74th World Health Assembly is looking to improve its response to future pandemics

The World Health Assembly is being held virtually from May 24 to June 1st, 2021. It is largely devoted to the urgency of ending the Covid-19 pandemic and preventing the next one. It does not forget to focus on the pursuit of universal health coverage, better health and well-being worldwide, and the strengthening of the effectiveness of the World Health Organization.

Ending the pandemic…and better prepare for the next one

For the second consecutive year, the World Health Assembly (WHA) is being held virtually. As the pandemic continues to rage - 162 million cases worldwide and more than 3.3 million deaths according to World Health Organization (WHO) figures - the organization’s 194 member states will be tasked to address its management of the health crisis. The theme "Ending the Covid-19 pandemic and preventing the next one" also invites member states to look to the future and make concrete proposals to strengthen the global health architecture and better prepare for future pandemics.

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During this historic crisis, WHO has been tested but has demonstrated its usefulness and the need to strengthen its action to coordinate responses to health emergencies. Three reports on the response to COVID-19 will be submitted to the W[]HA: one of the Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, the Independent Panel on Pandemic Preparedness and Response, and the Review Panel on the Role of the International Health Regulations (2005) during the response to COVID-19.

"This year’s World Health Assembly will play a vital role in shaping the global health architecture of the future and strengthening WHO to carry out its mission and mandate" said Dr Tedros, the organization’s Director-General.

A draft resolution, initiated by the EU, on strengthening WHO in preparing for and responding to health emergencies will be submitted to the WHA for adoption. This resolution draws the first lessons from Covid-19 and plans to launch a process to study and implement, as appropriate, the recommendations made in the three reports mentioned above. The EU will also support a draft decision launching a process that could lead to the design of a new framework for health emergency preparedness and response.

For more information on WHO and WHA

Multiple global health issues

The Covid-19 crisis revealed the flaws in health systems and the profound inequalities in access to care, diagnostics, treatment and vaccines. The Assembly’s agenda reflects the ambition to achieve the health-related Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs). This ambition is reflected in WHO’s "triple billion" target: one billion more people with universal health coverage, one billion more people better protected in health emergencies, and one billion more people with improved health and well-being.

A number of important resolutions will be proposed for adoption:

  • The next WHO biennial budget
  • Local production of medicines
  • Diabetes and access to insulin
  • The health workforce
  • Nurses and midwives
  • Social determinants of health
  • Health of people with disabilities
  • Violence against children
  • Oral health

For more information on the draft agenda in six languages

France plays a leading role in the response to COVID-19

Full AMS program

Over the past year, France has played a leading role in mobilizing its partners and providing a concerted response to the COVID-19 crisis within a multilateral framework.

It contributed to the creation of the Act-A mechanism, a coordinated and solidarity-based response, to turn the means to fight the pandemic into global public goods and to support the most fragile health systems.

France inaugurated the donation of doses by committing to deliver nearly 500,000 doses of various vaccines to the most vulnerable countries by June. The French President also announced at the G20 World Health Summit on May 21 that he was committing to donate at least 30 million additional doses by the end of the year and to provide new funding for Act-A of up to 500 million euros.

Covax, which distributes (...)

Covax, which distributes vaccines within ACT-A, has :
- 191 member countries
- 114 vulnerable countries already delivered
- 2 billion doses pre-ordered
- 100,000 doses sent to West Africa, 500,000 doses by mid-June

France is committed to taking action on vaccine production by strengthening production partnerships and transferring technology and know-how to ensure global access to the vaccine. Out of 1.6 billion injections worldwide, 75% have been given in only a dozen countries. "This is unacceptable" hammered President Macron, who stressed that he has "no taboos, no ideology" on intellectual property issues.

Finally, France has promoted the idea of a High Level Expert Panel "One Health" which brings together 26 independent experts in animal, human and environmental health under the leadership of 4 organizations (WHO, FAO, OIE, UNEP). The Panel will analyze the health risks arising from the human-animal-environment interface and will issue recommendations to better prevent zoonoses and pandemics.

France will also be confirmed on the WHO Executive Board for a period of three years. The Executive Board is responsible for implementing the decisions taken by the Health Assembly and for preparing its meetings. France will be represented by Professor Salomon, Director General of Health.

Last updated on: 24 May 2021