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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:

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 to provide a number of bilateral on-site trainings in partner countries as well as regional trainings with WHO and African CDC on SARS-COV-2 diagnostics. In parallel, ZIG received requests for material support for diagnostics. With the travel restrictions imposed in March 2020, the planned on-site trainings were transformed into remote online trainings, in close collaboration with African-CDC and WHO AFRO. Since January 2020, ZIG has received over 55 requests from 32 countries for public health laboratory support. ZIG completed 18 shipments of diagnostics and consumables as well as two shipments of laboratory equipment to partner laboratories (bilateral activities) and 20 shipments of diagnostic material to participants in the remote online training.

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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:
>> The Federal Ministry of Health's 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.

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Date: 04.05.2021