G7 health ministers pledge to increase access to vaccines in joint statement

The Group of Seven health ministers have wrapped up their two-day meeting in Japan, with a pledge to increase access to vaccines, treatment drugs and test kits for future public health emergencies.

The ministers issued a joint statement on Sunday as they closed the meeting in the southwestern city of Nagasaki.

The statement calls for fair and swift distribution of medical supplies in the event of a future pandemic, as many developing countries had difficulty getting access to COVID-19 vaccines.

It also stresses the importance of sustainable fund procurement to strengthen responses to infectious diseases. It calls on all nations to enhance their financial and political support for a pandemic fund established at the World Bank last year.

The statement also says that the G7 countries will draw up and implement a new action plan to realize universal health coverage around the world by 2030. It is defined as a state in which all people have access to appropriate preventive, therapeutic and other health care services at a cost they can afford.

Japanese health minister Kato Katsunobu chaired the meeting. He told reporters he wants to use the discussion as the basis for the upcoming G7 summit in Hiroshima and other international forums, as well as the basis for international cooperation.

The health ministers visited Nagasaki Peace Park to pay their respects to the victims of the US atomic bombing in 1945.

This was the first time for G7 ministers to jointly offer flowers at the park.