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Centre for International Health Protection (ZIG)

Johanna Hanefeld
Charbel El Bcheraoui, Iris Hunger

In a globalised world, where outbreaks of infectious diseases easily cross borders, national and international health protection are closely linked. At the same time, interactions between people, animals and the environment get ever more intense and create additional health risks. Therefore, resilient public health systems – from local to global – as well as expert exchange and international networking are crucial for public health. The “Centre for International Health Protection” at the Robert Koch Institute, abbreviated as “ZIG” in German, works with partner countries and international public health actors to strengthen public health systems and to respond to public health emergencies worldwide.

ZIG focusses on all public health functions relevant to international health protection: from surveillance, to diagnostic capacity, programme evaluation, operational and implementation research, public health workforce development, emergency structures and processes, and other relevant functions. The centre integrates and makes available core competencies of the RKI for international health protection. More than 80 experts from all over the world bring their interdisciplinary expertise and experience to bear in ZIG. A Scientific Advisory Board of international health experts guides and supports the work of ZIG.

ZIG is divided into six units:

The origins of ZIG

The RKI became an active contributor to the Ebola outbreak response in 2014-2016 in West Africa. In the aftermath of that outbreak, Germany made global health a priority during its G7 Presidency in 2015 and during its G20 Presidency in 2017. The international tasks of the RKI were anchored in the German Protection against Infection Act in 2017, and the Federal Ministry of Health set up ZIG at the Robert Koch Institute in 2019. ZIG’s work is now contributing to the implementation of the Federal Government’s Strategy on Global Health that was adopted in October 2020.

Date: 06.10.2023