Areas of action

Health care services: Improving therapy

17-years-old Mamaribe takes care of her father, who has been tested positive for HIV.

Many regions of the world lack assured basic health care services. In addition, they have a serious shortage of health professionals. The HIV epidemic is exacerbating what was already a dire situ­a­tion. Germany is there­fore working with many de­vel­op­ing coun­tries to develop strategies for improving their health care services.

Key elements of this priority area are: provision of advisory services to relevant policy-makers; de­vel­op­ment and maintenance of the medical infra­structure; and provision of basic medical services to the popu­la­tion. This includes, for example, enabling people to go for an HIV test anonymously and free of charge. Access to essential medicines and qualified medical professionals must also be universally available.

The de­vel­op­ment and trialling of innovative social and health insurance schemes is necessary so that poor sectors of the popu­la­tion can also be provided with health care services.

Detailed information on Germany’s commit­ment to improving health systems in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries is available ​here.

Improving access to antiretroviral therapy

HIV screening test in Burkina Faso. Copyright: Ute Grabowsky/photothek.netThe price of anti­retro­virals has been significantly reduced in recent years. As a result and due to efforts by the inter­national com­mu­ni­ty to fund HIV measures, the number of people in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries receiving anti­retro­viral therapy has multiplied. While back in 2002 only 300,000 people were receiving anti­retro­viral therapy, that figure had risen to 15 million by march  2015. Never­the­less, millions of people who need these medicines still do not have access to them. And the WHO’s new therapy guide­lines and the HI virus’s increasing resistance to the active substances they have contained up until now are posing new challenges.

The goal of inter­national efforts is to ensure that, by 2015, all those affected world­wide have access to treat­ment, care and support. The German gov­ern­ment supports these efforts and is working hard in partner coun­tries in support of a broad-based, national AIDS policy comprising the following: HIV information and education campaigns, sex education, voluntary and confidential testing and counselling services, care services and quality-assured access to anti­retro­viral therapy.

Not only access to medicines but also the quality of care HIV patients receive at local level has a big role to play. A partner­ship involving German university clinics and a regional hospital in Cameroon that Germany is supporting is, for example, being used to train health professionals, improve laboratory services and carry out joint accompanying research.

Affordable medicines

Pharmaceutical production in Africa. Copyright: Thomas Imo/photothek.netGermany is engaged at various political levels in efforts to further reduce the price of essential medicines for the treat­ment and care of people with HIV. That is why Germany supports directly – as well as in co­op­er­a­tion with the WHO and the United Nations Industrial De­vel­op­ment Organization (UNIDO) – the production of high-quality, affordable generic drugs by local companies and through South-South co­op­er­a­tion in Africa and Asia.

In order to ensure the high quality of these generic drugs, manufacturing companies receive support in intro­ducing quality manage­ment systems. In addition, licensing and super­visory authorities and specialised laboratories receive assistance when it comes to capacity building. Further, Germany supports the training of urgently needed technical and academic specialists in regard to the manufacture of medicines and the associated research.

Together with the WHO and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Devel­op­ment (UNCTAD) Germany also supports its partner coun­tries in Africa and Asia in taking advantage of the possibilities of intro­ducing compulsory licences. These enable them to produce or import affordable copies of im­por­tant medicines. Among other things Germany provides advisory and training services on the protection of intellectual property rights in such cases.

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