G20: Diseases Threaten Global Economic Growth
WASHINGTON, DC – March 6, 2019
Non-communicable diseases and antimicrobial resistance are as great a threat to the global economy as climate change, and they cannot be contained unless the G20 governments address this issue as a priority for finance and health ministers.
According to a report from the G20 Health and Development Partnership, a global coalition of charities, businesses and academics, the world is failing to invest in the fight against ill health, with countries at risk of being left behind. Governments and finance ministers should “take ownership” of efforts to develop new financing models as in the case of global warming, writes the Financial Times.
“Between now and 2030, deaths from noncommunicable diseases will double in G20 countries, while infectious diseases like tuberculosis are becoming drug resistant,” the report notes. Meanwhile, infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, become resistant to antibiotics.
The report recommends new models to overcome the so-called "10-90" gap, where less than 10% of world health resources benefit developing countries, which experience more than 90% of infectious diseases.
“We need more concerted activity for research and development to tackle this existential crisis. This is no longer just an issue for health ministers, it is now an issue for heads of government and for finance ministers because of the threat to the global economy as well as to humanity,” said Alan Donnelly, convener of the G20 Health and Development Partnership.
"Government funding isn’t going to fix this alone,” he added.
According to the World Bank, pandemics can destroy up to 1% of global GDP, which is comparable to the impact of such priority threats as climate change.
“Good health is clearly one of the ways in which countries can more rapidly lift themselves higher, through ensuring access to quality health services,” Lord Jim O’Neill, chair of the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House, wrote in the report published on Tuesday. “But most health services have been set up as separate parts of the state and were not integrated into long term economic planning.”
The partnership is presenting the report to the heads of government finance and health ministers in advance of the joint G20 health and finance ministers’ meeting in Japan in June.
“If we get the G20 countries on board, other non G20 countries will follow,” said Mr Donnelly. “I am confident of support, many are interested because it’s not about getting [governments] to give more money, but getting society more engaged in this in a structured way.”