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Future of Health Systems – How should they be shaped to better prepare for pandemics?

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the global health system fundamentally upside down. Never before have production capacities, global supply chains and the distribution of medicines been so much at the centre of the political and socially debate as they are today. Both the strengths of the health industry and its weaknesses became apparent during the pandemic. For this reason, the question arises within the framework of the B7: How do we prepare for future crisis?

Pandemic and crisis prevention, preparedness and responses must be planned across borders to be effective. It requires sustained political leadership, political will, global coordination, regulatory alignment, solidarity and continuing financing. 

1. Strengthen health systems and ensuring investments in health

In order to make health systems more resilient when facing and responding to future health threats, the G7 should ensure strategic investments into health. These investments should allow for predictable and long-term health financing as the foundation for strong health systems, which includes prevention and early detection, infrastructure, human resources, a reliable supply of medicines and technologies, and evidence-based policies.

2. Ensure equitable access to critical vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics globally

As part of future pandemic response, the key drivers of access to medical products such as supply chains, open markets, health care delivery capabilities, and efficient regulatory approval processes should be strengthened. Strong multilateral cooperation and collaboration, which includes public-private partnerships, will support successful outcomes.

3. Promote innovation and improve the digitalization of health

We must continue to invest into the digitalization of healthcare by creating an interoperable environment where high-quality data can be shared and used to drive innovation and develop new health products. In particular, the use of health data, which is possible worldwide, must be enabled by appropriate technical standards, regulatory coordination and investment in digital infrastructures.

Simultaneously, we must protect intellectual property to enable innovators to finance ongoing investments in R&D. The G7 should ensure that IP-related incentives for innovation and knowledge sharing are maintained or strengthened.  In this respect, the G7 must advocate for sufficient intellectual property rights protection for pandemic goods in the context of the WTO-TRIPS waiver.

For this to succeed, it is crucial that health is permanently integrated in the G7. This requires the establishment of a continuous "Health Task Force" in the G7 to ensure continuity of work and to track the progress of decisions taken in the past by the B7/G7 on health.

These and more recommendations are developed within the B7 Health Policy Working Group to strengthen  Health Sytems  and encounter pandemics with more responsibility and more effective strategies in the future.