France's WHO Academy; The Slippery Slope of Global Health Geopolitics

Newsletter Edition #93 [The Weekly Primer]

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WHO and France showcased a groundbreaking ceremony in Lyon this week for the new WHO Academy.

“As a WHO Member State and a key actor in global health, France is the lead investor in the Academy’s development, having committed more than 120 million euros to support its establishment and infrastructure”, a statement said.

It is unwise to see this as an isolated event.

France is a major donor to WHO, the ACT Accelerator, the COVAX Facility, and is a supporter for DG Tedros’s re-election. In addition, France is one of the key member states pushing for a pandemic treaty and is an influential member of the Bureau of the ‘Working Group on strengthening WHO preparedness and response to health emergencies’. The country has also led the way in striking partnerships in vaccines-scarce Africa.

In his remarks, Tedros said, “The ambitions of the WHO Academy are not modest: to transform lifelong learning in health globally”. Indeed. And this has made many observers uneasy. What will be the influence of the Academy, located outside of WHO, on the organization’s normative work?

The long-winded articulation by President Emmanuel Macron on France’s determination and goals for global health leadership can be watched here.

This comes close on the heels of Berlin’s WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence. So much for all the action in Europe around the efforts to expand leadership in global health.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the U.S. proposed a new fund to tackle emergencies, last week. David Fidler, the astute watcher of geopolitics in global health, while reading Biden’s COVID-19 Summit, believes that “the geopolitical significance of the pandemic was epiphenomenal and is evaporating.” China, he says, is no longer interested and goes on to explain the limitations of the U.S. foreign policy in global health. Fascinating!

What was really ground-breaking this week, was Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, Deputy Director, Africa Centers for Disease Control, telling the European Health Forum- Gastein that multilateralism failed Africa.

Check out our double-exclusive from last week: A Meeting Among the Friends of the Pandemic Treaty; Gavi wants Countries to Resell Doses to COVAX.

It is our humble submission that you subscribe to read our in-depth analyses. You may not want to miss out on blink-and-you-miss pace of global health news from Geneva.

The powers around Geneva are constantly changing. It is hard to say whether Geneva will remain the nucleus of global health policy-making in the coming years. Engage with us and help us understand.

We are also happy to share that we are working on a research project on the pandemic treaty examining the various dimensions of these discussions. More on this in the coming weeks! Be my guest and reach out to me if you want to talk about this.

Until next!



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  • WHO Sustainable Financing Working Group Meeting: 27-29 September

  • Gavi Board Meeting: 28 September

  • WTO Small Group Meeting on the TRIPS Waiver: 29 September

  • A deep dive on the IHRs - An intersessional meeting organized by the Bureau of the Working Group on strengthening WHO preparedness and response to health emergencies: 30 September


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R.I.P Chakravarthi Raghavan

A tribute from Latin America

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