Preliminary findings and proposals by Task Force 1 on Global Health

Health systems: strengthening preparedness and resilience

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased pressures on health systems across the world, exacerbating existing resource and capacity constraints. To guarantee health quality and efficiency for all, it is necessary to substantially increase the preparedness capabilities of health systems to enable them to respond to crises while strengthening their core primary functions. This implies in particular:

  • delivering quality healthcare through a balanced model that incorporates hospital-centered and decentralized, community-based, approaches;
  • investing in the training of the health workforce;
  • promoting a wider application of digital technology, AI and telemedicine.

From pathogens to people: enhancing reporting and surveillance for more effective control of disease outbreaks

  • Early and effective reporting and monitoring of pathogens and other health threats is crucial for reducing the impact of global pandemics. Independent and scientist-led reporting and monitoring of pathogens and other emerging health threats should be promoted through the establishment of a new Data Platform on Emerging Health Threat and a new system to incentivize scientists to report and make data accessible.
  • High quality population health data lies at the core of both effective and equitable responses to public health emergencies: these data are central to designing evidence-informed policy-making and to guiding and evaluating targeted interventions. To this end harmonised and disaggregated surveillance for people and populations, including in low- and lower-middle income countries, should be established based on a unique model for sex-and age-disaggregated reporting.

Boosting equitable access and production of diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines to confront Covid-19 on a global footing

All efforts done at the international level have been largely insufficient to ensure worldwide equitable access to tests, vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 and beyond. New effective actions should be carried out at international and regional level in order to:

  • Introduce new arrangements to accelerate access for all people to on-patent medicines, vaccines and equipment – including through price controls, licensing, enhanced public and private sector production, limited time approvals.
  • Develop enhanced production capacity in LMICs and especially in Africa where present capacities and investments are unacceptably limited.
  • Facilitate technology transfer and the share of technical know-how to build capacities where they are most needed.
  • Facilitate voluntary and compulsory licencing agreements and the full use of the flexibilities under TRIPS. Waiving protection of IP rights should be considered, when and where it is useful.
  • Build globally resilient supply chains achieved through robust manufacturing networks and access to raw materials.

One Health approach for comprehensive and coordinated prevention and preparedness plans to global health threat

  • The tight interconnection of human, animal and environment requires a holistic approach to health to ensure prevention and preparedness.
  • One Health based conceptual frameworks are required to ensure comprehensiveness in the risk analysis and in the preparedness plans. The One Health frameworks should include standards for data collection and analysis, aimed at detecting threats signals and supporting the evaluation of “cumulative societal costs” on health, social and economic systems.

Promoting Health Literacy in the general population and maintain access to education during public health emergencies

  • Health literacy should be promoted in the general population, through a Global Health Literacy Alliance. This Alliance, on the basis of reliable data on the levels of health literacy, would set long-term common objectives and promote the definition and sharing of accurate health content for the public, social media awareness campaigns as well as gamification tools and apps to stimulate critical and healthy thinking habits.
  • Education is the greatest equaliser within societies and a significant determinant of sustainable economic growth, so halting education negatively affects future generations. During future pandemics, schools should remain open and contingency plans and associated investments should be a critical component of pandemic preparedness plans so that, even when school closure is unavoidable, children can realise their right to health, education, and protection.

Global equity for global health equity

  • To track progress on addressing health inequities within and between countries, the G20 should promote a global health equity observatory that combines data on within- and between-country health inequity, and the underlying drivers of this inequity. Such an observatory could leverage existing health data collection and data on key pillars of health equity such as education, employment, and infrastructure, as well as identify critical data gaps.
  • Data on the root causes of global health inequity will be insufficient without complementary systems of global accountability so that countries, non-governmental agencies, and funders can be held to account. Rather than continuing to focus exclusively on downstream biomedical interventions it is critical that systems of accountability are built and periodic independent reporting is done on investment in foundational drivers of health equity.

Counter the gender-related health barriers in COVID-19

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated gender-related structural inequalities – a phenomenon observed in past economic and health crises. Yet, long-term, intersectoral and structural reforms remain relegated. The COVID-19 recovery initiatives could be used to build a more gender-equitable health and non-health system, to foster cooperation between states, experts, civil-movements, and business actors, to enact systemic reforms and to strengthen accountability for gender equity and non-discrimination across the globe.

Regional collective action to address COVID-19 and prepare for future pandemics 

  • The G20 countries should demonstrate regional leadership and empower regional organizations so that they can play a more active and proactive role in designing and rolling out a coordinated action to foster readiness of the overall health systems vis-à-vis epidemics and pandemics. That implies providing financial resources to the regional level and/or pooling national resources, promoting sharing data and knowledge with solid regional mechanisms that do not depend on political cycles and changes in domestic leaderships.

Task Force on Global Health