Health – a human right

African mother with her child.


Every year almost seven million children die before their fifth birthday, many of diseases that could have been prevented. That translates as about 19,000 deaths a day. Every day pregnancy and childbirth cost some 800 women around the world their lives, because no appropriate medical care was available. About 780 million people have no access to safe drinking water, and around 2.5 billion – more than one third of the world's popu­la­tion – have to live without even basic sanitation. Violation of the human right to health is a humanitarian disaster for the de­vel­op­ing coun­tries affected and a moral disaster for the rest of humankind. more

The health situation in developing countries

The good news is that between 1970 and 2010, life expectancy in the de­vel­op­ing coun­tries rose from 40 to 70.1 years. Between 1990 and 2011 the under-five mortality rate for the world as a whole dropped from 89 to 51 per 1,000 live births. The bad news is that in spite of this progress, very many people in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries still live with diseases like tuber­culosis and malaria. In 2015 some 36.9 million people around the world were living with HIV, around 25.8 million of them in sub-Saharan Africa (2014). Parasitic infections too are widespread among both children and adults, and in some cases are becoming more prevalent again. more

The international commitment to health

Alongside the World Health Organization (WHO), numerous other inter­national and national institutions and non-governmental organisations have been working for decades to improve the health situ­a­tion in the de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. All the organisations of the inter­national com­mu­ni­ty, such as the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), are pursuing strategies to put in place nationwide health care. Germany supports many of these organisations and works with them in many different ways, especially in fields that are of supra­regional significance. more

The German commitment to health

If we do not succeed in improving the health care situ­a­tion of people living in the poorest coun­tries, the Millennium De­vel­op­ment Goals (MDGs) will not be achieved. Improving the health of people is thus one of the most im­por­tant tasks of in­ter­national and German de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion. Over the past 10 years annual German support for the health sector has more than tripled, and topped 750 million euros in 2009. Germany is currently addressing the priority area of "Health, Family Planning, HIV/AIDS" in its bilateral co­op­er­a­tion with 18 partner coun­tries and regions. It is involved in the health sector in the context of its in­ter­national co­op­er­a­tion with some 45 coun­tries. The German gov­ern­ment aims to promote high-quality health care services that are accessible to all and equitably funded. more

Further information

Here you will find a selection of links to documents and websites with further information on health. more

BMZ glossary

Close window


Share page