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Tackling Health at the Buenos Aires Summit and Beyond

Duja Muhanna, G20 Research Group
December 6, 2018

At the two-day annual meeting of the G20 in Buenos Aires, Argentina on November 30–December 1, the leaders of the world's 19 wealthiest countries and the European Union, reaffirmed their commitment to global health.

Global health is integrally linked to the G20's mandate of economic growth and remains crucial to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The Buenos Aires consensus communiqué and Action Plan produced six politically binding commitments on health. G20 leaders reiterated the need for stronger health systems and a move toward universal health coverage; recognized the need for further action to reduce the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR); agreed to tackle malnutrition, with a special focus on childhood obesity; pledged to strengthen core capacities required by International Health Regulations; committed to end HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria; and encouraged the World Health Organization to develop an action plan for implementing health-related aspects of the SDGs by 2030.

These commitments reflect the growing importance of global health issues for the leaders of the 20 systemically significant economies. Since the leaders met for the first time in 2008, G20 summits have focused traditionally on financial and economic issues, with global health addressed indirectly. Global health became prominent for the first time at the Brisbane Summit in 2014, when G20 leaders issued a separate statement on the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. At the 2015 Antalya Summit, the leaders began to address global health risks, including AMR and weak health systems. Under Germany's G20 presidency in 2017, G20 health ministers met for the first time and committed to greater international cooperation on health through their Berlin Declaration. Under Argentina's G20 presidency, Argentinian president Mauricio Macri pledged to continue the health discussions from the Hamburg Summit and included the topic on the 2018 G20 agenda. G20 health ministers met in Mar del Plata, Argentina, on October 4 where they pledged to share their national action plans for global health security and build consensus for sustainable development considering health as key to achieving these goals worldwide.

On December 1, 2018, at the end of the G20 Buenos Aires Summit, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that health would be one of the priority issues for the Osaka Summit on June 28-29, 2019. It is encouraging that the 2019 Osaka Summit will keep health high on the agenda. It would be good to see Japan provide strong leadership on global health and other great challenges facing the world today, such as climate change and its impact on health.

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Duja MuhannaDuja Muhanna is a research analyst with the G7 and G20 Research Groups. She joined the G7 Research Group in 2013 and has since served as a compliance analyst and lead analyst. She was a member of the field team at the 2018 G7 summit in Charlevoix, Canada. Her research interests include peace and security issues related to human rights, biodiversity protection and climate change. Duja graduated from the University of Toronto with an honours bachelor's degree in political science and history with a focus on international relations. She is also a certified protocol officer from The Protocol School of Washington.

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