Health: Africa, a high priority continent

France’s Strategy for Global Health (2017-2021) aims to extend universal health coverage by working to “bolster health systems while fighting illnesses”.
For this reason, it is particularly active in Africa, the continent which currently has the most concerning health indicators. These reflect demographic challenges, high maternal and child mortality rates, the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, the high prevalence of tuberculosis and malaria, the heightened importance of non-communicable diseases, and other issues.

In October 2019, France hosted an international conference aimed at replenishing the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which was an opportunity to re-engage international donors in fighting these pandemics.

France supports countries directly through its main agencies, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Expertise France, as well as through its multilateral undertakings.

Combating communicable diseases is part of this strategy. It is one of France’s priorities, especially in Africa. France works through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, UNITAID, and GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance.

France is the second-largest contributor to the Global Fund, providing €1.08 billion for the 2017-2019 period. Part of France’s Global Fund contribution, which is implemented by Expertise France, is set aside for capacity-building in French-speaking beneficiary countries.

France’s activities in Africa also include promoting national and community-based health systems that are accessible, durable, resilient and high quality in order to achieve universal health coverage.

At the same time, it is committed to supporting sexual, reproductive, maternal, neonatal and infant health programmes, favouring a cross-cutting, rights-based approach. This is reflected in the French Muskoka Fund, a joint programme of four UN agencies (UNICEF, WHO, the UNFPA and UN Women), which was rolled out from 2011 onwards in eight Central and West African countries (Benin, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo). The French Muskoka Fund works mainly to combat maternal, neonatal and infant mortality, and to support nutrition, health systems and the sexual and reproductive health of adolescents. After six years of activities and €110 million in contributions, France decided to continue its commitment to this innovative regional initiative in 2018, to the tune of €10 million per year.

Given these priorities, the French President wishes to step up private French investments in Africa in order to open high-quality clinics and develop human resources in healthcare, to meet the ongoing health and demographic challenges in the region.

France is also committed to fighting the growing scourge of substandard and counterfeit drugs. This global trend is a serious public health threat, including in Africa. France has ratified the MEDICRIME Convention, which seeks to prosecute those accused of counterfeiting medical products and similar crimes, protect the rights of victims, and promote national and international cooperation between health, police and customs authorities. Working through Expertise France, France also contributes to building the capacities and competences of the institutions responsible for guaranteeing drug quality in the countries concerned (pharmaceutical agencies and administrations, medical procurement and distribution facilities, quality control laboratories, etc.).

Updated: February 2019