Logo of the World Health Organization (WHO)

Fighting COVID-19 – here and worldwide

The COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest global health crisis in decades. It is exacerbating existing problems and undoing the development progress that had already been made. Germany is actively seeking to mobilise the international community to provide comprehensive support to the world's most vulnerable people to help them deal with the pandemic and its consequences.

(External link)
Cover: German contribution to promoting local vaccine and pharmaceutical production in Africa

German contribution to promoting local vaccine and pharmaceutical production in Africa

File type PDF | Date of status 07/2023 | File size 218 KB, Pages 2 Pages
The global spread of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is threatening not only health but also economic development, stability and peace worldwide. The poorest people are being hit hardest, as they are the least able to protect themselves.

The pandemic is having a dramatic impact. For example:

  • Many already fragile health care systems are reaching their limits. People are dying from malaria, tuberculosis, AIDS and other treatable diseases and conditions because important health services such as tests or treatment have been disrupted as a result of the pandemic. Worldwide, health services for animals and livestock have also been hit by the pandemic.
  • The World Bank expects that due to the spread of the virus, millions more people have slipped or will slip into extreme poverty and the number of people suffering from hunger will continue to rise.
  • Hundreds of millions of people living in developing countries have lost their jobs due to the pandemic – without receiving compensation benefits for having their hours reduced or other allowances to help them.
  • Hundreds of millions of children worldwide were not, or are currently not, able to attend school.
  • The pandemic is also having a disastrous impact on maternal and child health and on women’s and girls’ self-determination. The number of deaths among newborn infants and mothers has increased dramatically in developing countries.
  • Due to school closures, lockdowns and economic stresses, gender-based violence and sexual exploitation increased, in particular among young people.
  • The international economic crisis that COVID-19 has caused is leading to financial crises, over-indebtedness and destabilisation – creating a situation which, in many countries, is then posing a threat to security.

Svenja Schulze, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development
COVID-19 itself is having a devastating impact. But there has also been a massive increase in infections such as malaria and tuberculosis and in hunger and poverty. Violence against women is on the rise and more human rights violations are taking place. The situation is dramatic. The key to resolving it is to give people worldwide access to vaccines.
Svenja Schulze Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development

Stopping the spread of the virus

The spread of the coronavirus, both in Germany and worldwide, needs to be slowed down and ultimately stopped. Based on current knowledge, this can only be achieved in the long term through sufficient global vaccine coverage.

The developing countries and emerging economies are facing much the same challenges in this regard as we are in Germany. However, many countries, in particular in Africa, lack the means to adopt the necessary measures. Against this backdrop, the World Health Organization (WHO) has drawn attention to the limited capacity of African health systems in particular, which needs to be boosted if they are to adequately respond to the further spread of the coronavirus.

In addition, the WHO has repeatedly criticised the unequal distribution of vaccines and other vital medical supplies across the world. Its target is to vaccinate as quickly as possible at least 70 per cent of each country’s population.

German activities

That is why the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is working to specifically bolster the health infrastructure in developing countries and ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics, oxygen and medicines.

The focus of BMZ activities in this respect is on:

  • providing financial support to the international cooperation platform for developing, producing and ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, medication and diagnostics (Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, ACT-A), and the COVAX Facility vaccines pillar which is part of ACT-A
  • strengthening laboratory infrastructure – among other things, by deploying rapid-response teams known as German Epidemic Preparedness Teams;
  • assisting with hygiene and sanitation measures and the training of medical staff, and providing special training in how to detect the virus and treat those who are infected;
  • assisting with the development of local vaccine production capacities; in 2021, the BMZ mobilised more than 500 million euros for this purpose, in particular for Senegal, South Africa, Rwanda and Ghana;
  • supporting vaccination campaigns and vaccine logistics in partner countries; the BMZ is assisting 19 partner countries with implementing vaccination campaigns.

Through its Emergency COVID-19 Support Programme, the BMZ has provided more than four and a half billion euros for this work. In fact, the development budget has been adjusted specifically for this purpose, and less urgent issues have been temporarily put on hold.

In order to minimise the impact of the pandemic on sexual and reproductive health and rights, the BMZ has also increased, under its Emergency COVID-19 Support Programme, its core contributions to the United Nations Population Fund and to the International Planned Parenthood Federation. In addition, the BMZ also began in 2020 supporting the UNFPA supplies partnership in order to close gaps in the provision of contraceptives and other supplies.

Detailed information on Germany's efforts to bring about equitable worldwide distribution of COVID-19 vaccines via the COVAX vaccination initiative can be found here.

German Epidemic Preparedness Team (SEEG) Laboratory experts helping to fight the spread of COVID-19

The SEEG teams bring together experts from the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, Charité university hospital, Berlin, the Friedrich Loeffler Institute (Federal Research Institute for Animal Health), the Robert Koch Institute and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). They assist the partner countries of German development cooperation by providing training for local healthcare professionals and by helping purchase lab materials.

Still from the video on the German Epidemic Preparedness Teams at work
The German government deploys the German Epidemic Preparedness Team (SEEG) to prevent and address acute disease outbreaks. It established the SEEG in 2015 in response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. (Video in German with English subtitles)

Graphic representation of the One Health approach: One Health is at the centre and there are interdependencies between human health, animal health and a healthy natural environment.
The work that the teams' experts do follows a One Health approach. They assist our partner countries in diagnosing and containing at an early stage outbreaks of disease that could develop into an epidemic or pandemic.

The SEEG teams are deployed on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), working in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

The current COVID-19 pandemic has seen SEEG teams on active assignments in numerous countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

As at: 14/10/2022