G20 health ministers acknowledge weakness of their healthcare systems

Riyadh, Apr 19 (efe-epa).- The health ministers of the G20 nations on Sunday held a teleconference to analyze the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which they said “has highlighted systemic weaknesses” in healthcare systems, agreeing on the need to share their knowledge and experience to improve their countries’ response to and preparation for the ongoing crisis.

In a statement issued from Riyadh at the close of the virtual gathering, the ministers acknowledged that Covid-19 has brought “socio-economic impacts” to their nations and “addressed the need to improve the effectiveness of global health systems by sharing knowledge and closing the gap in response capabilities and readiness.”

The ministers said that the pandemic has shown the vulnerabilities of the global community’s ability to prevent and respond to the threat of pandemics.

Saudi Arabia holds the temporary presidency of the G20 and its health minister, Tawfiq al-Rabia said at the beginning of the meeting that all the participating officials, as health ministers, have “opened their eyes” and found large gaps in the healthcare systems and countless opportunities to improve that infrastructure and those procedures.

He called on G20 members to continue their commitment to support the entity’s working groups concerned with health, which meet monthly, and on the ministers to meet again in July and in October with an eye toward presenting “effective responses” that can be approved by the G20 heads of state and government at the organization’s November general meeting.

The ministers did not discuss the situation of the World Health Organization in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s decision last week to temporarily halt US funding for the Geneva-based agency.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and other officials from the health entity participated in Sunday’s teleconference, with Tedros telling the ministers that the pandemic will not be “over” when nations begin lifting their quarantines.

A press conference had originally been scheduled for after the close of the teleconference, however that was cancelled without explanation.

Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko emphasized three points in his speech during the conference: supporting the efforts of the WHO, thinking about the need to improve the global response mechanism to deal with this kind of challenge and confronting the worldwide problem of access to medical supplies.

Russia’s Sputnik news agency reported that Murashko said that “the pandemic will allow (us) to think about the modernization of healthcare systems, above all to deal with these challenges” in the future.

Although preparing for the future and being more coordinated in their nations’ response to such a crisis was one of the main issues dealt with at the teleconference, the participants did not come to any concrete agreements on how to achieve a better joint response.

“I had three asks of @g20org health ministers today: 1. Fight #COVID19 with determination, guided by science & evidence 2. Continue to support the global response 3. Work together to increase the production & equitable distribution of essential supplies & remove trade barriers,” tweeted the WHO’s Tedros.

“The #COVID19 pandemic has reminded us of a simple truth: we are one humanity. Today I was honoured to join the @g20 Health Ministers meeting to express @WHO’s gratitude for their leadership and commitment to combat the current crisis & ensure this never happens again,” said Tedros in another tweet.


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