G20 seeks agreement on global health policies

The first meeting of the Health Working Group at the CCK, Buenos Aires, focuses on malnutrition as well as childhood overweight and obesity.

Argentine Health Minister Adolfo Rubinstein today opened the G20’s first health-related meeting of the year. The purpose of the Health Working Group is to establish a shared, international agenda on issues such as the strengthening of health systems, malnutrition, and the fight against pandemics.


Rubinstein emphasized the importance of the meeting before representatives of G20 countries and international organizations: “The G20 is a highly significant event for our country. We have two intense days of work ahead of us in the area of health, and this is important because it means that we have a shared agenda with the world’s leading countries.”


The minister also outlined the health agenda priorities for 2018. “The three areas agreed upon are the strengthening of health systems in terms of efficiency, fairness and quality, with a focus on universal health coverage; the problem of malnutrition, with an emphasis on prevention of childhood overweight and obesity; and antimicrobial resistance and the fight against pandemics and health emergencies,” he said.


“All are very relevant issues to public health and we hope to reach a joint declaration that opens the door to establish global policies on these matters,” he said. The meeting continues tomorrow at the CCK, and will focus on malnutrition and, in particular, obesity.


This is the first of three meetings of the Health Working Group this year. The second will be in Geneva in May, and will work on strengthening health systems and emergency response mechanisms in the face of disasters, pandemics and catastrophes. The third meeting will be in Córdoba, Argentina, in October, a day before the meeting of G20 health ministers. The ministers will draft recommendations to be submitted at the Leaders’ Summit on 30 November and 1 December in Buenos Aires.


G20 member delegations participate in all events, as do representatives of the countries invited by the Argentine presidency: Chile and the Netherlands. Several international organizations also take part, including the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the World Bank, and the World Health Organization (WHO).


About the G20

The G20 started out in 1999 as a meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors. In 2008, amidst the global financial crisis, it evolved into what it is today: a major forum that seeks to develop global policies to address today’s most pressing issues. The G20 summits are attended by the heads of state and government of 19 of the world’s leading economies and the EU. Together, the G20 members represent 85% of global GDP, two-thirds of the world’s population and 75% of international trade.