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Contribution to the COVID-19 response

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, RKI has been actively supporting international crisis response. The RKI is a valued partner for public health institutions worldwide when it comes to the exchange of experience regarding the management of the COVID-19 outbreak. RKI’s Centre for International Health Protection (ZIG) has been continuously analyzing the international epidemiological situation through its public health intelligence team and is regularly in contact with health ministries and public health institutions in numerous countries. As of mid-March 2021, ZIG has provided assistance and advice on all public health aspects of outbreak response to over 70 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

Map of international activities of ZIG in the framework of COVID-19 support (Source: RKI) Map of international activities of ZIG in the framework of COVID-19 support Source: RKI

Field missions

Requests for COVID-19-related field missions arrived at RKI either via the WHO Emergency Medical Team Secretariat, via the GOARN mechanism, through GIZ, the German development cooperation agency, in the form of SEEG missions or via bilateral requests. ZIG staff, in cooperation with other RKI units and partners outside RKI, supported the following field missions:

2022

2021

2020

In addition, support was provided through the EMT National Focal Point (NFP) for the international deployment of German Emergency Medical Teams (EMTs) to assist local health facilities and ministries of health, e.g. in Armenia, Cameroon and Mongolia.

Laboratory diagnostics support

During the early phase of the epidemic, ZIG prepared a series of bilateral on-site trainings in partner countries, as well as regional trainings on SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics in cooperation with WHO and the African CDC (Africa-CDC). In parallel, ZIG received requests for material support for diagnostics. With the travel restrictions imposed in March 2020, and in close collaboration with the Africa-CDC and WHO AFRO, the planned trainings were eventually transformed into web-based trainings available in 4 languages (https://zenodo.org/record/4058349). As part of these trainings, ZIG facilitated more than 20 deliveries of diagnostic materials to participants of the online trainings. The first deliveries were sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali and Zimbabwe on 15 April. As part of the international cooperation, Africa-CDC selected the participating countries and facilitated the contact.

In total, ZIG has received nearly 100 requests from almost 50 countries for public health laboratory support since January 2020. Requests have included training on SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics, including typing of emerging variants, diagnostic materials and laboratory equipment. In this context, ZIG facilitated more than 50 shipments of diagnostic materials and consumables, as well as two shipments of laboratory equipment to bilateral partner laboratories.

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Research and other projects

The existing international health projects coordinated at RKI have used their resources and personnel to prepare for and support outbreak response in partner countries. Public health capacities that have been built up in recent years are making a visible contribution in many places to a more timely and successful crisis management. In addition to strengthening diagnostics, these capacities focus primarily on improved infection prevention and control.

Further information:
>> Corona Global projects in the framework of the Global Health Protection Programme (GHPP)
>> German Biosecurity Programme of the Federal Foreign Office

In addition, ZIG has initiated a number of specific COVID-related research and other projects to answer urgent response-relevant questions.

>> Read more

Date: 03.03.2022