Top takeaways from the 2020 Meridian Summit

On October 23, 2020 over 40 world leaders joined to explore solutions to shared challenges during our largest and first-ever virtual Summit—and we know now more than ever that international collaboration is the only solution to the greatest health and economic crisis of our time. In case you missed it, below are the top takeaways. 

1. GLOBAL HEALTH DIPLOMACY IS NATIONAL SECURITY. COVID-19 is an imminent threat to every government in the world AND knows no borders. As a national security risk, the pandemic has tightened the need for cooperation across sectors to promote community buy-in for an effective, holistic response to public health. Governments and companies alike must restore public trust in health institutions and systems to respond to the crisis and ensure an equitable, sustained recovery.

2. SUPPLY CHAIN RESILIENCY IS ESSENTIAL. Just as the coronavirus affects all people, all countries’ health and economic recovery are dependent on effective global supply chains. To improve the resiliency of local and international medical supply chains, both the public and private sectors must make a more concerted effort to coordinate how they manufacture and purchase goods. Manufacturing could improve by expanding production of personal protective equipment (PPE) and pharmaceuticals, which tend to be made in the same areas, to other countries and regions. Governments and private companies should also be more intentional about diversifying the sources where they purchase goods and services.

3. COOPERATION IS KEY. "This virus did not start in one country and stay there, and the solution will not start in one country and stay there," noted Fred Hochberg, former Export-Import Bank Chairman. A diversity of perspectives is essential to accrue better solutions and spur innovation, and sustained global cooperation will ultimately create more opportunity for everyone, as opposed to dividing the world into "haves" and "have nots." By focusing on bilateral, regional and international cooperation, both with other governments and with the private sector, the public sector can create more opportunities for manufacturing and bolster the global economy.

4. GLOBAL SOLUTIONS NEED LOCAL APPLICATIONS. The magnitude of a public health crisis like the coronavirus requires collaboration between citizens and government leaders to design localized solutions to this global challenge. It is imperative to recognize that these solutions will likely come from the local population that will take into account the cultural and environmental factors when developing practical responses that meet the unique needs of its impacted people and communities. In-country actors must support their local health workforce and empower local leaders to drive robust and sustainable local solutions that also build and restore public trust.

5. INVESTING IN EQUITABLE HEALTH CARE CAN'T WAIT. Generations to come will feel the ramifications of today’s broken health system. Mental health issues will continue to rise, small and minority-owned businesses will continue to fail, and populations disproportionately affected by the virus due to the history of oppression will continue to be set back. This pandemic has caused the most inequitable recession in our American history, with financial insecurity rising among Black and Hispanic communities hit hardest by the coronavirus. As the coronavirus knows no borders, today's globalized economy cannot afford for there to be winners and losers if a future pandemic arises—the time for equitable health care is now.

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