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The G7 on Health at Cornwall: Can They Sustain Progress?

Meagan Byrd, G7 Research Group
June 12, 2021

The G7 Cornwall Summit marks the first in-person summit in almost two years. Although the meeting sparks hope for the end of COVID-19, there is still much needed progress to be made by the G7 leaders to mobilize resources for the hardest hit countries. Thus far, G7 members have pledged to donate 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries. This pledge is significantly lower than the World Health Organization's estimated 11 billion doses needed to vaccinate the world. Having spent many long days working in COVID-19 vaccination centres in Canada, I have seen first hand the progress of vaccination distribution. It is time for the progress to be taken on an international level.

Ahead of the Cornwall Summit, the G7 health ministers reaffirmed the "importance of international collaboration on health, in the context of a significant global crisis." In their 11,617-word communiqué issued on 4 June, the ministers highlighted the need for the continued need for contribution to health and healthcare workers.

The key pillars of the G7 health ministers communiqué are:

  1. Global health security
  2. Antimicrobial resistance
  3. Clinical trials
  4. Digital health

UK prime minister Boris Johnson first introduced global health security during his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2020. It was in that speech where Boris Johnson announced his five-point plan as a new approach to global health security with action on designing a global pandemic early warning system.

On 17 February 2021, the G7 leaders met virtually to discuss G7 strengths and values as "democratic, open economies and societies" to work together in order to shape a "recovery that promotes the health and prosperity of our own people and planet." The virtual summit made a strong start on the UK's G7 presidency on health governance. It produced 27 precise, future-oriented, politically binding commitments, eight of which are dedicated to health.

The G7 has created a strong foundation for action through the leadup to the G7 Cornwall Summit. To see sustained success on health, the G7 leaders need to build on the health ministers' commitments made at their June meeting.

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