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G20 Summit: Breakthrough on health financing likely

Under India’s presidency, the G20 Leaders’ summit is likely to see a breakthrough in the domain of health financing.

In recent discussions on health and finance, member countries have strongly expressed the need to ensure swift and adequate financing, especially in the wake of the experience of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to people familiar with the matter. But it is possible that the financing mechanism can go beyond pandemic responses and address other health challenges, especially in low and middle income countries.

The G20 Joint Finance-Health Task Force (JFHTF) is already looking at optimising pandemic response financing mechanisms.

“Several measures regarding financial arrangements to deal with health related emergencies like the Covid outbreak in future were discussed during the G20 joint finance and health ministers meeting that will formally take shape as we go forward. There are likely some key announcements to be made in the Summit regarding funding of countries, especially to help low and middle income countries,” said a person familiar with the negotiations, requesting anonymity.

The G20 Joint Finance-Health Task Force is a mechanism meant to deepen collaboration between finance and health streams. According to the minutes of earlier discussions held between G20 health ministers and shared by the government, the role of the task force is to strive to mitigate economic vulnerabilities and risks from pandemics and improving readiness for large-scale pandemic response interventions, including exploring how pandemic response financing mechanisms can be optimised, better coordinated and when necessary, suitably enhanced.

The first call for proposals of the pandemic fund that was created last year under Indonesia’s presidency, is over, and the second call for proposals is expected by the end of 2023. Call for proposals is to look at projects being awarded under the fund. But even though government officials have been discreet, there are indications that the fund may see the involvement of new donors and greater co-investment.

In the future, the task force is also likely to include development of an operational play book to ensure swift and adequate pandemic response financing; development of pandemic stress test; and strengthen the supportive role of task force to WHO in global health architecture, while duly considering country specific circumstances, according to people familiar with the matter.

The key deliverables brought out under the Indian Presidency include the Framework for Economic Vulnerabilities and Risks (FEVR) and the report on mapping pandemic response financing options and gaps.

The G20 finance and health ministers have agreed to continuously strengthen the global health architecture for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response (PPR) through enhanced collaboration between finance and health ministers, with the multi-year work plan of the task force that has been approved under the Indian Presidency.

“The global health architecture is going to see a major change, as the biggest lesson from the Covid pandemic is that no one is safe until everyone is safe,” added the person cited above. Hindustan Times

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