GENEVA, Switzerland — The World Health Organization and the International Organisation of the Francophonie (IOF) today signed a memorandum of understanding to scale up collaboration and boost access to health services in Francophone countries.
The agreement, finalized at a ceremony held at the WHO Headquarters in Geneva, focuses on advancing universal health coverage, fighting malaria and collaborating on the development of the WHO Academy, which aims to train millions of health workers worldwide. It will also support COVID-19 response efforts, including on promoting equitable access to vaccines.
“Our actions, supported by this memorandum of understanding, must contribute to the development of social protection and universal access to public health services in the French-speaking countries,” said Louise Mushikiwabo, IOF secretary-general. “This is a fundamental right for individuals and an essential condition for the socio-economic progress of our countries.”
Mushikiwabo added: “This memorandum of understanding aims to bring IOF political and diplomatic support to some of WHO’s priorities.”
WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the MoU signing further bolstered an already strong partnership with IOF, and would play a vital role in promoting and protecting people’s health, including in the response to COVID-19.
“Strengthening the relationship between WHO and the IOF comes at a crucial time, when the world needs even closer collaboration to fight COVID-19 and address existing health challenges, from malaria to inequitable access to health services,” said Dr Tedros. “Expanding universal health coverage and equipping current and future health systems with highly trained health workers are essential steps that WHO and IOF will continue working on together.”
Under the MoU, the IOF will work through advocacy actions, to promote and protect people’s access to the fundamental human right to health, in doing so supporting WHO’s work with national, regional and global authorities to advance access to universal health coverage. The MoU will, in particular, promote multilingualism, including use of the French language, in health promotion and training materials. Another key focus is promoting health education for young women and girls, including on sexual and reproductive health.
With 88 Member States and governments, the International Organization of the Francophonie (IOF) counts among its missions the promotion and protection of fundamental rights, among which the right to Health. Several Resolutions on this subject were adopted at the Francophonie by its governing bodies, the latest of which was approved by the Francophonie Ministerial Conference in November 2020, on “Living together during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the post-COVID world.”