France will continue to support WHO, says Minister

COVID-19 – World Health Organization (WHO) – Reply by M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a question in the National Assembly

Paris, 21 April 2020

The World Health Organization is currently the only global health organization. It’s one of the pillars of the multilateral system created after the Second World War – hence the surprise at hearing certain voices express the desire to suspend their contribution to that World Health Organization.

What would we do tomorrow without a global organization, in the face of a pandemic which, by its nature, is global? It’s absolutely contradictory.

So France’s position is very clear: we support WHO and will continue to do so. I note that we’re not the only ones to think this way: you referred earlier to the Alliance for Multilateralism. Indeed, a few days ago my colleague Heiko Maas and I convened a meeting of this Alliance, and together we expressed our desire to continue our support for the World Health Organization.

Having said that, this pandemic nevertheless requires that we reform the multilateral health system, in particular by strengthening WHO’s normative role. There’s an international health regulation which dates back to 2005 but doesn’t have the resources to be set in motion and implemented; strengthening WHO’s action, too, by giving it more independence and financial autonomy to play its warning and detection role, for example, and by creating, in full transparency, a global authority for human and animal health, which could play a scientific warning role, as the IPCC does for the climate. Finally, by innovating on the essential coordination between the tools that currently focus on public health: I’m thinking of vertical funds like the [Global] Fund to Fight AIDS [Tuberculosis and Malaria], Gavi [the Vaccine Alliance], Unitaid, and the Gates Foundation, because this also concerns private organizations.

We must ensure there is coordination between all these players.

That’s the wish of the French President, who hosted a meeting of all those organizations a few days ago, to overhaul global health security, under the guidance of WHO./.

Published on 22/04/2020

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