G20 Health Ministers have united to pledge global action to improve future health security, increase vaccine confidence and tackle antimicrobial resistance.
The G20 Health Ministers' Meeting, which took place in Rome, Italy, focused on building on strong cooperation and collaboration to end the COVID-19 pandemic and support recovery around the world, and to continue contributing to better prevent, detect and respond to global health threats and emergencies. A Health Declaration with commitments from all G20 countries has been published today (Monday 6 September 2021).
The nations agreed to work together to enhance timely global access to safe, affordable and effective COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, building on the work led by the Prime Minister at the UK-hosted G7 earlier this year for these three interventions to be available within 100 days of a future pandemic threat being identified.
To protect one of the pillars of medicine, antimicrobials that protect against infection, the G20 commits to building capacity for surveillance of antimicrobial use and resistance. A key focus of future action will be on support for the development of new safe and effective antimicrobials, in particular antibiotics, and incentivising the production of low-cost, affordable generic antimicrobials to safeguard the ability to fight infections for future generations.
Meeting counterparts on his first international visit as Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid made clear the UK's position on the need for COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial participants to have their vaccination status recognised globally.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid said:
The UK has led the way on the international response to this pandemic because no one is safe until we are all safe and international collaboration is vital to boosting global health security.
These G20 Health meetings have been an excellent opportunity to work together to strengthen our collaboration in combating COVID-19, through rooting out dangerous misinformation, boosting vaccine confidence and protecting the rights of clinical trials volunteers who have saved lives by taking part in vital medical research.
By working together, harnessing scientific progress and industry innovation, we can help protect people in every corner of the planet from future health emergencies, including the silent pandemic of AMR, which threatens the fabric of modern medicine."
To promote vaccine confidence, G20 Health ministers agreed to implement the most effective, culturally appropriate, and science-based public communication. This will help tailor reliable information to specific communities, combat misinformation and improve vaccine uptake.
Overall the UK has one of the highest vaccine uptake rates in the world and vaccine hesitancy has fallen among ethnic minority groups from 22% in the Jan-Feb survey to 9% at the most recent wave (May-June). The government has expanded the Community Champions Scheme so that communities have trusted local leaders who can help answer questions about the vaccine and work with the NHS and public health teams to support local communities.
Over 91 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across the UK, with nearly 80% of everyone aged over 16 receiving both doses, including more than 50% of those aged 18-29 being double jabbed.
The G20 also recognised the importance of recognising gender when designing and implementing health policies, considering the specific needs of women and girls, with a view to achieving gender equality in healthcare delivery. This builds on the UK's Women's Health Strategy which is working to put women's voices at the heart of change, and making sure the health and care system delivers for them.
A joint Finance and Health Ministers' G20 meeting will take place in October, ahead of the main G20 Summit on 30 and 31 October.