The G8 summit in Toyako offers Japan, as the host government, a special opportunity to influence collective action on global health. At the last G8 summit held in Japan, the Japanese government launched an effort to address critical infectious diseases, from which a series of disease-specific programmes emerged. This year’s summit provides another chance to catalyse global action on health, this time with a focus on health systems.
Global efforts to improve health conditions in poor countries have embraced two different strategies in recent decades, one focusing on health systems, the other on specific diseases. The interactions of these two strategies have shaped where we stand today.