G-7 to consider creating new body to coordinate efforts to combat infectious diseases

JIJI

The Group of Seven major industrialized countries are considering creating an organization that will serve as a liaison in international efforts to combat infectious diseases, according to informed sources.

The body will ensure the coordination of international agencies, governments and private entities so that they can respond quickly and efficiently to outbreaks of infectious diseases such as Ebola and Zika that cross national borders, the sources said on Saturday.

Japan, as this year’s G-7 chair, has proposed the creation of such an organization to its G-7 peers—Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the United States. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration hopes to include a plan to create the entity in a joint statement to be adopted at the summit scheduled to be held May 26-27 in Mie Prefecture.

Because there are limitations as to what the World Health Organization alone can do, Tokyo has judged that a new body to play a coordinating role needs to be established, the sources said.

The G-7 countries will work out the details of the new body, including its structure and whether it should be established under the United Nations.

At the time of the Ebola outbreak in 2014, the U.N. Mission for Ebola Emergency Response was established as a temporary coordinating body.

But critics pointed to the failures of the WHO, the U.N. World Food Program, the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and Doctors Without Borders in their effort to try to coordinate their efforts.

By creating a powerful control organization, the G-7 countries hope to enhance the effectiveness of support measures provided by international bodies, the sources said.

When health professionals from the G-7 counties held a meeting in Tokyo last month, Japan sought out the opinions of participants on the need for a centralized coordinating body, eventually winning their support, the sources also said.

At the Ise-Shima summit in central Japan, the G-7 countries will also aim to agree on ways to reform the WHO in order to enhance its crisis management capacities and on the introduction of a fund-raising framework for possible future outbreaks of infectious diseases.