World Health Day

So near and yet so far

The violence of daily life, surrounding us, hurts us but it also blinds us. Every day, on the corner of our streets, we see people in distress, child beggars, and outcasts. Action is needed quickly to help, of course, but the mobilization of consciences must make us look further and beyond. Otherwise, we will perceive the symptoms, not the causes. Because, if we want to mobilize usefully, we must act globally, to put an end to the daily scandal of these millions of people who, in the 21st century still, die or suffer, far from the heart and away from the eyes, lack of access to care they need and to which they are entitled.

This scandal is all the more intolerable. The progress of science and medicine opens the way to unprecedented therapeutic solutions and points to the moment when the disease can be prevented even before its appearance. Already, new technologies contribute to finding innovative operational responses, particularly in terms of training and information for health teams. But do we know that a child with cancer in Europe can be treated, but that their chances would be reduced to at best 20% if they lived in a poor country?

World Health Day will be an opportunity to alert people to the ravages of public health caused by these situations of great distress and shocking disparity. It calls for bringing together in one movement all the energies.

Global health statistics illustrate the magnitude of the challenge. Even today, millions of people around the world are denied access to basic healthcare, victims of what the United Nations has identified as “the worst humanitarian crisis since the end of the Second World War”. Let’s open our eyes to the numbers: every year, 1.7 billion people need treatment for neglected tropical diseases; 216 million cases of malaria and 10.4 million cases of tuberculosis are identified; nearly 6 million children do not reach their fifth birthday.


Do not believe us safe, because, close to us, misery persists: 8.8 million French live below the poverty line. Access to health is often an insurmountable obstacle for them, who must at the same time face all the problems: pay their rent, find a job, understand their rights, and find their way through the maze of paperwork. This is obvious: the long-term resolution of these global dramas, like those of our immediate environment, will involve common, structural, global and international actions.

Faced with the first and ultimate injustice of inequality in the right to live, the first answer is access to health. There is, in these matters, no magic wand or give-away action. Even modestly, the mobilization of everyone can make a difference. On the ground, here as elsewhere, dispersed but persistent, many bring help, and projects. Do not leave them alone.

This is the desire, among many others, of the Sanofi Espoir Foundation. For example, with the program “My child matters”: dedicated to the fight against childhood cancer in developing countries, it improves access to care, early diagnosis, training of professionals in pediatric oncology, palliative care and information to the general public. Another example in France is the support given to the Emmaus Défi “Convergence” project, which tests a new system of enhanced and comprehensive support for the most disadvantaged, by tackling the obstacles to return to work, to health, housing, training, disability issues and also addictions.

Such actions help to improve the situation, here and there, of thousands of people. It is already a lot. But without the unanimous mobilization, without the help of all skills and competences, without knowledge transfer of technological progress, we will be far from reaching the citizen objective of which we claim to carry the values, those of the equality and the fraternity.

Xavier Darcos
Xavier Darcos, President of the Sanofi Espoir Foundation