Agnès Buzyn

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Agnès Buzyn
Agnès Buzyn 2018-04-06 lancement stratégie autisme 2018-2022 (cropped).jpg
Minister of Solidarity and Health
In office
17 May 2017 – 16 February 2020
Prime MinisterÉdouard Philippe
Preceded byMarisol Touraine
Succeeded byOlivier Véran
Personal details
Born (1962-11-01) 1 November 1962 (age 58)
Paris, France
Political partyIndependent (before 2017)
La République En Marche! (2017–present)
Spouse(s)Pierre-François Veil (divorced)
Yves Lévy
ParentsÉlie Buzyn
Etty Buzyn
EducationParis Descartes University

Agnès Buzyn (born 1 November 1962) is a French hematologist, university professor, medical practitioner and politician who served as Minister of Solidarity and Health in the government of Prime Minister Édouard Philippe from 17 May 2017 to 16 February 2020.[1] A member of La République En Marche! (LREM), she was its candidate for Mayor of Paris in the 2020 election but failed to reach the second round.

Buzyn, who specialises in hematology, cancer immunology and transplant, spent most of her career as a medical practitioner, professor and researcher at Paris Descartes University (Paris-V) and Necker–Enfants Malades Hospital.

From 2008, Buzyn assumed many responsibilities as part of Health and Nuclear public institutions: president of the administrative counsel of the Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety Institute (IRSN; French: Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire; 2008–2013); member of the comity on nuclear energy of the Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA; Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives; 2009–2015); member of the administrative counsel in 2009, then vice-president in 2010, as well as president from 2011 of the National Institute for Cancer (INCa; Institut national du cancer).

Buzyn was appointed Minister of Solidarity and Health under the presidency of Emmanuel Macron, as part of the first government of Édouard Philippe on 17 May 2017. She kept the position on 21 June 2017 as part of the Philippe's second government. She resigned on 16 February 2020 to run in the Paris mayoral election, in which she placed third.[2] She was as Health Minister succeeded by Olivier Véran.

Early life and education[edit]

Buzyn was born to two Holocaust survivors, her father Elie from Polish Łódź, who survived Buchenwald's death march at age 16, and left for British Palestine after World War II. He became an orthopedic surgeon in Paris and married a French Jewish woman, Etty, whose family hid in France during the war; she became a well-known psychoanalyst and writer.[3]

Early career[edit]

Buzyn is a qualified doctor, hematologist and university professor. From 2008 to 2013, she chaired France's Agency for Nuclear Safety and Protection against Radiation (IRSN), a position which involved reassuring the public after Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011.[4]

She has been head of the French National Cancer Institute and other public health executive boards. For several years she was a senior physician and researcher at the Necker Children's Hospital in Paris, teaching hematology and transplantation at Pierre and Marie Curie University (Paris-VI).[3]

In 2016, Buzyn was appointed president of the High Health Authority (HAS), as the first woman.[3]

Political career[edit]

Minister of Health, 2017–2020[edit]

In May 2017, President Emmanuel Macron appointed Buzyn as Health Minister. She had never been involved in party politics prior to being nominated similar to other ministers (Culture Minister Françoise Nyssen, Sports Ministers Laura Flessel and Ecology Minister Nicolas Hulot).[5]

Early in her tenure, Buzyn signed a charter to promote vaccination with seven national health service guilds, in an effort to counter growing vaccine hesitancy in France.[6] In 2019, she implemented a HAS recommendation according to which the state health insurance system cease all reimbursements for the use of homeopathic cures from 2021.[7][8][9] She later steered through parliament a controversial bioethics law extending to homosexual and single women free access to fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF) under France's national health insurance; it was one of the campaign promises of President Macron and marked the first major social reform of his five-year term.[10]

During France's presidency of the G7 in 2019, Buzyn hosted a G7 Ministers of Health meeting in Paris.[11] She also co-hosted the sixth replenishment meeting of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Lyon.[12]

Ahead of the 2019 European Parliament election in France, Buzyn was considered one of the front-runners to top the candidate list of the La République En Marche! party; the role eventually went to Nathalie Loiseau instead.[13]

By the end of 2019, addressing concerns that France's free health system was attracting illegal migrants, Buzyn said asylum seekers would have to wait three months before being entitled to healthcare. She assured that restrictions would not apply to children, or emergency care.[14]

Candidate for Mayor of Paris, 2020[edit]

