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G-7 ministers to discuss emergency responses to pandemics at Kobe meet

Kyodo

Health ministers from the Group of Seven industrialized countries began a meeting in Kobe on Sunday to discuss global health issues, including coordinated emergency responses to outbreaks of infectious diseases.

Health minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki said at the start of the two-day meeting that he hopes the chiefs will work together in efforts to realize a healthier world.

At the meeting, the World Health Organization gave a progress report on a manual for procedures to respond to high-severity disease outbreaks, while the ministers discussed the mechanism for the G-7 countries to take coordinated steps to respond to emergency situations.

The procedure manual is being compiled after the WHO faced criticism that it responded too slowly to the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa in 2014 due to the lack of an initial response mechanism.

The G-7 nations — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, as well as the European Union — aim to combat the growing risks of high-severity diseases spreading from developing nations amid global warming and advances in transportation systems.

The health ministers are expected to issue a joint declaration at the end of the meeting Monday.