Jul 10, 2010 Volume 376 Number 9735 Pages 69 – 140
G8–G20: standing at a crossroads
All eyes were on Canada, as first the G8 summit in Muskoka and then the G20 summit in Toronto delivered their visions for the future. It is the first time that the two groups have met so close in time and space, and provides an opportunity to gauge what we can and should expect in terms of global health governance from two very different groups.
A welcome cornerstone of the G8′s final communiqué was the Muskoka Initiative, which seeks to raise US$30 billion of new funds from G8 members plus a group of non-G8 countries over the next 5 years to meet Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 on maternal, newborn, and child health. However, with the 2011 G8 hosts, France, yet to commit to keeping maternal, newborn, and child health on next year’s agenda, and with the G8 still licking its wounds after falling $15 billion short of its 2005 Gleneagles commitments, there is ample opportunity for the G20 to seize the initiative on global health.
The G20 were willing to take up the slack from the G8 on that most benighted of issues, financial regulation. On June 23, 2010, we published a Viewpoint by Sudeep Chand and colleagues that posed the question: should health be next? Judging by the final communiqué from Toronto, the G20 does not yet have an answer. The communiqué mentions health only once, in the context of strengthening social safety nets. However, it did commit to forming a Working Group on Development tasked with devising a development agenda to be outlined at the Seoul G20 summit in November. Health has to be central to this agenda.
Brazil, Russia, India, and China signalled their intention to take a more active role in world affairs in June last year, with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev marking the first ever summit between the four countries by saying they wanted to “create the conditions for a fairer world order”. These countries have the political and economic capital to set the G20 agenda on health, so let us hope they recognise that health security is not an optional extra for a stable and prosperous world.