Setting the global health agenda – India’s G20 Presidency and Its Focus on Global Health | 16 September 2023 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

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What's the article about?

  • It talks about the India's G20 Presidency and its focus on Global Health.


  • GS2: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources; Essay

India's Leadership in Keeping Health at the Forefront of the G20 Agenda:

  • India's G20 Presidency, under the theme of “People, Planet, Prosperity,” focused on various aspects of global health, ensuring that it remained a priority throughout the discussions and initiatives.
  • Key achievements and initiatives include:
    • Promoting inclusive and resilient global health systems: India's overarching goals as the G20 President included promoting inclusive and resilient global health systems, with a focus on gathering diverse perspectives and expertise to shape policies.
    • Enhancing collaboration within the pharmaceutical industry: India emphasized the importance of collaboration within the pharmaceutical industry to ensure accessible and equitable global healthcare.
    • Supporting the World Health Organization (WHO) in digital health initiatives: The G20 Presidency, supported by India, launched a new Global Initiative on Digital Health, recognizing WHO's unique role and strengths in this area.
    • Bringing the Global South and North together in healthcare: India's presidency aimed to bridge the gap between the Global South and North in healthcare, with a focus on medical care, vaccine research, production, and distribution.
    • Strengthening global health architecture: The G20 declaration, unanimously adopted by the heads of G20 nations, committed to strengthening global health architecture and building more resilient, equitable, sustainable, and health systems to achieve Universal Health Coverage.
    • Addressing non-communicable diseases (NCDs): While the G20 declaration did not specifically mention NCDs, India's focus on strengthening health systems and promoting universal access to healthcare indirectly addresses the challenges posed by NCDs.
  • India's leadership in keeping health at the forefront of the G20 agenda has been crucial in addressing the ongoing and future challenges in global public health. By prioritizing collaboration, resilience, and equity, India has played a significant role in shaping the G20's approach to healthcare and strengthening global health systems.


  • India's G20 Presidency took place when the world was emerging from the worst phase of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The global public health community was apprehensive about whether the pandemic catalysed attention of policymakers to health would dissipate as economic and political priorities crowd the agenda of G20.
  • However, India ensured that health was not sidelined at G20, and discussions on health featured not only in meetings convened by the health ministry but also in those convened by scientific academies (S20), civil society (C20), think tanks (T20), and other groups too.
  • The final declaration, Delhi Declaration, unanimously adopted by heads of G20 nations on September 9, 2023, provided a prominent place for health.
  • Key Points of the Declaration:
    • Strengthening global health architecture and building more resilient, equitable, sustainable and health systems to achieve Universal Health Coverage.
    • Strengthening the primary care and health workforce while improving essential health services and health systems to better than pre-pandemic levels.
    • Reaffirming faith in WHO as the world’s premier public health agency, placing it at the core of coordinated global health efforts.
    • Emphasis on infectious diseases, from eradication of polio to ending AIDS, TB, malaria, hepatitis, waterborne diseases and other communicable diseases.
    • Promoting the ‘One Health’ programme through the ‘Quadripartite’, a coalition of WHO, World Organisation of Animal Health (WOAH), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
    • Combating and containing anti-microbial resistance (AMR) as part of the One Health initiatives at national and global levels.
    • Providing equitable access to safe, effective, quality assured and affordable vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics (VTDs) and other medical countermeasures.
    • Developing local capacities for research and development, manufacturing, and last mile delivery.
    • Creating a network of networks connecting low and middle income countries (LMICs) and other developing countries.
    • Developing climate-resilient and low carbon health systems.
    • Promoting mental health and improving access to mental health services as well as provision of psychosocial support in an inclusive manner.
    • Strong international counter-narcotics cooperation to curb the growing menace of addictive drugs.

Way Forward:

  • While the declaration highlights many vital areas of action for protecting and promoting global health, it strangely does not refer to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which are the largest contributors to the global toll of deaths and disability.
  • The welcome addition of the African Union to the membership of G20 from this year may bring forth such LMIC priorities strongly in future G20 deliberations.
  • For now, we must congratulate India for keeping health in focus at G20 and in achieving consensus on many important areas of global health where international cooperation is vital.

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