Global health security

© GIZ/Dirk Ostermeier

GIZ supports the establishment of robust health systems to prevent the uncontrolled spread of health risks.

Challenges in health protection are increasing worldwide. The steady rise in international commercial and passenger transport brings with it not only economic opportunities, but also the threat of the cross-border spread of health risks. These may be of a biological, chemical or radioactive nature. As recently as 2015, the Ebola crisis in West Africa demonstrated the extent to which widespread epidemics can destabilise governments and national economies and jeopardise social cohesion. Further global challenges to health security include the diminishing effectiveness of commonly used antibiotics owing to the development of pathogen resistance, and the transmission of infections from animals to humans.

The revised International Health Regulations (IHR) have been in force since 2005. All signatory countries are obliged to maintain the core capacities needed to avoid, recognise and contain international health risks. Crises should be reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) at an early stage, and their containment should be coordinated by WHO.

GIZ assists its partner countries in making their health systems more resilient. It works with governments and regional organisations in western and eastern Africa to implement the IHR. Through joint planning activities, exercises and coordination processes, it supports the regions as they prepare for possible risks. In selected countries, GIZ also works to build capacities in the areas of disease monitoring, diagnostics, containment and communication. It supports the development of national strategies and the elaboration of emergency and communication plans, defining measures both in advance of crises and for acute situations.

GIZ also promotes protection against infection in health facilities and laboratories by providing equipment in line with needs and by training staff members. GIZ works with specialist German institutes to implement biosecurity measures. This enables highly infectious pathogens to be identified faster and more reliably, improves occupational safety and makes laboratories more secure so that infectious materials cannot be removed from premises.

GIZ is also active in combating antibiotic resistance. It promotes measures to raise awareness of the problem and supports training for medical personnel. In addition, it supports the development of effective systems for diagnosing and monitoring antibiotic resistance and the consumption of antibiotics. In eastern Africa, GIZ is also involved in efforts to promote the integrative management of health risks for humans and animals. This ‘One Health’ approach encompasses both livestock farming and environmental issues.