Fighting infectious diseases – a goal of the international community

Laboratory for the analysis of highly infectious samples for the diagnosis of Ebola, Malaria, Dengue and other tropical diseases at the University of Accra, Ghana

Curbing the spread of communicable diseases is a key global development goal agreed by the international community under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Target 3 of Goal 3 states that we must, by 2030, "end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases."

Some encouraging steps towards this target have been taken in recent years. But to sustain this progress and maintain an effective response to infectious diseases, an ongoing and persistent commitment on the part of the international community is essential.

In its development policy, Germany is committed to realising the human right to good health and well-being for all. It has therefore made the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, polio and other communicable diseases a key objective.

Supporting the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund)

The Global Fund is a major funding instrument based on international cooperation between governments, civil society and the private sector. In financial terms it is now the strongest partnership in the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

Supporting programmes worldwide, the Global Fund has disbursed funds totalling 38 billion US dollars (based on 2017 figures). Thanks to its support, some eleven million people have gained access to antiretroviral treatment, receiving drugs to contain the spread of HIV and prevent the onset of AIDS. It has also enabled 17.4 million tuberculosis sufferers to be treated. As for action against malaria, as many as 795 million impregnated mosquito nets have been distributed with the Global Fund’s help.

Germany is the fourth largest donor to the Global Fund, providing roughly 2.5 billion euros since its foundation. Moreover, Germany has also been a key player in efforts to make the Global Fund more transparent and more effective.

Creating knowledge hubs: BACKUP health

Germany also supports the work of the Global Fund through the BMZ-commissioned "BACKUP Health" initiative. BACKUP stands for "Building Alliances, Creating Knowledge and Updating Partners".

The programme is designed to provide partner countries with the expertise needed for good projects. This means making approvable project applications to the Global Fund and then ensuring that the funds granted are used effectively and efficiently. In facilitating the sharing of information and experience, BACKUP works closely with international organisations as well as state and civil society organisations in the partner countries.

Since 2002, BACKUP Health has, in more than 560 projects, assisted governmental and non-governmental partner organisations in some 90 countries. Switzerland has been cofinancing the programme since 2013.

Exploiting synergies: advice on family planning and HIV/AIDS

Distribution of condoms in the African island state of São Tomé and Príncipe

There are numerous overlaps and points of contact between the sphere of sexual health and family planning, on the one hand, and HIV prevention efforts, on the other.

First, poor sexual and reproductive health and high HIV infection rates are often driven by the same social factors, above all gender disparities, inadequate access to information, sexual violence, and social exclusion.

Second, measures often have a positive impact on both spheres. For instance, young people need access to information, advice and contraception not only to avoid unplanned pregnancies but also to protect themselves against HIV. And efforts to avoid teenage pregnancies serve both HIV prevention and women’s reproductive health.

As for antenatal services, they offer good opportunities to advise women on both family planning matters and on HIV. By the same token, HIV services can be an instrument for family planning assistance. This is why Germany, through development cooperation, advocates and promotes better use of potential synergies in these fields.

Promoting local pharmaceutical production

Manufacture of a malaria drug in Bukavu (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Germany is promoting in its partner countries the local production of affordable medicines. In Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, for instance, Germany is been supporting measures to establish the local manufacture of generics.

In the East African Community, Germany is assisting the roll-out of the Regional Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan of Action. The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has, for instance, helped draw up a regional roadmap for achieving good manufacturing practice in line with WHO standards. In several partner countries, new instruments have been established for professional training in the pharmaceutical industry and for cooperation with regulatory authorities.


Development projects aimed at combatting communicable diseases are frequently confronted with a range of obstacles, including poorly developed health care systems, lack of access to health services, shortages of health professionals, and insufficient financial resources.

Moreover, still lacking in many countries is the political will to make a larger investment in the health sector. We also encounter a widespread failure to involve civil society in efforts to fight infectious diseases. And further obstacle is posed by unequal power relations within society. Women, in particular, are increasingly falling sick with AIDS as a consequence of their weaker social and economic position. On top of these factors come the disruptions caused by wars, civil wars, refugee flows, and corrupt practices, which further exacerbate development cooperation on health.

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