H20 International Health Summit (Melbourne)
Leaders from over 20 advanced and emerging economies met in Brisbane, Australia from November 15-16, 2014 to focus on the core issues of economic growth and resilience at the G20 Leaders Summit . Concerned with the absence of a discussion around health as an enabler of economic growth and an important part of the economy as “the greatest social capital a national can have", the World Medical Association, the Australian Medical Association and the Australian Medical Association Victoria, hosted the first international Health 20 summit – the H20 (#H20Melb on twitter).
With the theme “Healthy people, successful economy” the summit brought together medical professions leaders, experts and movers and shakers to discuss:
- Health as a wise investment
- The burden of non-communicable diseases
- Social determinants of health
- Health effects of climate change and how to tackle these
Tana Wuliji, ASSIST Senior Improvement Advisor and Health Workforce Development Unit Lead, in presenting conclusions on the final day of the summit highlighted the (1) growing interconnectedness and interdependencies of economies globally, representing an ecosystem with both vulnerabilities and opportunities, (2) constant and amplifying changes in geopolitics, demographics, socio-economics, and environment that can impact health, and that (3) the resilience of economies is by both design and capacity which in turn reflect the extent to which nations are able to build and leverage its social capital in health. Health workers must not only continue to advocate for better investments in health to strengthen health systems, but also advocate for the importance of investing for health to ensure that economic, social, political, and climate changes do not come at the cost of health but rather create the conditions for health.
Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, Chair of the World Medical Association Council and the #H20Melb lead organizer expressed her thoughts about the summit: "The WMA Council has sought to be proactive and to emphasize that health is not a bottomless pit of unproductive expenditure that has to be reined in, but rather a positive and worthy investment. A productive society depends on a healthy engaged and confident workforce.
"Addressing the challenges surrounding non-communicable diseases, the social determinants of health, the health aspects of climate change and the post-2015 sustainability development goals are all imperative."
Whilst health was not featured officially on the G20 summit agenda, its concluding communique reflected the need to support efforts to stop Ebola with greater capacity building, working with local resources, providing support and strengthening systems.
ASSIST congratulates the WMA on this successful summit and welcomes the news that future H20 summits will be held to continue to advocate for the need to put health on the G20 agenda.