHO. The G20 agenda should build on the G7 priority areas of the German and Japanese presidencies, and not narrowly define global health as crisis management. Therefore, we call for the G20 to incorporate global health in the G20 Development Track (not just the Health Track), as health is not only an outcome, but also a precondition for human development.

Finally, the G20 should tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in a comprehensive manner, focusing not only on the rational use of antibiotics, but also on new models and financing mechanisms for biomedical research and development. The G20's engagement is critical to ensure globally affordable access to vaccines, diagnostics and drugs - for all people.