Meeting des International Advisory Boards zu Global Health

Rede des Staatssekretärs im Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, Dr. Georg Schütte, in Berlin

Your Excellency Ambassador Michèle Boccoz,

Estimated members of the International Advisory Board on Global Health,

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to speak here today.

This morning, you have already talked about specific measures implemented by the different ministries of the federal government in the area of global health. I would like to provide you with a short overview of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research’s activities.

When it comes to addressing the global health challenges with dedicated initiatives, be it national or international ones, paving the way spanning the different political sectors involved is essential for a successful implementation. Big unknowns remain when addressing specific global health challenges. These easily turn into bottlenecks as they often require particular, dedicated efforts in research and development.

This is reflected in the diversification of funding activities in the Ministry of Education and Research, the BMBF, in recent years. In particular the German G7 presidency in 2015 has clearly been a major turning point. We have expanded our funding concept “Global health in the focus of research” with its four pillars:

  1. national funding projects and research institutes,
  2. Product Development Partnerships (PDPs),
  3. European and Developing Countries Clinical Trial Partnership EDCTP and
  4. the Research Networks for Health Innovations in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The BMBF has doubled its financial contribution in the second funding round for EDCTP to a total of 30 million euro for a total of 10 years until 2024.

EDCTP is also addressing the fundamental need to build and strengthen capacity in Low and Middle Income Countries. To support capacity building activities even stronger, the BMBF has launched the initiative Research Networks for Health Innovations in Sub-Saharan Africa. Currently, five research networks are working on different disease issues with particular relevance to Africa and their results will ultimately feed into the national and regional African health systems. The networks are funded with 50 million euro for five years and additional support is given to strengthen the research management capacities of the African institutions.

Looking closer at research and development I would like to highlight the importance of filling all necessary gaps in order to cover the full value chain, from basic research to product development. In addition, access and regulatory procedures play a crucial role in the field of global health and have to be thought of from the start. Product Development Partnerships have shown to be an effective way of integrating the diverse stakeholders required. After a positive evaluation of its PDP-funding initiative, BMBF has doubled its financial contribution in the second round of funding. It is currently funding 6 PDPs on neglected tropical and poverty-related diseases with a total of 50 million euro for 5 years until 2021.

Looking only at the recent BMBF commitments from 2017 that are not specifically mentioned in the funding concept gives another snapshot of the importance of R&D in global health for the German government. BMBF is founding member of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and has committed a total of 90 million euro for the coming years starting in 2017. CEPI brings together a range of diverse stakeholders to develop much-needed vaccines for the prevention of future pandemics. It builds on the prioritization of pathogens with pandemic potential elaborated in the WHO Blueprint list.

Also in 2017, following the G20 Leaders’ Declaration BMBF committed 50 million euro of funding in the next five years to the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership GARDP, a joint initiative of the WHO and the product development partnership “Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative” and part of the WHO Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance.

The examples I have given illustrate the current emphasis the BMBF is putting within its research for global health, namely infectious diseases with a strong focus on antimicrobial resistance, pandemic prevention as well as neglected tropical and poverty-related diseases.

Looking ahead for 2018 we face the challenge to get up the Global AMR R&D Hub the G20 heads of state called for. Germany is chairing an interim board preparing the implementation of the hub as a central coordinating and stimulating entity for Global AMR R&D. On another note, 2018 will see two very important events for Global Health in Berlin. 1st the World Health Summit, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary as a major Global Health incubator, and secondly the Grand Challenges Meeting of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which the German Government has happily agreed to host.

Both events are unique opportunities to showcase the high importance Germany attaches to Global Health issues and to demonstrate both the current and future leadership Germany is and will assume in this field.

The importance of the cooperation of different stakeholders on these dedicated questions is crucial for the success. This is mirrored in the coordination of global health spanning a range of ministries, in Germany mainly the Ministries of Health, of Research and of Development Cooperation. But looking at pandemic crises or questions on access to products, also aspects in the realm of the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Economics come into play. It is this broad scope in the field of Global Health policy that makes our task so demanding. But it also provides a unique chance to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to combat global health challenges.

And this is where you come in - esteemed members of the International Advisory Board. I view this forum as an opportunity of exchange between internationally renowned experts and the federal government with all its relevant ministries acting on global health. The further development of the government’s global health strategy will be a joint undertaking by all the ministries involved, especially the Ministries of Health, Research and Economic Development. And I am confident that you will provide us with valuable advice on specific developments and suggestions on aspects of research and development that could be considered in this process.

I am looking forward to your input and am grateful for the time and expertise you dedicate to this important task.