Not yet UHC Superheroes but a welcome change from the G7

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Earlier this week, I blogged about what would be needed to judge the G7 to be Universal Health Coverage Superheroes.

This has been our campaign at the G7 and our images of the leaders as manga superheroes has definitely excited the world’s media here in Ise-Shima.

While Europe has been sleeping, we now have the official Declaration from the leaders and and the G7 Ise-Shima Vision for Global Health so we can see what they have promised.

A strong endorsement

They have strongly supported UHC, largely thanks to the Japanese government’s determination. This is not a small matter.

With many people cynical or opposed to UHC, to have the G7 endorse it as “comprehensive framework that underpins all of the [SDG] targets” is very welcome.

They did not fall into the trap of appearing to support UHC only to avoid the infectious diseases that jump on planes but say that it is important to women, children and adolescent’s health and for sexual and reproductive health and rights.

They have also – as we asked – specifically supported the establishment of an UHC2030 Alliance to try to drive momentum and coordination for UHC.

However they have not committed to put any funding into it which is disappointing as without funds it will not be as powerful as we need it to be.

They also call for a UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for UHC which would be a powerful step towards reducing the fragmented world of global health.

Important steps

They are more reticent about whether they will change what they do as bilateral and multilateral donors to countries.

Unless this changes, recipient governments will continue to have to deal with fragmented aid architecture and many competing reporting mechanisms that undermine UHC.

The G7 has endorsed existing commitments to tax transparency and support the Addis Tax Initiative to help developing countries increase their tax take.

This is essential for countries to build UHC and reduce illicit financial flows but there was no commitment to close tax havens which hold so much money stolen from the people of poor countries.

So how to do we judge them? Superheroes? That is definitely too strong. Heroes? Maybe not yet.

But having the G7 change its focus from disease initiatives to building Universal Health Coverage is an very important step in the changing world of global health.

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