Meeting of the International Advisory Board on Global Health

Welcome address by Christian Luft, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, at the BMBF in Berlin

Dr Kickbusch,

Members of the International Advisory Board,

Scientists,

Ladies and Gentlemen!

The third United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal – or SDG 3 – strives to “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” by 2030. It is an ambitious goal. Your goal as an advisory body has been to provide valuable impetus to the development of the global health strategy of the German Federal Government. The aim is to strengthen Germany’s contribution towards achieving SDG 3. Clean drinking water, food safety and adequate health care are no doubt the most important preconditions for a healthy life.

Today, you have come together to discuss the research aspects of global health and to learn more about Germany’s complex research landscape.

Without research, innovation and collaboration, we will not be able to make substantial progress on global health. We need three things to deliver on SDG 3:

  • new drugs and vaccines,
  • novel diagnostics, and
  • new strategies.

Research and development are the indispensable building blocks for this.

For example: If we want to control antimicrobial resistance, we have to develop new drugs. And we have to learn how to make responsible use of these new antibiotics. If we want to combat neglected diseases in developing countries, we need to boost research capacities in the countries affected. And we have to investigate how to apply innovations in these countries’ health systems. In all of this, we must cooperate with other different players. Only then will we be able to tackle the root of the problem in its entirety.

I am therefore particularly delighted that we are gathered here at the Federal Research Ministry to discuss the research aspects of global health together.

We advanced global health on the political agenda during our G7 and G20 Presidencies. The 2015 G7 Summit in Elmau focused on neglected tropical and poverty-related diseases.

Together with the EU Commission, Germany has been chairing a G7 Working Group since 2015. This Working Group aims to systematically map and enhance the coordination of R&D activities in this field. This will enable us to increase the impact of our initiatives and join forces to overcome difficult external conditions. Last year’s G20 Summit was also held under German Presidency. The issue of antimicrobial resistance or AMR was high on the agenda. As a result of the Summit, the Global AMR R&D Hub was set up – as an international umbrella platform for coordinating, enhancing and accelerating research and development on AMR around the world. My Ministry, the BMBF, was happy to assume lead responsibility.

Fifteen countries are currently involved in setting up the Global AMR R&D Hub. The Berlin-based Secretariat recently took up its work. This is a real success!

Between the G7 and G20 Summits, a number of participants in the 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos decided to start an initiative for the development of vaccines. Germany is a founding member of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations or CEPI. We will provide up to 90 million euros in funding to CEPI over the coming years.

One of the responsibilities of the BMBF is to translate political decisions on R&D into targeted policies. I have given you three examples that illustrate Germany’s international commitment.

However, we are also moving ahead with research for global health at the national level. I am delighted to announce today that the BMBF will initiate a “Networking platform on research for global health”. This Platform will enable us to interconnect and advance the German research landscape in this field. We want to bring together researchers to lay the foundation for international, interdisciplinary and cross-sector exchange. The Networking Platform will increase the broad visibility of global health research in Germany and provide a forum for exchange.

This new measure complements our funding measure on “Global health in the focus of research”. You will learn more about this measure in the course of today’s meeting.

We are making substantial progress towards achieving SDG 3 with our funding for initiatives such as CEPI, with targeted funding measures on neglected tropical and poverty-related diseases and with the Global AMR R&D Hub. We are serious about “Ensuring healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” by 2030.

Berlin recently hosted the World Health Summit and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges Meeting. Both events attracted over 1,000 participants each. And both events brought the global community a little closer together.

In the run-up to the World Health Summit, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel together with her colleagues, Norwegian Prime-Minister Erna Solberg and Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, championed the adoption of concrete steps to deliver on SDG 3 by 2030. As a result, the Global Action Plan was drafted under the leadership of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Under this initiative, 11 international organizations in the field of global health have committed to cooperate more closely in the future. The motto “align, account, accelerate”, will guide them as they will identify new ways to enhance the coordination of their activities.

The BMBF also contributes towards achieving this SDG by providing funding for new research projects on the health of mothers, new-borns and children. Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek announced this support at the Grand Challenges Meeting in Berlin. The new funding measure will be launched next year in cooperation with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the African Academy of Sciences.

Our Federal Chancellor put her finger on it when she said: “Health is a global task that we can only solve together.” The expertise of science is key to achieving this goal.

Our thanks and my personal gratitude go to you, esteemed scientists and researchers. Thank you for sharing your research work for global health with us today. I would also like to thank the members of the International Advisory Board. Thank you for your continued commitment and support in the development of the German global health strategy.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I hope that I was able to give you a few first insights into our many different activities in the area of global health research. It is an issue that has developed very dynamically. As you can see, our efforts are centred on internationally coordinated action and targeted, tailored initiatives to solve global health challenges. Today, you have the chance to learn more about our funding programmes. Please make use of this opportunity to engage in discussions and share your perspectives. We need to continue to work on the efficient use of our resources and capacities for global health. R&D practitioners like you play a key role in this endeavour.

Thank you for your Attention.