Mr Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Health, attended the G20 Health Ministers’ Meeting (HMM) in Rome, Italy, from 5 to 6 September 2021.
2. The G20 HMM discussed strategies to tackle the current COVID-19 situation, and how countries can collectively be better prepared for future pandemics. Attendees included the G20 and invited countries, as well as several international and regional organisations. Singapore attended the G20 HMM as a guest country at the invitation of Italy, the current G20 presidency.
3. The G20 HMM adopted a Health Ministers’ Declaration that emphasised the importance of strong multilateral collaboration in managing the COVID-19 pandemic and supporting global recovery, with the WHO taking a central and leading role. The Health Ministers also agreed that vaccination was key, and set a target of vaccinating at least 40% of the world by the end of the year. The declaration recognised the wide-ranging impact of COVID-19, including on mental health and on progress in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals1. The declaration also underscored the need to continue joint efforts to better prevent, detect and respond to future global health risks and emergencies.
4. During the three thematic discussions, Mr Ong emphasised the need for stronger global governance and financing to better prepare for future pandemics. He called for concrete follow-up on the reforms recommended by the G20 High Level Independent Panel co-chaired by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Lawrence Summers and Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, and to support the WHO’s key role at the centre of global health security. Mr Ong also emphasised the importance of coordinating efforts in urban development, environment management, social assistance, education and healthcare in strengthening health emergency preparedness particularly in an urban setting, and in supporting equitable access to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.
5. Mr Ong had bilateral meetings with his counterparts from the US, UK, Indonesia, Germany, France and Spain on the sidelines of the G20 HMM as well. He will hold meetings with the Italian Ministry of Health and the Italian National Institute of Health tomorrow. The Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice.