SEATTLE — In May, Japan hosted its first G7 summit since 2008. G7, or the Group of Seven, is an informal alliance between the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom. The group meets to discuss pressing world issues. Although this G7 summit, called the Ise-Shima summit, covered many topics, Japan especially prioritized global health.
Japan’s minister of Health, Labor and Welfare, Yasuhisa Shiozaki, wrote an article for the Japan Times. In the article, he detailed what he saw as the most important future goals for global health. Shiozaki believes there are three main points that need addressing:
Support Health Organizations
First, the global community needs to strengthen its support for the WHO and other emergency response global health organizations. Consequently, this will streamline the worldwide reactions to disease outbreaks.
Prioritize Universal Health Coverage
Second, world powers must make universal health coverage a priority. While developing nations do not have this capability on their own, the rest of the world should invest in health alternatives, “insuring that no one is left behind.”
Combat Antimicrobial Resistance
Third, G7 and the world at large must make a concerted effort to fight against antimicrobial resistance. In short, this resistance threatens the global health system and endangers hundreds of millions of individuals. G7 discussed each of these points at the summit, and they hope to work toward these goals in the coming months and years.
According to The Diplomat, a news organization specializing in Asia and the Pacific, the government of Japan recently announced its intention to donate $1.1 billion to global health causes. Some of these causes include the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis, and Malaria; Gavi, the vaccine alliance; WHO; the World Bank and the Global Health Initiative Technology Fund. The article also stated that Japan hopes this donation will serve as a catalyst in encouraging other world powers to make global health recognition and innovation a priority.
Previous summits held in Japan have also been landmarks in the international discussion of global health. In 2000, the Kyushu-Okinawa summit brought the issue of infectious diseases to the table. The summit also led to the creation of the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. The 2008 Hokkaido Toyako summit saw G7 agreements on measures to strengthen health systems worldwide, especially for women and children.
With the G7 Kobe Health Ministers’ Meeting on the horizon in September, Minister Shiozaki hopes that Japan will be able to continue pushing its global health agenda, remaining at the forefront of the fight for health improvements.
– Sage Smiley