This year global health was for the first time in the agenda of the G-20 summit held in Hamburg, Germany. The G20 leaders’ declaration was published on July 10, including a section on Safeguarding against Health Crises and Strengthening Health Systems and on Combatting Antimicrobial Resistance.

World leaders recalled their goal to achieve universal health coverage and committed to fully eradicate polio. They also addressed the issue of drug-resistant infections, especially Tuberculosis, with an increased financing commitment to tackle this disease that affects mostly developing countries. The need to advance preparedness and responsiveness against global health emergencies was recognized as well.

The World Health Organization has been identified as having a central coordinating role for capacity building and response to health emergencies. G20 leaders expressed their commitment to foster research and development activities through globally coordinated models to improve health and encouraged countries and International Organizations to strengthen cooperation in order to overcome the significant health challenges posed by mass movements of people.

However, some other global health issues deserving attention were not discussed during the Summit. In particular, the topic of attacks on medical facilities was not addressed. Under the Statute of the International Criminal Court, intentionally directing attacks against hospitals and medical units using the distinctive emblems of the Geneva Conventions constitutes a war crime in international armed conflicts.

Many NGO’s and International organizations, and in particular the international medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), called on G20 leaders to address this urgent issue and take action to stop the practice of bombing medical units and killing medical personnel in countries at war.

You can read the press release of MSF on this topic here.

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(Hospital bombed in Gaza, 2014. Photo credit: CNN)

 

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