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The G7, the pandemic and Social Work

Global leaders must recognise and invest in the importance of frontline health and care professionals to both combat the pandemic and build fairer, safer societies post-pandemic.

The leaders of the ‘G7’ richest countries in the world - Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the USA and the UK - meet in Cornwall this weekend. This is the first such face-to-face meeting since the pandemic began. This is a vital opportunity for international leaders to show real commitment to global vaccination rollout and a vision of greater equality in post-pandemic health and social protection systems across the world.

Making this happen requires investment in social workers and other professionals on the ground who hold the skills and knowledge needed to combat this pandemic – and prepare for other emergencies and disasters ahead.

A Coalition of Global Health, Primary Care and Social Work Professionals (the Coalition), coordinated by the World Federation of Public Health Associations, has formed to push global leaders to recognise and invest in the importance of frontline health and care professionals in combatting the pandemic, to build fairer, safer societies out of it. 

The voice of social workers is strong in this call to global leaders. The International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) played a significant role in forming the Coalition and the Commonwealth Organisation for Social Work was represented in the meetings. The Coalition wrote a letter to Boris Johnson as the President of this weekend’s G7 meeting which included:

"In countries that have been more successful in containing COVID-19, health and social professionals have been in leading roles formulating evidence-informed recommendations on the basis of best practice and supporting societal engagement. The role of frontline professionals is key to the effective control of the pandemic and can also contribute towards a unified approach to avoid political polarization and division. We therefore call on the G7 summit to engage with the representatives of the Coalition to work directly on the co-design and co-production of local, national, regional and international strategies to effectively combat the COVID-19 global pandemic."

The full letter is available to read on the IFSW website.

The Department for Health and Social Care replied:

"We are dedicated to working proactively with the G7 to create strategies to effectively fight the COVID pandemic, focussing on rapid and equitable distribution of vaccines and collective defences against health security risks. Through our presidency, we are encouraging G7 health leaders to endorse a ‘Health Declaration’ to respond to longer-term challenges and to build an international health response."

BASW Chair, Gerry Nosowska, endorsed the Coalition statement and its mission, and reiterated BASW’s commitment to promote international equity, saying:

‘‘The G7 leaders have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shape a more equal world which values all peoples, recognises our shared right to health and dignity and commits to implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. This is in everyone’s interests. The post-pandemic world is witnessing growing social and health inequalities which will fuel pain and conflict in the years ahead. BASW therefore calls on the UK government and G7 leaders to seize the creativity of this unique moment.

"Social workers worldwide have played a key role in the response to Covid-19 and can enable the rebuilding of more stable, healthier societies and economies. BASW is committed to working with governments and other professionals to build back a better world. We are using our resources to provide international support to combat Covid-19, including funding social work partner organisations who are on the frontline in Africa, India and the Middle East. We expect the same global concern from our government."

BASW will follow the development of the G7 agenda and will continue to hold the UK Government to account on its commitments to global development and ‘building back better’ in the UK after the pandemic.