In February 2020 Buzyn resigned to run as her party's candidate for Mayor of Paris in the 2020 municipal election.[2] She eventually received 17.7% of the vote, losing against incumbent Anne Hidalgo; former LREM politician Cédric Villani, a member of the National Assembly, headed a list that received 7.8% of the vote.[15]

Later career[edit]

In 2021, Buzyn was appointed by the World Health Organization's Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as his envoy for relations with other multilateral organizations, succeeding Michèle Boccoz.[16][17]


The Minister of Health and Minister of Research oversee the INSERM where Yves Lévy, Buzyn's husband, was CEO at the time of her appointment. A controversy emerged as to whether Buzyn could effectively oversee an institution headed by her husband. On 29 May 2017, a decree was issued which stated the Prime Minister would carry out acts related to INSERM instead of Buzyn.[18][19] Buzyn was a member of the search committee charged with auditioning the INSERM director candidates. Several candidates decided not to run for office upon learning this information.[20]

In January 2020, in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, she caused controversy by calling temperature checks at airports "a symbol that is useless, except to please the population".[21] In October 2020, Buzyn was one of several current and former government officials whose home was searched by the authorities following lawsuits about the government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in France.[22]

Personal life[edit]

Buzyn was married to Pierre-François Veil, son of politician and Holocaust survivor Simone Veil, who died in June 2017. They have 2 children together.[3]

Buzyn is married to Yves Lévy, with whom she has one child. Lévy is an immunology professor and has been heading the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) since June 2014. He remains interim head since his term expired 12 June 2018 and announced on 30 July that he would not run for another term due to the controversy involving his wife.[18]


  1. ^ Angelique Chrisafis in Paris (n.d.). "France's Macron selects his government from left, right and centre". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 May 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b "French health minister to run for Paris mayor after sex scandal sinks previous candidate". France 24. 16 February 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d RINA BASSIST Agnes Buzyn – Stepping into Simone Veil’s shoes The Jerusalem Post, 20 September 2017
  4. ^ "Factbox: Ministers in new French government". Reuters. Retrieved 19 May 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Chrisafis, Angélique. "France's Macron selects his government from left, right and centre". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 May 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ Zachary Young (21 November 2018), How anti-vax went viral Politico Europe.
  7. ^ Carmen Paun (9 July 2019), Ending payments a bitter pill for French homeopathy fans Politico Europe.
  8. ^ Victor Mallet (10 July 2019), French state to stop funding homeopathic cures Financial Times.
  9. ^ Noemie Bisserbe (24 July 2019), France Moves to Lift Ban on Assisted Reproduction for Female Couples The Wall Street Journal.
  10. ^ Harriet Agnew (24 September 2019), France moves to extend IVF to gay and single women Financial Times.
  11. ^ Secretary Azar Attends G7 Health Ministerial Meeting and Participates in Bilateral Meetings United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), press release of 16 May 2019.
  12. ^ Global Fund seeks $14 bn to fight AIDS, malaria, TB France 24, 9 October 2019.
  13. ^ Rym Momtaz (5 March 2019), Ministers lead race to be Macron’s European champion Politico Europe.
  14. ^ Elizabeth Pineau and Christian Lowe (6 November 2019), France, under pressure from right wing, toughens stance on immigration Politico Europe.
  15. ^ Michel Rose and John Irish (15 March 2020), Socialist Paris Mayor beats Macron's candidate in election 1st round Reuters.
  16. ^ Corinne Lhaïk (5 January 2021), Dr Agnès, Mme Buzyn et les affres de 2020: les confidences de l’ancienne ministre de la Santé L'Opinion.
  17. ^ Former French health minister joins WHO, stirs controversy at home Radio France Internationale, 6 January 2021.
  18. ^ a b France may be back, but the old ways persist for INSERM. The Lancet, Volume 391, Issue 10138, p 2390. Retrieved 16 June 2018
  19. ^ Eric Favereau Le mari de la ministre de la Santé peut-il rempiler à la direction de l'Inserm? Liberation, 22 May 2018. Retrieved 16 June 2018 "Une solution à la française, totalement boiteuse. Dans les pays anglo-saxons, une situation similaire n'aurait jamais été possible."
  20. ^ Buzyn fait-elle du «chantage à la démission» pour que son mari reste à la tête de l’Inserm ? RT France, 13 May 2018. Retrieved 16 June 2018
  21. ^ Anthony Berthelier (26 January 2020), Coronavirus: pourquoi la France ne prend pas la température des voyageurs en provenance de Chine (in French), Huffington Post.
  22. ^ Merlin Sugue (15 October 2020), French police search health minister’s home as part of coronavirus inquiry Politico Europe.