#43 Agnes Buzyn - Stepping into Simone Veil’s shoes

Agnes Buzyn is well equipped to confront the challenges of reforming the French health system.

Agnes Buzyn (photo credit: REUTERS)
Agnes Buzyn
(photo credit: REUTERS)
During his election campaign, President Emmanuel Macron repeatedly argued in favor of a government composed of representatives of all layers of society, including not just politicians but a majority of professional and civil society activists.
Agnes Buzyn is a part of both of these groups. This 55-year-old physician has made herself a name as a leading researcher in hematology, taking up senior posts within the public health system – a perfect match for the Ministry of Health, which she is currently heading under Prime Minister Edouard Philip.
Buzyn is well equipped to confront the challenges of reforming the French health system. A former head of the French National Cancer Institute and other public health executive boards, she was nominated in 2016 as president of the French High Health Authority, the first woman ever to hold that post. In medical circles she is considered a world-class specialist in blood diseases, having served for several years as senior physician and researcher at the Paris Necker Children’s Hospital and teaching hematology and transplantation at the Paris VI University.
Beyond her professional success, Buzyn carries an extraordinary family story, with both parents Holocaust survivors. Her father Elie, born in Polish Lodz, lost his entire family in Auschwitz. At 16 he survived Buchenwald’s death march, leaving for British Palestine soon after the war. Ending up in Paris, he married a young French Jewish woman, Etty, whose family was hidden in France during the war. He worked in Paris as an orthopedic surgery specialist; his wife became a well-known psychoanalyst and writer.
Buzyn’s first husband was Pierre-Francois Veil, son of health minister and Holocaust survivor Simone Veil, who passed away last June. Speaking at the occasion, Buzyn said, “I am very touched; overcome by emotions. I knew her very intimately, so it is very painful. It feels likes some sort of a personal and symbolic relay race, me serving as health minister after her.”