Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia leads virtual G20 summit of health ministers

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Saudi Arabia hosted a virtual G20 summit of health ministers from the Group of 20 major economies on Sunday with the aim of discussing joint efforts in the global fight against the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

Member countries will be joined by leaders from Spain, Singapore, Jordan and Switzerland as well as international and regional organizations, including the World Health Organization and the World Bank, a separate G20 statement said.

“G20 Ministers emphasized that people’s health and well-being are at the heart of all decisions taken to protect lives, tackle illness, strengthen global health security, and alleviate the socio-economic impacts resulting from COVID-19. They also shared national experiences and adopted preventative measures to contain the pandemic,” according to a final statement following the conclusion of the virtual meeting.

The health ministers also addressed the need for urgent actions to improve pandemic preparedness and the importance of utilizing digital solutions in current and future pandemics.

“As ministers of health, these challenging times have been an eye opener. We have uncovered the gaps in our health systems and the endless opportunities of improvements. We have also learned the importance of taking all necessary measures, as severe as they may seem to ensure the health, safety and well-being of the population,” said Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Health Tawfiq al-Rabiah in his opening remarks before the meeting.

“A set of urgent actions have also been developed to ensure proper global pandemic preparedness and response by furthering collaborations and engaging international organizations to facilitate coordinated responses in combating this pandemic, with emphasis on supporting countries in need,” al-Rabiah added.

The Saudi Arabia’s health minister then pointed out to the $500 million the Kingdom, which is currently holding the G20 presidency this year, to finance the international efforts deployed to tackle this pandemic.

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