On 7 December 2020 high level representatives from the French government and WHO gathered virtually for their annual strategic dialogue to take stock of collaboration during the year 2020 and to discuss key joint priorities for collaboration for 2021. The objective of the meeting was to agree on specific ways to enhance cooperation and a road map around key areas: the WHO Academy, health emergencies preparedness and response, including COVID-19 response, investing in resilient health systems in particular through primary health care and multilateralism in health with a strengthened WHO as the leader in global health.
“Today France and WHO are joining forces on top health priorities that deepens even more their already existing partnership,” said Ms Jane Ellison, WHO Executive Director for External Relations and Governance. “We are honoured to count France among our top contributors and strong supporters in all circumstances.”
The meeting had a strong focus on the next steps for the WHO Academy, a WHO Director-General’s special priority initiative, supported by France. The world’s largest and most innovative lifelong learning platform in global health will offer high-tech learning environments at a “hub” in Lyon. The WHO Academy, which aims to reach 10 million learners around the world by 2023, will be a game-changer for lifelong learning in health and will help reach WHO’s “triple billion” goal.
Other health topics such as the role of the International Health Regulations (IHR), the future of the WHO Lyon Office, the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator‘s progress- a global collaboration initiated by WHO, France and other partners, and primary health care-centred universal health coverage were discussed.
This meeting was also an opportunity for France to stress the importance of reinforced multilateralism and its support for the essential role WHO plays in providing a coordinated response to global health challenges.
The annual strategic dialogue comes at a time when France has reaffirmed its strong commitment and leadership in global health with three key announcements this year: 1) the launch of the ACT-Accelerator initiative by President Emmanuel Macron, WHO and partners to support the development and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines 2) an additional contribution of 50 million euros to steer the ACT-Accelerator initiative through WHO to intensify the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic for 2020-2021 3) the launch of a High level Council of experts moving forward with the One Health approach to strengthen prevention and preparedness for emerging zoonotic diseases.