G7 Health Ministers Meet to Prepare for Next Disease Crisis

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Katsunobu Kato, right, speaks at the beginning of the G7 Health Ministers’ meeting in Nagasaki on Saturday.

Health ministers from the Group of Seven industrialized nations began a two-day meeting in Nagasaki on Saturday to discuss stronger international cooperation to prepare for the next infectious disease crisis. The discussions will be based on the more than three years of experience that has been gained in dealing with the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to the G7 health ministers, the meeting is also being attended by India, which is currently chair of the Group of 20, and Indonesia, which is currently chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as well as the Vietnamese health minister.

Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Katsunobu Kato, who chaired the meeting, noted that novel coronavirus pandemic is “finally beginning to settle down.” He added: “Establishing robust health systems in times of peace will contribute to emergency preparedness, and this is the path that the world must pursue.”

While vaccines were available for the coronavirus within a year or so, problems arose when vaccines and therapeutic drugs did not reach low-income countries. For this reason, the meeting’s main theme is the realization globally of “universal health coverage,” where any resident of a country can receive basic health care services, including prevention and treatment, at a cost they can afford to pay.