UK invites India to join G7 Health Ministers' Summit virtually

PTI
London, United Kingdom Published: May 20, 2021, 06:45 PM(IST)

In this handout photo taken on August 25, 2019 by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the sidelines of the annual G7 summit in Biarritz, south-west France Photograph:( AFP )

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The two-day talks will engage virtually with the G7 Presidency's guest countries; India, South Korea, Australia and South Africa

India is among the guest countries invited to join virtually at the 2021 G7 Health Ministers' Meeting to be held at Oxford University on June 3 and 4 to bring together the world's leading democracies to agree on life-saving action in critical areas of global health, the UK government announced on Thursday.

The University of Oxford has been chosen for its role at the heart of the global fight against COVID-19, with world-leading clinical trials and its not-for-profit partnership with AstraZeneca on COVID-19 vaccines.

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Attendees will come together to address the issues of global health security, antimicrobial resistance, clinical trials, and digital health and the discussions will inform the G7 Leaders' Summit in Cornwall a week later between June 11 and 13.

"Oxford is the birthplace of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and at the heart of British life sciences. Oxford is a perfect location to stage pivotal meetings on how the world readies itself to combat future health threats," said UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

"Collectively we can build back better from this virus and, as I gather with my Ministerial counterparts from the major democratic nations, we have an opportunity to learn from this pandemic and take measures that will develop global health security," he said.

The summit forms part of the UK's 2021 presidency of the Group of Seven, which includes the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US and the European Union, and will bring together health ministers from these nations in a physical setting.

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However, the UK government said that the two-day talks will also engage virtually with the G7 Presidency's guest countries; India, South Korea, Australia and South Africa.

"Oxford University is honoured to host the G7 Health Ministers. This past year has demonstrated just how much can be accomplished when universities, business and government work together to advance global health," said Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford.

"We hope that in the course of this meeting insights and information will be shared, ideas generated, and lasting partnerships forged. In particular, we hope that as a result of this meeting plans will be developed to ensure that we are never again caught unprepared for a pandemic," she said.

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There will be a working ministerial dinner on the evening of June 3 attended by senior representatives from the life sciences industry, who are planning to convene concurrently in Oxford to discuss the themes under the UK Prime Minister's Pandemic Preparedness Partnership between public and private sectors and key issues on the health agenda for the summit.

"As a county with a world-class reputation for cutting-edge research and innovation in life sciences and healthcare, we look forward to welcoming our guests and hope that their time here contributes to strengthening partnerships and boosting collaboration in managing current and future global health threats," said Councillor Liz Leffman, Oxfordshire County Council Leader.

Oxford City Council Leader, Councillor Susan Brown, added: "Our city has rightly become synonymous with excellence in life science research and manufacturing. We are proud that Oxford's name is carried by the vaccine used most widely across the world.

"There is a real opportunity for those gathered to step up international support for the vaccination programmes still only in their early stages in many developing countries, particularly in Africa."

G7 countries account for two thirds of the world's pharmaceutical markets and the three vaccines licensed for use in the UK were all developed in G7 nations; the UK, US and Germany.

As host of this year's G7 Presidency, the UK says it is determined to work with its partners to "build back better" from coronavirus and strengthen global preparedness for potential future pandemics.

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