Global health – France and the WHO announce a new agreement to reinforce health systems to combat Covid-19 (11 Feb. 2022)


France and the World Health Organization (WHO) have announced a new €50 million contribution agreement that will help countries’ health systems overcome bottlenecks in the Covid-19 response and speed up equitable access to testing, treatments and vaccines.

The agreement, which was publicly disclosed on the sidelines of the ministerial conference of foreign ministers and health ministers in Lyon, France, aims to support the work of WHO and the co-conveners of the Health Systems and Response Connector (HSRC) of the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), aligned with WHO’s Covid-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP).

The HSRC works to ensure that countries have the technical, operational and financial resources to acquire and efficiently use vaccines and other Covid-19 tools. France’s contribution will help accelerate equitable access to all Covid-19 tools, by looking at each country’s health system’s bottlenecks and identifying the right responses and solutions to them.

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated, “WHO is very grateful to the Government of France for its continued commitment to global unity in the response to the Covid-19 pandemic. France has taken a leading role in supporting WHO’s work through the ACT Accelerator, which is crucial for WHO to achieve its mission and safeguard the lives of the most vulnerable around the world.”

The contribution will work through the HSRC to help countries turn vaccines into well-prioritized vaccination campaigns; turn tests into effective test-and-treat approaches; pursue community-based testing strategies to support public health measures and the platform for disease surveillance; and support vital clinical interventions. This means strengthening national response mechanisms and reinforcing health systems.

Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian said, “Global health is of critical importance to the French presidency of the Council of the European Union. This support to WHO aims to provide additional support to countries’ health systems; strengthen cooperation between actors and coordination between ACT-A components; enhance dialogue with all stakeholders, including civil society and recipient countries; and accelerate equitable access to new Covid-19 tools and ensure they are made available at a scale and a scope that will allow us to save millions of lives.”

France shares key health priorities with WHO, adopting a cross-cutting approach and prioritizing universal health coverage as part of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

In December 2019, France and WHO signed a new framework agreement for 2020-2025, confirming France’s role as a key actor in global health, along with its strong support for WHO’s Thirteenth General Programme of Work, a five-year strategy that aims to ensure healthy lives and well-being for people of all ages.