World

G20 health ministers say pandemic reveals ‘systemic weakness’

Bloomberg

Health ministers from the Group of 20 leading economies said the COVID-19 pandemic “has highlighted systemic weaknesses” in health readiness around the world.

The officials commented in a communique issued from Riyadh after a teleconference hosted by Saudi Arabia.

The ministers “addressed the need to improve the effectiveness of global health systems by sharing knowledge and closing the gap in response capabilities and readiness,” they said in the document. They acknowledged the “social-economic impacts” brought on by the spread of coronavirus.

Not mentioned, though, was the World Health Organization, less than a week after U.S. President Donald Trump said he’s temporarily halting funding for the Geneva-based agency.

Officials from WHO, including director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, participated in Sunday’s event. Tedros told attendees that the end of social restrictions aren’t the end of the pandemic.

The meeting was held as some countries — or in the case of the U.S., individual states — prepare to begin easing restrictions aimed at containing the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed more than 160,000 lives around the world.

Trump said April 14 that he’s temporarily halting funding to the WHO, alleging the U.N. agency took China’s claims about the coronavirus “at face value” and failed to share information about the pandemic as it spread.

Since then other countries, including Germany and China, have voiced support for the WHO, and some have said the agency’s financial resources should be increased.

The ministers, in their summary, said Sunday’s meeting addressed “necessary action” to improve preparedness, including the importance of “utilizing digital solutions.”

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