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Strengthening health care systems in Africa

10.04.2015 - Article

From 7 to 10 April, Ambassador Lindner, Special Representative for the Fight against Ebola, accompanied by Health Minister Gröhe and Development Minister Müller, visited Ghana and Liberia.

Müller, Gröhe and Lindner on their flight to Ghana
Müller, Gröhe and Lindner on their flight to Ghana© Photothek/Grabowsky

Ambassador Walter Lindner, Special Representative of the Federal Government for the Fight against Ebola, accompanied by Health Minister Gröhe and Development Minister Müller, has travelled to the region that has been worst affected by Ebola. An additional 200 million euro are to be made available through a special Federal Government aid programme.

On Tuesday, 7 April, Lindner, Müller and Gröhe set off on their four-day trip to Ghana and Liberia. They were there to learn about how countries worst affected by Ebola were rebuilding after the outbreak. Prior to the trip, Lindner gave the following statement:

Of course we see light at the end of the tunnel in fighting the Ebola epidemic. But the last mile is still very bumpy – there may well be setbacks.

This “last mile” on the road to zero infections is particularly challenging for the affected countries, Lindner went on to say, since what is needed now is no longer just large-scale quarantine and treatment of those who have been infected, but also long-term change in behaviour that is deeply ingrained in local tradition. It is equally important to rebuild and strengthen the health care systems in the region.

Walter Lindner talking to German Médecins Sans Frontières helpers in Monrovia
Walter Lindner talking to German Médecins Sans Frontières helpers in Monrovia© AA

Visit to Ghana and Liberia

The first destination on the joint trip by Lindner, Gröhe and Müller was the Ghanaian capital Accra, which they visited on 7 and 8 April. Although Ghana itself has not suffered an Ebola outbreak, it serves as the logistics hub for getting supplies to the most severely affected countries, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – where more than 10,000 people have died during the epidemic. The Ministers and the Ambassador visited several research institutes that are supported by Germany, as well as an Ebola diagnostic laboratory. Their agenda included a meeting with Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama.

The delegation spent Thursday and Friday (9 and 10 April) at its next destination, Liberia. Here, Lindner, Gröhe and Müller visited a hospital near Monrovia, where they spoke with volunteers. In future, Germany will more strongly focus its development cooperation efforts on rebuilding and strengthening the health care system. This stop included a meeting with the Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

A German Transall aircraft with UN aid supplies for Sierra Leone
A German Transall aircraft with UN aid supplies for Sierra Leone© UN Photo/Buckley

Moving from emergency aid to rebuilding and stabilising

The international community was slow to react to the Ebola epidemic. However, in recent months, significant success has been achieved in the fight against Ebola. The number of cases has been falling steadily and staying down. The most important challenge now is the transition from emergency humanitarian assistance to rebuilding and stabilising the affected countries.

So far, Germany has contributed financial aid in the amount of 195 million euro to the fight against Ebola. In addition, it has provided logistical support: The German Bundeswehr has transported some 700 tonnes of aid supplies to the affected regions, while the Federal Agency for Technical Relief has been supplying medical treatment facilities in Sierra Leone with drinking water. Numerous volunteers have been engaged in fighting the outbreak, many of whom have been trained by the German Red Cross.

200 million euro for a special aid programme

The Federal Government wants to remain engaged in the countries that have been worst affected by Ebola: A special aid programme has been established, with a budget of 200 million euro. It aims to strengthen these countries’ health care systems, improve medical care, and enhance crisis response capabilities, also in the future.

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