The Third HWG Meeting (Health Working Group) of the G20 under Italian Presidency took place at the Monumental Hall of Palazzo Chigi on 17 and 18 June 2021 and concluded a series of meetings with membership and stakeholders aimed at gathering inputs and perspectives, ahead of the Ministers’ Final Declaration on 5-6 September 2021 in Rome. Delegates were informed that the September meeting will be held in person.
The two-day meeting, held via video conference, was attended by delegates from all G20 member states as well as by representatives from guest countries, United Nations agencies concerned with this issue, and invited international organizations.
Davide La Cecilia, Diplomatic Advisor to the Italian Minister of Health and G20 Health Sherpa, welcomed the participants and coordinated the meeting.
On this occasion, the discussion topic on health emergencies proposed by the Presidency was: “Fair and equitable access to control tools – diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines – capitalizing on the experience gained with COVID-19 and tackling future pandemics”.
On the first day, the topic was introduced by the Director General of the Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA), Nicola Magrini.
Subsequently A. Buzyn (WHO), L. N. Balaji (UNICEF) and M. Pearson (OECD), presented the “Concept Note” prepared with the ministerial staff, which defines the framework and outlines the objectives, prompting G20 delegates, guests and international organizations to engage an open dialogue concerning the issues raised.
UNITAID Director P. Duneton and Medicines Patent Pool Director C. Gore illustrated their activities and spoke about their experiences following years of commitment to facilitating equitable access to medicines and vaccines in low-income countries for the management of diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Malaria and, most recently, their involvement with other agencies for COVID-19 response as part of the ACT-Accelerator and COVAX initiatives. W. Brock presented the activities of FIND – the global alliance for diagnostics – engaged in ensuring equitable access to reliable diagnostic tests, critical for early detection of diseases.
From the perspective of Universal Health Coverage, Pauline Mwinzi (WHO/ESPEN Africa) presented the activities implemented for the prevention and control of Neglected Tropical Diseases and E. Capobianco (International Federation of Red Cross) highlighted the fundamental role of local communities, where health emergencies begin and resolve.
On the second day of the conference, Walter Ricciardi, Professor at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart Rome, coordinated a consultation session where delegates from stakeholder groups were invited to present their positions and proposals on the topics under discussion. Representatives of Engagement Groups, NGOs and non-governmental actors took part in the consultations.
The Presidency also announced an upcoming event on 3 September 2021, on the sidelines of the Health Ministers Meeting, dedicated to “Mental Health in light of COVID-19”: a highly topical issue and a key priority for the Ministry of Health.
The meeting presented an opportunity for the High-Level Independent Panel (HLIP), established in January 2021, to present solutions on financing the global common goods for pandemic preparedness and response. The Presidency also presented to the HWG delegates the contents and guiding principles of the outcome documents – drawn up on the basis of the topics proposed and the outcome of the discussions held during previous meetings – which will accompany the drafting of the G20 Health Ministers’ final Declaration during their meeting on 5 and 6 September 2021.