France, WHO sign new agreement to reinforce health systems against COVID-19

A health worker collects a swab sample from a man to test for COVID-19. (Photo by Camilo Freedman/SOPA Images/ Sipa USA via CFP)
A health worker collects a swab sample from a man to test for COVID-19. (Photo by Camilo Freedman/SOPA Images/ Sipa USA via CFP)

France and the World Health Organization on Wednesday 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, 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 work in the Health Systems and Response Connector (HSRC) of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), aligned with the WHO’s COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP).

According to the health body, the contribution will help accelerate equitable access to all COVID-19 tools, by looking at each country’s health system’s bottlenecks and identify the right responses and solutions to them.

The contribution will help countries bolster their responses to the pandemic,

Working through the HSRC, the contribution will 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 turn therapeutics into life-saving clinical pathways. This means strengthening national response mechanisms, reinforcing health systems and overcoming bottlenecks.

“This support to WHO aims to provide additional support to countries’ health systems; strengthen cooperation between actors and coordination between ACT-A components; to enhance dialogue with all stakeholders including the civil society and recipient countries; and to accelerate equitable access to new COVID-19 tools and ensure they are made available at a scale and scope in order to save millions of lives,” said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.