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France, a key player in global health

France’s international health policy is based on a strategy that focuses on both achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and increasing international health security.

Achieving the SDGs, especially SDG3 on health, is a major objective for France.

It requires, in particular, health system strengthening (HSS), promoting universal health coverage (UHC) and enhancing human resources in healthcare. Other aims include defending human rights and health equity, gender mainstreaming in all health policies and taking all ages into account.

France also works to improveinternational health security. The Ebola epidemic revealed the fragility of West African health systems and the progress that the World Health Organization (WHO) needs to make as a global health regulator. The current aim is to contribute to the WHO reform and rebuild more resilient health systems with competent health professionals on the ground.

Three key principles underpin France’s international health policy:

  • The commitment of French diplomacy to ensuring the good governance of international health bodies. France supports the WHO reform, which is focused on helping countries to make decisions when faced with a health warning.
  • The mobilization of all French public and private actors in the field of international health. This action is mainly led by France’s two major technical operators (AFD, the French development agency, and Expertise France).

France is also renowned for its efficient medical expertise. We have a very successful system of universities and teaching hospitals, which is made up of a wide range of public and private establishments throughout French territory, as well as many research centres and private enterprises. Lastly, France’s presence on the international stage, in particular through its network of NGOs, gives it an excellent reputation in the field of humanitarian medicine.

  • The inclusion of health determinants in its international health policy. France incorporates nutrition as an essential aspect of good health and is involved in various initiatives to combat acute and chronic malnutrition, such as SUN and UNITLIFE. It is initiating discussions on the growing prevalence of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardio-vascular diseases, nicotine addiction and cancer. It takes into account the current changes in climate, the environment and biodiversity. France aims to incorporate the COP21 recommendations into its approach to health.France’s international health policy, focusing on the individual, is structured around two thematic priorities:
  • Combating communicable diseases: faced with fresh outbreaks and the globalization of communicable diseases, France has been actively involved in combating epidemics (AIDS and tuberculosis, and more recently hepatitis and Ebola) and vector-borne diseases (malaria, dengue and the Zika virus) since 2001. It is the second-largest contributor to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and provides half of the funding for UNITAID, which fuels innovation and reduces the cost of access to health products to treat these diseases. France also supports the Vaccine Alliance (GAVI). It currently donates over €500million each year to these three organizations.