UK government will prioritize global health security in response to Global Health, Global Britain report

The UK government has officially responded to the parliamentary committee on Foreign Affairs’ recent report on ‘Global Health, Global Britain’ and its recommendations for strengthening the UK’s approach to global health security.

The UK government welcomed the report and affirmed that global health security remains a priority, noting the Prime Minister’s five-point plan to bolster international pandemic preparedness, the government’s desire to strengthen and reform the World Health Organisation (WHO) and, to ensure health systems strengthening in low-income countries.  

The UK government provided a detailed response to all the recommendations made in the parliamentary report, and while it did not commit to meeting all the recommendations, many were accepted with immediate action.

Key recommendations and UK government response:

  • Recommendation:  Ensure that pandemic preparedness is a permanent agenda item on all future G7 and G20 meetings – While the UK government noted that the final agenda of these meetings is at the discretion of the rotating Presidency, it committed to working to ensure global health remains on the agenda in international fora; 
  • Recommendations:  Endorse the findings of the Independent Panel on Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPR), encourage countries to increase non-earmarked core funding, and support increased powers for the World Health Organization (WHO) to independently access countries in which an outbreak has been reported – the UK government noted that it has endorsed many of the recommendations made by the IPPR on reforming the WHO, that it would work to encourage other countries to follow its lead and increase core funding to the institution, and that it fully supports increased powers for the WHO to independently access countries when outbreaks happen; 
  • Recommendation: Ensure structured permanent cooperation with the EU on pandemic preparedness – the UK government highlighted that the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) set out a commitment to continue working with the EU to tackle the current COVID-19 pandemic and any future threats in addition to reiterating that the UK retained access to the EU Early Warning and Response System (EWRS) and will be able to attend meetings of the EU’s Health Security Committee (HSC) for COVID-19 response. The government also noted that its new Health Security Agency will establish a memorandum of understanding for future relations with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), providing structured cooperation;
  • Recommendation: The UK government should make every effort to achieve a significant increase in the speed and number of vaccines it donates through COVAX and the UK should publish a list of all of its planned future bilateral donations to partner countries to enhance predictability – The UK government refused to commit to an increase in the number or speed of its COVID-19 vaccine donations - sticking to its original commitment to provide 100 million doses by the end of 2022. However, the government noted that 80% of the 100 million committed doses will be delivered via COVAX, which is committed to ensuring equitable distribution. The government also failed to provide a forward-looking plan for vaccine donation, noting that its bilateral donations are driven by the availability of vaccines from domestic supply, which prevents long-term forward planning. However, the UK response did include a detailed breakdown of which countries have received doses thus far; and, 
  • Ensure global health more broadly than just pandemic preparedness is retained as a priority and publish a new global health strategy by the end of 2021 – The UK government confirmed that global health remains a priority and noted that it published its Health Systems Strengthening Position Paper in late 2021. The government also noted that it is working on a strategic framework with the UK's Department of Health and Social Care on a cross-government approach to addressing global health, but made no commitment to publish the framework in the future.

Report - UK Government

Report - Global Health, Global Britain