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Foreign Minister Steinmeier and Health Minister Gröhe on the first deployment of the European Medical Corps

21.07.2016 - Press release

Commenting on the first deployment of the European Medical Corps in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Foreign Minister Steinmeier said on 20 July 2016:

"The European Medical Corps is about to have its first deployment. By sending experts from the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine and the Robert Koch Institute ‑ Federal Institute for Infectious and Non-communicable Diseases, Germany is making an important contribution. It is good that this idea, of which we were one of the main initiators in the wake of the Ebola crisis, has become a reality. In the European Medical Corps we have an instrument which combines our operational capabilities at European level so that through rapid, joint, coordinated action we can react effectively to future epidemics, no matter where in the world they occur."

Health Minister Gröhe said:

"The Ebola crisis reminded us once again that there needs to be a global approach to health. Diseases do not stop at national borders. We have therefore ensured that in future rapid-response teams of epidemiologists and lab experts can provide speedy help on the ground following outbreaks of dangerous diseases. We have thus made it possible for a mobile lab team to be deployed for the first time in the framework of the European Medical Corps. In sending experts from the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine and the Robert Koch Institute we are providing important support for efforts to tackle the outbreak of yellow fever in the Democratic Republic of the Congo."

Background information:

The "EU White Helmets initiative" proposed by Foreign Minister Steinmeier following the Ebola crisis has been implemented in the framework of the existing EU disaster risk reduction measures as the "European Medical Corps". Germany was one of the first EU member states to participate in the initiative, with funding from the Federal Foreign Office for an isolation hospital to treat highly-infectious patients (German Red Cross), logistical and technical support for medical teams (Federal Agency for Technical Relief, THW) and the provision of laboratory capacities (Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine).

The "EMLab" of the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine is currently participating in the European Medical Corps’ first deployment in the Democratic Republic of the Congo along with experts from the Robert Koch Institute. The request for this technical support came from the WHO as a result of an acute epidemic of yellow fever which spread from Angola towards the Congo Basin. Resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are insufficient to ensure diagnosis and vaccination for all those affected, measures necessary to identify those who have been infected, assess the scale of the outbreak and carry out vaccination campaigns in the areas hit.

The Federal Foreign Office is supporting the lab’s three-month deployment in Kwango province under its agreement with the EU on the European Medical Corps.

Within the scope of its global health programme, the Federal Ministry of Health supports, inter alia, laboratory projects at the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine and the Robert Koch Institute. This means that when there is an outbreak of disease, such as the current yellow fever in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, qualified personnel and mobile laboratory facilities are available to provide rapid aid. The experts from the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine and the Robert Koch Institute are deployed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo within the framework of the European Medical Corps.

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