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Statement on Outcomes from G20 Health Ministers’ Meeting

Statement from José Luis Castro, President and CEO of Vital Strategies, on Outcomes from G20 Health Ministers’ Meeting:

Aug. 22, 2023 (New York)—Vital Strategies commends the G20 health ministers who met in Gandhinagar, India, Aug. 18-19 to discuss major public health priorities and challenges and reassert their commitment to strengthening the global health architecture. The Group of Twenty (G20) is the premier forum for international economic cooperation. 

In response, José Luis Castro, President and CEO of Vital Strategies, said: “We applaud the outcomes from the G20 Health Ministers’ Meeting and the reaffirmation of their commitment to strengthen global health systems.

COVID-19 revealed deep cracks in our systems and made clear that without strong public health systems, countries can be left defenseless when it comes to today’s most common drivers of death and disease. The world needs bold leadership focused on prevention and preparedness. In areas of conflict right now, including Ethiopia, Ukraine and many more, as we hope for peace, we urge the international community to demand that safety and health remain a top priority.

Noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease and cancers remain today’s leading killers around the world. Whether the issue is air quality, transportation safety, ultra-processed foods, tobacco, drug overdose or infectious disease, it’s time to think more holistically about the interconnections that create health so we can work together to weave a new, more robust global health architecture.

India’s current leadership of the G20 highlights the country’s demonstrated commitment to public health and preventing NCDs. For example, India recently expanded its landmark Film Rule, becoming the first country in the world to mandate health warnings when tobacco use is depicted on streaming services. This policy is in line with key provisions of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control—the world’s first public health treaty—operationalized through the World Health Organization’s MPOWER package. Vital Strategies has proudly worked to drive MPOWER implementation and supported 44 countries to reduce tobacco use by delivering evidence-based, population-level campaigns to promote and support proven tobacco control policies.

Global public health systems go beyond health care: health can be created or harmed in our communities and countries through policies that affect the air we breathe, the food we eat, the safety of our streets and much more. International support and cooperation from organizations such as G20 is critical to safeguard health and support our work with our partners to implement proven, effective policies and interventions to help prevent and reduce NCDs. As the health ministers affirmed in their outcome document, ‘the need of the hour is to converge, consolidate, and create a healthier future.’

We are encouraged by the attention issues such as universal health coverage, digital health modernization and the effects on climate change on health received at the G20 health ministers meeting. Notably, the health ministers recognized the importance of health data, an area where Vital Strategies is a global leader through our Data for Health programs. But we all know words are not enough. Governments must work together to not only recognize the issues at hand, but to enact equitable and effective solutions. Governments must be credible to their people and efforts must deliver results, swiftly. Lives are on the line.

At Vital Strategies, we’re committed to ensuring everyone, everywhere, is protected by a strong public health system. We’ll continue to bring the best evidence to local partners and governments, and constantly seek new evidence and knowledge that will help to better serve the people in most need.

At this critical moment in public health, we are eager to support governments, the World Health Organization and our partners around the world to reach our shared vision: strong public health systems that help millions of people live longer, healthier lives.”

Read the full outcome document from the G20 Health Ministers’ Meeting.

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies believes every person should be protected by an equitable and effective public health system. We partner with governments, communities, and organizations around the world to reimagine public health so that health is supported in all the places we live, work, and play. The result is millions of people living longer, healthier lives.

To learn more, visit www.vitalstrategies.org, or follow us @VitalStrat.