No health on G20 agenda prompts leaders to host international Health 20

Leaders from over 20 advanced and emerging economies met in Melbourne, Australia at the G20 Leaders Summit on November 15 and 16, 2014. The weekend summit focused on core issues of economic growth and resilience.

Concerned by the absence of a discussion around health as an enabler of economic growth and an important part of the economy as "the greatest social capital a nation can have," the World Medical Association, the Australian Medical Association, and the Australian Medical Association Victoria  hosted the first international Health 20 Summit – the H20 (#H20Melb on Twitter).  

Under the theme “Healthy people, successful economy,” the summit brought together medical professionals, leaders, experts, and activists to discuss:

  • health as a wise investment;
  • the burden of noncommunicable diseases;
  • the social determinants of health; and
  • the health effects of climate change and how to tackle them.

URC’s Tana Wuliji, Senior Improvement Advisor and Health Workforce Development Unit Lead, Quality Performance Institute, presented the H20's conclusions on the final day of the summit. Dr. Wuliji's presentation highlighted the growing interconnectedness and interdependencies of economies globally, representing an ecosystem with both vulnerabilities and opportunities; and the constant and amplifying changes in geopolitics, demographics, socio-economics, and environment that can impact health. She noted that the resilience of economies, which is dependent upon both design and capacity, reflect the extent to which nations are able to build and leverage social capital in health.

Health workers must not only continue to advocate for better investments in health to strengthen health systems, but they must also advocate for the importance of investing for health to ensure that economic, social, political, and climate changes do not come at the cost of health, but rather create the conditions for health.

Dr. Mukesh Haikerwal, Chair of the World Medical Association Council and the H20Melb lead organizer shared some thoughts about the summit:

"The WMA Council has sought to be proactive and to emphasize that health is not a bottomless pit of unproductive expenditure that has to be reined in, but rather a positive and worthy investment. A productive society depends on a healthy engaged and confident workforce.

"Addressing the challenges surrounding noncommunicable diseases, the social determinants of health, the health aspects of climate change and the post-2015 sustainability development goals are all imperative."

Although health was not featured officially on the G20 summit agenda, its concluding communiqué reflected the need to support efforts to stop Ebola through greater capacity building, working with local resources, providing support, and strengthening systems.

URC congratulates the WMA on this successful summit and welcomes the news that future H20 summits will be held to continue to advocate for health on the G20 agenda.

A large group of H20 Summit guests standing on outdoor stairs in front of a classic building in Brisbane, Australia
Guests at the first H20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia
November 25, 2014
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