Stepping up international health protection

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Global health strategy Stepping up international health protection

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that health is a global good and that diseases do not stop at national borders. The global health strategy adopted today by the German Cabinet aims to promote international health and avoid disease – in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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Logo of the World Health Organization

The German government would like to reform and strengthen the WHO.

Photo: imago images/IP3press

Global health has become increasingly important in recent years, and not just since the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Antimicrobial resistance and the consequences of climate change also illustrate the importance of the issue.

Harnessing Germany’s expertise

With the new strategy, which bears the full title "Responsibility - Innovation - Partnership: working together to shape global health", the German government would like to harness Germany’s political engagement and expertise, especially in the following areas:

  • Promoting health and preventing disease  
  • Addressing the environment, climate change and health holistically
  • Strengthening health systems
  • Protecting health – addressing cross-border health hazards
  • Forging ahead with research and innovation for global health.

The challenges of global health can only be addressed together, by networking and coordinating international efforts. "In the 21st century health hazards do not stop at national borders. That is why we want to address public health protection more at global level – that is a key lesson we have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic," stressed Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn. 

The strategy thus indicates ways to further step up consultations, coordination and cooperation as partners with relevant stakeholders, especially at multilateral level. One important point is working to reform and strengthen the World Health Organization (WHO).

The strategy builds on the global health policy adopted in 2013 "Shaping global health – taking joint action – embracing responsibility", which was the first time the German government had laid out in detail Germany’s contribution in this policy field. The new strategy will replace the 2013 strategy. It covers the period 2020 to 2030. The approach will be subject to an inter-ministerial mid-term review in 2025.

Driven by SDG 3 (good health and wellbeing)

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides the framework for the political engagement of the German government. It also drives the strategy adopted today, in particular Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3: "Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages."

Health is one of the 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It embraces 13 targets, including universal health coverage, reducing communicable and non-communicable diseases, preventing and treating narcotic drug abuse and the harmful use of alcohol, managing global health risks and reducing the number of illnesses from pollution.

Back in 2017, the German government accorded global health a prominent place on the G20 agenda. In 2018 Germany, along with Norway and Ghana, initiated an Action Plan to achieve the Health-Related Sustainable Development Goals.