German biosecurity programme
Programme title: Implementing the German Partnership Programme for Excellence in Biological and Health Security
Commissioned by: German Federal Foreign Office (AA)
Countries: Priority countries: Morocco, Tunisia, Sudan; also involving Mali, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Georgia and Kazakhstan
Lead executing agencies: Morocco: Ministry of Health, Kingdom of Morocco; Tunisia: Ministry of Health, Republic of Tunisia; Sudan: Federal Ministry of Health, Republic of the Sudan
Overall term: 2013 to 2016
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014 showed how highly infectious diseases can endanger both the health and the security of entire states and societies. Such diseases can be spread as a result of naturally occurring outbreaks, accidents in research laboratories or misuse of biological pathogens. These are what experts refer to as biological risks, which can be minimised by taking measures to strengthen biological security.
Biological risks are reduced in the partner countries taking part in the German Biosecurity Programme and in Germany itself.
GIZ is collaborating with four specialist German institutes on the Biosecurity Programme: the Robert Koch Institute, the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (the Federal Research Institute for Animal Health) and the Bundeswehr Institute of Microbiology.
As well as implementing a variety of project activities, GIZ is contributing to the German Federal Government’s global Biosecurity Programme by financing projects run by other organisations and staffing a programme office in the German Federal Foreign Office.
Together with the Robert Koch Institute, GIZ has developed a methodological framework for implementing biosecurity projects. This biosecurity toolbox covers six areas:
- Disease surveillance
- Detection and diagnosis
- Biosafety and biosecurity
- Improving institutional performance and human resources
- Building a network of health stakeholders
- Increasing awareness of biosecurity
GIZ’s activities are focused on improving institutional performance and human resources, building a network of health stakeholders and increasing awareness of biosecurity. Training courses and seminars are being run to improve collaboration within the health care system on recognising, diagnosing and combating highly infectious diseases. GIZ is helping partner institutions to develop contingency plans in the case of an epidemic and is running training courses on risk and crisis communication in biological emergencies. The programme is also working on setting up expert networks and strengthening the health service by developing national legislation.
Provision of a mobile laboratory for diagnosing Ebola in Mali
During the Ebola crisis, the programme provided Mali with a mobile laboratory for diagnosing dangerous diseases to combat the spread of the epidemic into the country. GIZ is working on this project with the Bundeswehr Institute of Microbiology, which developed the mobile laboratory concept and has adapted it for civilian use. In December 2014, a joint team from GIZ and the Bundeswehr took the laboratory to Bamako and constructed it in the city. In the months that followed, the laboratory played a vital role in successfully stemming the Ebola outbreak in Mali. Over the next two years, GIZ will be helping to train Malian scientists and laboratory staff in Bamako so that they can put the laboratory to a new use.
Moroccan crisis team’s study trip to learn about precautions against Ebola
In 2014, many countries set up Ebola crisis teams to prepare for a possible outbreak. Together with the Robert Koch Institute, GIZ organised a study trip to Germany for the Moroccan Ebola crisis team as a way of promoting the sharing of experience. During the visit, Moroccan and German experts were able to discuss precautions against Ebola and learn from one another.
Media training in Tunisia on risk and crisis communication
In the event of an outbreak of disease, public communication by health authorities plays a key role in preventing panic among the population. GIZ is running media training courses on risk and crisis communication for senior staff in Tunisian health institutions. Press officers and selected representatives from health authorities are learning how to communicate during an outbreak of disease by taking part in simulated press conferences and interviews and pandemic simulation exercises.