Strengthening health care systems, fighting epidemics, increasing immunisation coverage

Mother with freshly vaccinated child in South Sudan

Mother with freshly vaccinated child in South Sudan

© Gavi/Mike Pflanz

Fighting infectious diseases, improving child and maternal health, and strengthening health care systems are key concerns of the G7. Health is one of the priorities of Germany's G7 Presidency.

Outcomes of the Elmau summit

The Elmau summit document makes prominent mention of every person's right to health. From a development perspective, this is a great achievement.

One important concern of the G7 summit under Germany's Presidency was to draw lessons from the fight against Ebola. Ebola is a disaster for the people and countries affected by it and threatens the development successes that have been achieved in recent years. Now the G7 have made a commitment to actively strengthen health systems and have offered to assist 60 developing countries, because crises such as Ebola are much less severe where there are functioning health systems.

The G7 also want to set up mobile assistance teams and financing mechanisms in order to be better prepared for future cases, in accordance with the German Chancellor's six-point plan (Lessons Learned Initiative). The BMZ, in cooperation with other federal ministries, is making important contributions to emergency measures and has overall responsibility for medium- to long-term recovery and preventive measures on the ground. In addition to the emergency measures, the BMZ has earmarked 205 million euros for a health initiative with our West African partners.

But the G7 commitments for more, and more efficient, research into neglected tropical diseases are also very important for developing countries, as it is their people who are most affected by these diseases.

Replenishment of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance in January

One major step was that the BMZ succeeded in making sure that Germany would host the replenishment conference for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, in January, at the beginning of its G7 Presidency. This was a major success and an important G7 contribution to child health. Pledges at the conference actually exceeded the envisaged replenishment target of 7.5 billion US dollars. Over the next few years, more than 300 million children worldwide can be immunised thanks to these pledges. We want to ensure that, by 2030, no more children will die from preventable diseases. The G7 are thus sending an important signal that those Millennium Development Goals that have not yet been achieved, such as reducing maternal and child mortality, will continue to be pursued with great vigour after 2015.

Gavi is an alliance of the governments of donor and developing countries, private enterprises, international organisations, foundations and civil society. The BMZ hosted the conference; Chancellor Merkel was its patron.

Immunisation saves lives. It is one of the most effective ways of preventing infectious diseases. To date, Gavi programmes have led to more than 500 million children being immunised and thus protected against life-threatening diseases. The German government has scaled up its contribution to Gavi significantly, to a total of 600 million euros for the period up to 2020.

German activities in the health sector

German development cooperation in the field of health focuses on strengthening national health systems on a sustainable basis, and on the human right to health. The Ebola crisis is a painful reminder that, in countries with well-functioning health care systems, diseases can be quickly stopped in their tracks and immunisation programmes more easily organised. That is why the German Development Minister, Gerd Müller, hosted a conference on strengthening health care systems on the day before the actual Gavi replenishment conference.

We must help the poorest developing countries to expand and strengthen their health care systems so that they too can meet relevant health targets. Our goal is to ensure good health care for all.

from the Charter for the Future "ONE WORLD – Our Responsibility"