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Strengthening health systems

Germany deploys first 'white helmets'

Rapid-response health team is sent to Togo to counter epidemics


The Togolese president Faure Gnassingbé and the Minister for Development Gerd Müller at their meeting in Berlin

Press release of 09.06.2016 |

Berlin – Germany and the Togolese Republic will expand their cooperation in the health sector. That was the result of today's meeting between Federal Development Minister Gerd Müller and Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé in Berlin.

Germany, in cooperation with the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM), is supporting the national reference laboratory in Togo to rapidly identify pathogens. Only three months ago, Togo confirmed two cases of Lassa fever, a disease that is very similar to the Ebola virus. The sooner a disease is fully diagnosed, the more effectively it can be prevented from spreading. A rapid-response group of health experts that has been initiated by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has been advising the reference laboratory for a month at the request of the Togolese government. The BNITM, the Robert Koch Institute and the Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) have been commissioned by the BMZ to close any gaps in Lassa diagnostics on the ground and train local staff.

"The Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea has shown us over the past two years how epidemics can bring public life and the economy of an entire country to a standstill, setting back the development of the country by years," Development Minister Gerd Müller said. "By sending our 'white helmets' we are helping Togo help itself."

The meeting with President Gnassingbé took place on the occasion of the German-Togolese working discussions on development cooperation. Both sides agreed, in particular, to invest more in vocational training and employment opportunities for young people and to improve the productivity of the Togolese agricultural sector and food security. Togo is home to one of the BMZ's twelve green innovation centres in Africa. Another focus area will be promoting renewable energies in order to improve energy supply in rural areas.

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