G7 performance on health
G7 Summit

G7 performance on health

At a time when public health is a foremost consideration, the G7 can take concrete steps to significantly improve compliance with its commitments

Although the COVID-19 pandemic is the largest health crisis in recent history, the G7 has discussed health since 1979. However, in 2020, the only meeting of G7 leaders to produce a declaration was a virtual summit on 16 March to respond to COVID-19.


There have been 50,467 words on health in G7 summit communiqués since 1979, with an average 1,073 words (8%) per summit. There were 81 dedicated documents on health, or an average of two per summit, with a peak of seven in 2006, followed by six in 2009.

The G7 dedicated at least 400 words on health per summit up to 1995. The focus intensified after 1996, with 825 (5%) that year and 1,400 (11%) in 1997. It dipped in 1998 and 1999 but then steadily rose. From 2000 to 2010, each summit had at least 1,400 words on health, ranging between 4% and 26% of total words. The 2006 summit produced the highest number of words on health at 7,072 (23%). From 2011 to 2014, each summit produced under 1,000 words on health (between 6% and 26%).
In 2015, the G7 dedicated 2,190 words (17.3%) to health. This increased in 2016 to 6,087 words (26%), declined to 885 words (10%) in 2017 and 713 words (6.3%) in 2018, then increased to 1,145 words (16%) in 2019. At the 2020 Virtual Summit, the G7 leaders dedicated 236 words (44%) to health.


The G7 has made 442 collective, politically binding, future-oriented commitments related to health. The first was in 1979 on hunger and malnutrition. The first core health commitment was in 1983. The 1991 summit made three commitments (6%). In 1996, 2% of commitments were on health. From 1996 onwards, there was at least one commitment on health. At 13%, the 2000 summit was the first time health commitments exceeded 10%.

From 2001 to 2005, between 4% and 10% of commitments were on core health and health-related subjects. In 2006, 18% were on health, and 12% in 2007. The focus on health spiked in 2010 to 27%, but decreased to 4% in 2011, and 1% in 2012 and 2013. It rose again in 2015 to 16% and in 2016 to 24%, before the focus shifted away from health.
At the 2020 Virtual Summit, 30% of the commitments were on health.


Compliance with the core health commitments averaged 74%, for the 81 assessed by the G7 Research Group. This was slightly lower than the 76% average across all subjects. The first health commitment in 1983 had 100% compliance, as did the one in 2012. Other high-complying commitments came in 2013 at 95%, 2001 at 94% and 2014 at 92%.
G7 members had low compliance from 2008 to 2011. A commitment made in 2008 achieved only 59% compliance, followed by 69% with a 2009 commitment, 57% with a 2010 commitment and 45% with a 2011 commitment. The lowest compliance was 25% with a commitment in 2017.


The G7 can try increase this compliance in three ways. First, it can host ministerial meetings on health prior to the leaders’ summit. Four summits (2006, 2015, 2016 and 2020) that had such ministerial meetings averaged 85% compliance, 11% higher than the average on health.

Second, the G7 can make more health commitments. The 11 summits with the highest compliance averaged 89% and made 245 commitments. The lowest scoring summits, which averaged 60% compliance, made only 159 commitments. The 11 lowest complying summits made 40% fewer commitments than the 11 highest complying ones.

Third, in the text of their commitments, G7 leaders make more references to multilateral organisations related to health, such as the World Health Organization. The 11 highest scoring summits had more than seven references to multilateral organisations. The lowest scoring 11 summits made under seven such references.

These results suggest that to increase the compliance with their health commitments, G7 members should host health ministerial meetings prior to the leaders’ summit, make more commitments on health and increase references to external multilateral organisations related to health.