Indonesia to hold G20 health meeting

Health ministers from the world’s 20 largest countries will thrash out ways to prepare and respond to future disease threats, looking beyond the remaining challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under Indonesia’s G20 presidency, its health minister, Budi Gunadi Sadikin, will convene a meeting on Monday to discuss ways to strengthen global health systems.

Australia’s Health Minister Mark Butler will attend the gathering virtually.

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“Australia welcomes Indonesia’s G20 health priorities and looks forward to working with other countries to ensure the world is better prepared for future disease risks,” Mr Butler said in a statement on Sunday.

“Everyone, no matter where they live and what their circumstances, should have access to quality, affordable and safe health care and as a member of the global community Australia stands ready to help communities in our region and beyond.”

The meeting aims to address concerns and build on the success stories that emerged during the pandemic.

Ministers will consider ways to reduce impediments for travellers as they cross borders, with a pilot project to examine how countries can recognise vaccine certificates used by different jurisdictions, helping get trade and travel back to normal.

The meeting will also discuss building on some of the frameworks that have been so important globally during the pandemic.

Mr Butler says Australia is investing in its own vaccine production capacity and establishing an Australian Centre for Disease Control, helping ensure it is better prepared for future pandemics.

He says the government is also committed to working with the Indo-Pacific region to strengthen health security and respond to the pandemic. 

Australia has already shared more than 40 million vaccine doses and will continue to work with its Quad Vaccine Partners – India, Japan and the US – to distribute them where and when they are needed.

Ministers will also discuss a range of other health priorities including tuberculosis, recognising that while the pandemic has demanded attention, continued efforts are needed to avoid losing progress elsewhere.

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Peter Fray

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