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International Health

June 27, 2019

Experts Weigh in on How G20 Can Help the World Achieve Universal Health Coverage

The Japanese think tank, T20 (Think20) working group on universal health coverage, recently published a policy brief on ways the G20 can help achieve global universal health coverage (UHC). The recommendations are for the 2019 G20 Summit that will take place in Tokyo, Japan, on June 28-29. The G20, comprised of countries that have a substantial influence on the global economy, is uniquely placed to implement crucial actions that will help to achieve the health-related Sustainable Development Goals of “health and well-being for all at all ages.”


A complex web of global health development aid
Congestion and gaps in a complex web of global health development aid
in a typical recipient country - Gerald Bloom et al. BMJ 2019;365:bmj.l2107
 

The T20 working group includes representatives from around the world, including Dr. Krishna D. Rao from the Department of International Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, along with representatives from the Institute of Development Studies (UK), Waseda University (Japan), JICA Research Institute, and the University of Hong Kong.

The G20 Summit takes place just three months ahead of the UN high-level meeting on Universal Health Coverage, due to take place in September. If the Sustainable Development Goals on UHC are to be achieved by 2030 as intended, then efforts to meet key targets cannot keep going on their current trajectories.  

“The G20 is an important platform for global health for both demographic and economic reasons. They represent two-thirds of the world’s population, and the majority of its wealth and trade. As such, the G20 can have a profound influence on development aid, global health governance, access to medicines, and trade in medical products,” says Rao.

The policy brief, also published as a BMJ article, emphasized four major areas where the G20 can provide leverage and directly influence policy to make the SDG 2030 principle of “leaving no one behind” a reality. Key recommendations to the G20 for achieving UHC by 2030 include:

Supporting primary health care-oriented health systems through domestic financing and donor aid that focuses on investments in essential services provided at the community level, and a reorientation of the health care system to also include a strong emphasis on preventative interventions and the growing burden of non-communicable diseases. Prioritizing vulnerable populations, such as the poor, children, women, elderly and migrants, is also important because they face substantial inequities in access to care. The health of migrants is particularly concerning because of their increasing numbers globally due to environmental, economic and political causes.

Ensuring sustainable financing for health through development assistance that is gradually reallocated to the areas of greatest need, while supporting other areas on their way to becoming self-sufficient, particularly in the context of transitions from financial donor dependence.

Digital health technology can help improve health care services and delivery for marginalized and resource-poor areas. The G20 can develop a regulatory framework that both encourages innovative research and development while also ensuring the services and products are equitably deployed.

International cooperation is key for advancing UHC. The G20 can help to foster and coordinate cross-country collaboration by encouraging knowledge networks and mutual learning.

For more information on the key role that the G20 holds in advancing Universal Health Coverage, read the full policy brief.