Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic

The year 2020 will go down in the history of all nations as a memorable year due to the shock of the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic that we have collectively faced. As the World Health Summit begins in Berlin and around the world via our screens, more than one million people have died, and the pandemic is still active.

In this new context, international forces have divided, concerted, and cooperated. The world-renowned World Health Summit gives us a great opportunity to bring together capable people of good will, in order to find solutions to this crisis.

I would like to thank my friend and outstanding leader Chancellor Angela Merkel, to offer once again her High Patronage, as well as Professor Ganten’s dynamic organisation for allowing specialists and the world's best experts to present their analyses, their knowledge and to discuss their opinions. I am delighted that this session gives us a particular opportunity to bring to light our European vision, at a time when Europe is strengthening its health agenda, under the German presidency of the European Union.

The World Health Summit has made us understand that the scientific world can help us make better decisions on global health. I call here for a global health policy that are based on the latest scientific knowledge, that can be shared and proved accurate by peer review.

We have been working - we nations, international organizations, foundations, and experts - to learn more about the COVID-19 pandemic. The World Health Organisation (WHO), as the leading organization in health, has played a key role, consolidating and providing epidemiological analysis for the world.

France has supported the WHO and is contributing, along with Germany, to multilateral reflections on strengthening and improving its capacities to anticipate and react to crises. The WHO is the only world organization capable of carrying out this mission; it is crucial that we reinforce it for the future, as a new emerging virus might affect the human population. France has stepped up its support to WHO, and to the WHO Academy, which is essential to provide training resources worldwide, particularly in times of crisis.

The multilateral response to the Covid-19 crisis was unprecedented. In March, world leaders gave a mandate to WHO to coordinate the response, and within weeks the Access to Covid-19 tools accelerator (ACT-A) was launched. France, Germany, the European Union, as well as many other States and donors were at the heart of this initiative and endowed it with significant resources. ACT-A is a novel approach, led by a consortium of international health actors, WHO, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the GAVI Vaccine Alliance, Unitaid and the World Bank have pooled their resources to find practical solutions to provide the world with diagnostics, treatments and vaccines and to increase the capacity to distribute products worldwide. Much has been done and more is to come.

Once the vaccine is found, it will be a global public good. That means that it will have to be proved safe and efficient according to scientific and regulating authorities, accessible to all who need it, in all countries. It must be equitably distributed around the world on ethical principles, prioritising vulnerable populations and health workers.

France is also very keen to highlight the interaction between human, animal and planetary health. Science will provide us with clear ways. The Covid-19 crisis has been a revealing event and a harbinger of a new world, as we have witnessed the direct effects of biodiversity on human health.  Our generation needs to protect those who are ahead of us and those who follow us.

Together with our closest partners, such as Germany, France is keen to bring the “One Health” agenda to the fore, promoting further integration of sustainable development goals cross sectorial scientifical knowledge. 

This year, in which global health has been at the forefront of our priorities, has confirmed the analyses we have been making for a long time: the social determinants of disease are of great importance and women and vulnerable populations are the first and hardest hit.

As the global public health community, we must safeguard the health of all people without leaving anyone behind. Women's health will be an area for action supported by France in view the Generation Equality Forum in 2021.  

I hope this 12th session of the World Health Summit year will be as thought provoking as the previous session and even more, considering the extraordinary challenges of the time.