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Coronavirus exposes 'weaknesses' in health systems: G20

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed "systemic weaknesses" in global health systems, the G20 said Monday, but there was no mention of Washington's contentious decision to halt World Health Organization funding.

A handout picture provided by the G20 Media on April 19, 2020 shows Saudi Health Minister Tawfiq al-Rabia chairing a virtual meeting on COVID-19 with the G20 Health Ministers. With the global economy plunged into the worst recession in a century, the Group of 20 nations on Wednesday announced a one-year debt standstill for the world's poorest nations as they struggle to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. The G20, which brings together the world's largest economies, also reiterated the pledge to deploy "all available policy tools" to deal with the health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19. G20MEDIA / AFP
The statement came after health ministers from the 20 most advanced economies held a virtual meeting on Sunday hosted by the group's current president Saudi Arabia following criticism the institution was slow to address the pandemic.

"Health Ministers recognised that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted systemic weaknesses in health systems," they said in a joint statement.

"It also has shown vulnerabilities in the global community’s ability to prevent and respond to pandemic threats.

"Ministers addressed the need to improve the effectiveness of global health systems by sharing knowledge and closing the gap in response capabilities and readiness."

The worldwide death toll from the novel coronavirus pandemic rose to 164,016 on Sunday, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP.

More than 2,363,210 declared cases have been registered in 193 countries and territories since the epidemic first emerged in China in December.

The novel coronavirus has upended the lives of billions of people as nations imposed lockdown measures to curb its spread, sending the global economy into a tailspin.

The G20 statement was silent on US President Donald Trump's decision last week to cut off Washington's bilateral funding to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Trump has accused the UN body of mishandling the coronavirus crisis.

The US contributed $400 million to the WHO last year.

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has condemned the US suspension of funds, saying it was "not the time to reduce" the WHO's resources.

The WHO remained "absolutely critical" in the global fight against the virus, he said.

Topics: coronavirus pandemic , G20 , Donald Trump , Antonio Guterres , United Nations
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