The G7 and G20 summits are annual forums for heads of state to discuss global foreign policy issues. Global health issues—including neglected tropical disease (NTD) control and elimination—are often a topic of discussion among member countries, particularly those of the G7, also known as the Group of Seven. The Global Network, along with its partners, is working to increase awareness of NTDs among G7 and G20 leaders by participating in several advocacy forums, including G7 and G20 civil society working groups and various global health conferences, and publishing policy papers that highlight the impact of NTDs on the global agenda.
The G7 Summit is an annual forum, where the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan the United Kingdom and the United States gather together to weigh in on global, economic, political and social issues of mutual interest. From 1998 through 2014, Russia was also included in the annual forum, making it the G8 or Group of Eight.
The most recent G7 Summit, held in 2015 at Schloss Elmau in Bavaria, Germany, included neglected tropical diseases as one of the group’s top development agenda items. The global NTD community rallied together to write the first-ever Open Letter to G7 Heads of State on Neglected Tropical Diseases, calling for urgent and concrete action to fight NTDs. The Leaders’ Declaration included the clear commitment to “invest in the prevention and control of NTDs in order to achieve 2020 elimination goals” through research and development, disease mapping, and community-based health systems strengthening. To read more about the 2015 G7 Declaration, please see the Global Network’s statement, “Celebrating a Victory: The G7 Commitment to Fight against NTDs.”
The G7 has a history of commitments to end NTDs. You can find the full list of commitments from 1998 to the present day listed here. During the 1997 Denver Summit, former Prime Minister of Japan Ryutaro Hashimoto introduced the Global Parasite Control Initiative. The landmark Hashimoto Initiative was formally established the following year during the 1998 Birmingham Summit, elevating the importance of parasitic disease control as a vital component of improving global health.
Russia hosted the 2006 St. Petersburg G8 Summit, and was the first to make infectious diseases, including NTDs, a priority agenda item of the G8. In 2008, the Hokkaido-Toyako Summit in Japan marked another milestone, when G8 leaders committed to reach at least 75 percent of people affected by certain major NTDs with sustained action for three to five years through mass drug administration and through integrated measures that enhance access to safe water and proper sanitation.
While G8 leaders did not discuss NTDs at the 2013 G8 summit, the 2013 G8 Accountability Report outlined previous commitments to increase funding for NTD research and development and the efforts made to date. Additionally, the UK government and other partners held the ‘Nutrition for Growth’ event on the sidelines of the Summit, which resulted in the mobilization of $4.15 billion to improve nutrition. At the event, GlaxoSmithKline highlighted the important link between NTDs and malnutrition in the 2013 Global Nutrition for Growth Compact. To read more about the 2013 G8 summit, please see “NTDs and the G8: The 2013 Summit in Review,” posted on End the Neglect.
The 2016 G7 Summit will be held in Mie Prefecture, Japan. Japan has a laudable history of addressing NTDs, particularly at G7 and G8 summits. Following World War II, the Japanese government led a campaign to control five NTDs, eliminating them as a domestic public health threat within one decade. The country then applied its experience to global health. The Japanese Prime Minister introduced the Hashimoto Initiative for Global Parasite Control at the 1997 G7 summit, the first initiative of its kind. Japan also led the way for the 2000 Okinawa Infectious Disease Initiative and the 2008 Tokyo Framework for Action on Global Health while hosting the 2000 and 2008 G8 summits.
Since 1999, the G20 has brought together heads of state and finance ministers of the world’s leading 20 economies, and as such, preparatory discussions and annual summits have historically focused on economic and financial topics. While G20 leaders have not directly addressed global health challenges or NTDs, the 2009 G20 Framework for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth recognized the links between development and global economic challenges, with a commitment to “promote balanced and sustainable economic development in order to narrow development imbalances and reduce poverty.” Leaders also recognized their responsibility to invest in people by providing healthcare, education and fighting poverty.
G20 leaders advanced discussions further at the June 2010 G20 Toronto Summit, resulting in an agreement to establish a Development Working Group with the recognition that “Narrowing the development gap and reducing poverty are integral to our broader objective of achieving strong, sustainable and balanced growth and ensuring a more robust and resilient global economy for all.”
Later that year, leaders agreed to 2010 Seoul Development Consensus for Shared Growth along with the accompanying Multi-Year Action Plan on Development. Nine key principles were identified that can act as barriers to inclusive and sustainable growth in developing countries, including: infrastructure, human resource development, trade, private investment and job creation, food security, resilient growth, financial inclusion, domestic resource mobilization and knowledge sharing. Since then, the G20 has issued regular accountability and progress reports from the G20 Development Working Group.
In advance of the 2013 G20 St. Petersburg Summit, the Global Network published its 2013 G20 Call to Action, calling attention to how NTDs serve as a barrier to the G20’s efforts to realize sustainable development outcomes.
Although no concrete actions were taken to tackle global health and NTDs, the resulting St. Petersburg Development Outlook does highlight the importance of achieving food security, financial inclusion and human resource development, all of which are directly impacted by NTDs. The St. Petersburg Accountability Report on G20 Development Commitments called attention to the unique value that the G20 can collectively play in improving development outcomes, with the convening power of 19 leading economies and the EU and accounting for about 90 percent of global GDP.
In response, the Global Network published a blog on End the Neglect, "2013 2013 Summit: Das Vi Danya to NTDs?" and issued a statement "Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases Reacts to the G20 St. Petersburg Development Outlook."
Click here to read our 2014 G20 Call to Action. Dr. Mirta Roses, NTD Special Envoy, weighed in on International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, urging G20 leaders to tackle NTDs as a way to stimulate economic growth among the world’s most vulnerable populations. Her blog "How to Ensure We Leave No One Behind on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty" can be found here.
The 2014 G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia, included discussions of broader development topics including climate change and the Ebola outbreak, as well as food security and nutrition. To read more about the Summit outcomes, please see here.
Turkey assumed the G20 Presidency in December 2014, making development one of the topics of its 2015 agenda. The Global Network encourages Turkish policymakers and other G20 leaders to include global health and NTDs in their development discussions in 2015.
By investing in NTD control and elimination, the G20 has an opportunity to unlock the social and economic potential of the world’s most marginalized communities and mobilize new drivers of growth across the globe.
- List of G7/8 commitments to fighting NTDs
- Global Network Statement on 2015 G7 Leaders’ Declaration
- 2015: Open Letter on NTDs to G7 Heads of State
- G7 Science Academies’ Statement 2015: Neglected Tropical Diseases
- 2015 G7 Summit Recommendations (InterAction)
- 2015: Call to Action to the G7: Investing in healthy outcomes
- 2014: G20 Call to Action
- 2013: Huffington Post: An Example To Follow: Japan's Historic Commitment To Infectious Disease Control
- End the Neglect: 2013 G20 Summit: Das Vi Danya to NTDs?
- 2013: Travel Report: Global Network Addresses Opportunity to Include NTDs in Global Economic Agenda
- 2013: Statement by the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases on the G20 Summit
Photos by Pete Souza and Flickr user Gobierno de Chile.