FIND statement on priority 1 at the G20 health ministers’ meeting in India

Priority 1

Health emergencies prevention, preparedness and response (with focus on One Health and AMR)

Delivered by Bill Rodriguez, FIND CEO
Gandhinagar, India, 18 August 2023

Chair, your excellencies, colleagues, thank you. Let me fist thank the Indian Presidency and the Chair for their leadership of the Health Working Group throughout the year.
At the outset of today’s meeting, we heard in Sanskrit a summary of the past 3 years. I appreciate the translation, which said:

“The darkness emanating from the Corona period pervaded the whole world and due to lack of guidance, the whole world was paralyzed.”

There is poetry in those words, in Sanskrit or in English in or any language. Behind the poetry is the stark reality: the darkness that descended was a lack of testing, a lack of surveillance, poor diagnostic preparedness, and because we were unprepared, we sat in darkness and remained paralyzed for 100s of days. In India, in Indonesia, in Brazil, in every G20 country, and across the world.

The first step to safeguarding human health is to detect health threats.

We must acknowledge that at present, many of the critical diagnostic tests we need to detect those threats are lacking. The tests we need to address AMR are lacking. The tests we need for a OneHealth response as climate change introduces new threats, known and unknown—Ebola, Zika, mpox, new coronaviruses, zoonotic diseases—are completely lacking.

Our efforts—today, this week, this year–for prevention, preparedness, and response are at risk of failure unless we dedicate ourselves to understanding those threats, developing new tests, , and putting them into use for rapid detection and response at the primary health care level. We are not there yet.

In Japan, G7 Ministers committed to improve preparedness through the 100 Days Mission for diagnostics. Here in Gujarat, the G20 countries have committed to a OneHealth Mission and equitable access to medical countermeasures, including diagnostics. As a strategic partner of WHO, FIND stands ready to support the global community and all Member States in establishing true diagnostic preparedness. FIND implores you, implores all of us, to not retreat into darkness. I personally urge the Member States to significantly increase investments in testing and diagnostic preparedness.

We cannot see what lies ahead. Let us not sit in darkness and paralysis, but in light, and action. Let us not passively await the next pandemic, but act to prevent it. Accurate diagnosis is the foundation for everything we do in health. FIND cannot act alone, no Member State can act alone, WHO cannot act alone, but acting together, through your support and your commitment, we can shine light into that darkness, prepare for and respond to the threats we all face together. Thank you.