Director's update: G20 leaders' pledges on global health

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G20 leaders united to make crucial pledges on global health at the weekend. Wellcome’s Director Jeremy Farrar gives an overview.

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Wellcome Director Jeremy Farrar

Infectious disease outbreaks, the rise of drug-resistant infections and the impacts of climate change on health are urgent global problems that threaten the health of millions.

These are all priority areas for Wellcome, and we have been arguing for some time that they should be prominent on the global political agenda. We are already working to drive advances to ensure communities across all borders are better prepared to cope with these health threats.

At G20, under Germany’s leadership, these issues are now getting the attention they deserve. We saw real commitment to draw together the international political will which has been building – and ensure this becomes action. For Wellcome, the promises are opportunity to work with the global community closer still to effect change.

We look forward to seeing rapid progress on the following goals, set out in the G20 leaders’ communique:

Epidemic preparedness

  • Working together to better protect communities and ensure all nations can act quickly to contain outbreaks of deadly infection and prevent health emergencies.
  • Supporting the WHO's central coordinating role through the WHO R&D Blueprint, which I will continue to chair.
  • Striving to eradicate polio.
  • Strengthening health systems, providing sustainable funding.
  • Investing in research and development through global partnerships such as the vaccines coalition CEPI – the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations – which Wellcome helped to found.

The leaders’ announcement came alongside news that the Norwegian government will make an extra $70m commitment to CEPI, and that Canada and Australia will join it.

Drug-resistant infections

  • National action plans tackling spread of resistance in humans, animals and the environment in place by the end of 2018.
  • Prudent use of antibiotics – for humans and animals.
  • Ensuring treatments are affordable and available, through prescription, to all. Preserving existing antibiotics.
  • Focus on research for WHO priority pathogens and TB.
  • Launch of a new global research and development body – the Global Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Collaboration Hub. Wellcome will invest in and support this important initiative. The hub will work with existing partnerships such as  CARB-X, which Wellcome funds.

Africa Partnership

  • Launch of G20 Africa Partnership to promote sustainable, inclusive economic development, responding to the needs and aspirations of African countries.
  • Recognising importance of complementary initiatives to the partnership, aligning well with Wellcome's support for research and training through the DELTAS Africa initiative.

Climate change

  • Reaffirming action on climate change, addressing greenhouse gases and investing in alternative energies. But the leaders’ statement also highlights the continuing divide with the USA on this issue.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron announced talks will be held in December in Paris to move further action.
  • Through Our Planet Our Health, Wellcome invests in research to build understanding of the complex links between our environment and human health.
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