“Keep people healthy to keep countries wealthy”, urges think tank ahead of G20 Health and Finance Ministers’ meeting
The joint meeting of the G20 Health and Finance Ministers is set to discuss the ongoing effort against the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide. A leaked document showed the commitment of the G20 to financing pandemic preparedness, but global health experts remain sceptical.
One of those comes from Think Tank International Longevity Centre UK (ILC). Its Director, David Sinclair, said: “It’s promising to see G20 Health and Finance Ministers coming together at this crucial time. COVID-19 has shown us first-hand that health equals wealth, as countries across the world have plunged into one of the hardest-hitting global recessions of the last century.”
The expert went on to say that in an ageing world, coming out of this recession will rely on governments across the G20 better engaging older workers, older consumers, older volunteers and older carers, who contribute immensely to the global economy. In the UK alone, 54p in every pound is spent by people aged 50 and over, potentially boosting GDP by 2% every year by 2040. And across the G20, the picture is much the same.”
“But during COVID-19, older people have been disproportionately locked out of working, spending, caring and volunteering. And we know that health is a key barrier to maximising the potential of an ageing society,” Sinclair continued.
ILC is about to release a report which key highlights have been made public. These show that across better-off countries, in 2017 alone, 27.1 million years were lived with largely preventable age-related diseases, leading to more than $600 billion worth of lost productivity every year. In the UK alone, about a million people aged 50-64 are forced out of work as a result of health and care needs or caring responsibilities.
“If we are to deliver a potential longevity dividend, in the post-pandemic recovery and beyond, we need to ensure we are supporting people to not just live longer, but also healthier lives and promoting preventative health interventions right across the life course,” Sinclair added.
And he concluded with: “Fundamentally, in the post-pandemic recovery and as we plan for the future of an ageing society, we need to keep people healthy to keep countries wealthy. The cost of failing to adapt to the needs of an ageing society is simply too high to ignore.”
The joint meeting of the G20 Health and Finance Ministers' agenda was leaked earlier this week in a draft statement. In there, ministers concede that “major gaps still exist in global pandemic preparedness and response” and commit to closing them.
“We recognize the important link between investment in public health and economic resilience and growth, both in countering the current crisis and in the long term,” the draft communique reads.
“We will work together to lay the foundation for targeted actions to help respond to the most immediate challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and ensure that the world is better prepared to curb the impact of future health-related crises,” it later adds.