Africa: a priority for France in the field of global health
Despite the undeniable public health progress in recent decades, the African continent continues to face significant health challenges: high maternal and infant mortality rates, high prevalence of HIV/Aids and many cases of tuberculosis and malaria, epidemics, neglected tropical diseases, a rise in non-communicable diseases, a lack of healthcare workers, and humanitarian emergencies to name a few.
France’s Strategy for Global Health aims to extend universal health coverage by working to bolster health systems while fighting illnesses. France is particularly active in Africa via its main operators, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Expertise France (which will join the AFD group in 2021), bilateral and multi-country programmes, and its multilateral commitments. Of the 19 priority countries for France’s official development assistance, 18 are in Africa.
Fighting communicable diseases and their co-infections remains a priority for France in Africa. France takes action through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (to which France is the second-largest historic contributor), Unitaid (an initiative of which France was a founder and is the primary contributor, and which has operated in 43 African countries since its creation in 2006) and GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance.
In addition to these commitments are two initiatives financed by our country’s multilateral contributions to the Global Fund and managed by Expertise France:
- The Initiative (former “5% Initiative”), financed by a percentage of France’s contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which provides technical assistance and support to innovative projects benefiting 40 Global Fund recipient countries to improve the effectiveness of its grants and strengthen the health impact of the programmes financed.
- The Presidential Initiative for Health in Africa (IPSA), the aim of which is to make Global Fund grants more efficient and accelerate the response to pandemics by deploying high-level experts in several West and Central African French-speaking countries.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, France has been actively committed to fighting the virus in Africa by redeploying part of its bilateral aid in the fight against the virus via the COVID-19 – Health in Common initiative, with a budget of €1.15 billion and managed by the AFD. By the end of December 2020, the AFD had already dedicated€1.119 billion, 80% of which was for Africa, to help developing countries.
Furthermore, France was behind the international response in the form of the ACT-A initiative launched by the President of the Republic in April 2020, alongside the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Commission. The aim of this initiative is to make vaccines, as well as diagnostics and therapeutics, as widely available as possible, consistent with the global public goods rationale and to support health systems in vulnerable countries.
France assists its partners in setting up national and community health systems that are accessible, durable, resilient and of high quality, in order to achieve universal health coverage (UHC). As such, it participates in a large number of technical support and assistance programmes, in particular through the Santé Solidarité Sahel (I3S) initiative. Since 2013, I3S has been assisting four African countries (Senegal, Mali, Chad and Niger) conducting proactive policies in establishing inclusive systems that facilitate access to healthcare for children under five.
In addition, France is a founding member of the P4H network that brings together the major global players in health financing and their experts to coordinate and strengthen efforts to expand UHC, especially in Africa.
France is committed to supporting sexual, reproductive, maternal, neonatal and infant health programmes that foster a cross-cutting, rights-based approach.
This commitment mainly occurs through the French Muskoka Fund (FFM) implemented in nine west- and central-African countries:
- Burkina Faso,
- Côte d’Ivoire,
Between 2011 and 2018, the French Muskoka Fund helped reduce infant and child mortality by 32% in the region, while maternal mortality dropped by 17%.
France is actively committed to fighting the growing scourge of sub-standard and counterfeit medicines. This global phenomenon, seen all over Africa, is a serious threat to public health.
The fight against sub-standard and counterfeit medicines was launched by President Jacques Chirac in 2009, in the “Cotonou Declaration”. This commitment was reaffirmed by the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron during his Ouagadougou speech in 2017.
France ratified the Medicrime Convention which aims to bring those responsible for counterfeit medical products and similar violations to justice, protect the rights of victims, and promote national and international cooperation among the competent health, police and customs authorities. Furthermore, it contributes via Expertise France to capacity-building and skill-building in institutions responsible for ensuring that the health products available in those countries are of good quality (regulatory agencies or pharmaceuticals directorates, health product central purchasing and distribution agencies, quality control laboratories, etc.)
Lastly, and closely linked to all these priorities, the President of the Republic is keen to boost French private investment in Africa, in order to open high-quality clinics and develop the necessary human resources in healthcare to respond to the health and demographic challenges in the region.
For more information, please consult France’s Strategy for Global Health 2017-2021 (in French).
Updated: March 2021