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Fighting Covid-19 around the world

Direct funding, experts, technology: How German development cooperation is helping partner countries to combat the pandemic.

Helen Sibum, 15.04.2020
Nairobi © picture alliance /

There are 40 laboratories in the whole of Africa that can diagnose the Covid-19 virus. Mali has a population of 19 million people, but only five ventilators. In Malawi there are 100 intensive care beds for 17.5 million people. Germany’s Development Minister Gerd Müller calls attention to these figures. He points out that it is in Germany’s interest to support poorer countries in the fight against the virus. “We can only stop the spread of Covid-19 by working together – at home and everywhere in the world,” says Mr Müller. German development cooperation is helping in numerous different ways.


  • Financially: According to Federal Development Minister Müller, Germany is providing its partner countries with one billion euros in emergency aid. The country is also the largest donor contributing 75 million euros to the World Bank’s Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility. Germany is also making a contribution together with its European partners: the EU is aiming to support poor countries with 15 billion euros.

  • Professionally: The rapid response group of specialists (Schnell einsetzbare Expertengruppe Gesundheit - SEEG) helps with speedy diagnostics to identify and curb the spread of diseases. The group consists of experts from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM) and the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ). The SEEG was originally created in response to the Ebola outbreak in Western Africa in 2014.
  • Technologically: Digital instruments are also available. For instance, Ghana and Nigeria are already using the open-source system SORMAS (Surveillance, Outbreak Response Management and Analysis System) funded by the Federal Development Ministry. The Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) developed the system together with others including African partners, also following the 2014 Ebola outbreak.


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  • Economically: Minister Müller also refers to the economic consequences for developing countries. For example, Bangladesh is very dependent on the textile industry, but now many orders are being cancelled. Mr Müller wants to utilize the cooperation of German companies in the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, in order to bridge this phase and ensure that many jobs are saved.


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