Germany and Tunisia tackle pandemics together

16.11.2017 - Press release

Infectious diseases can not always be stopped by borders, increasing the need for them to be dealt with on an international level. This is why Germany is collaborating with Tunisia to decrease biological risks by providing a mobile laboratory.

Dangerous diseases know no boundaries. That is why Germany is helping countries such as Tunisia to minimise biological risks.

This is a milestone in the fight against pandemics and the spread of chemical warfare agents: on November 9, Germany handed over a state‑of‑the‑art mobile laboratory to Tunisia.

If there is a danger from highly infectious pathogens, the Tunisian authorities will now be able to rapidly analyse the risk and respond in the proper manner.

Increased security only through cooperation

Tunisian experts undergoing training at the laboratory
Tunisian experts undergoing training at the laboratory© GIZ

Biological risks do not stop at national borders. If biological warfare agents are used, or highly infectious pathogens cause a global pandemic, the dangers can only be tackled via cross-border cooperation.

That is why Germany is providing over 18 million Euro to help partners such as Tunisia to minimise biological security risks.

In order to ensure comprehensive biosecurity, however, cooperation needs to be both cross-border and cross-sectoral. “Decision-makers and experts from various fields must work together seamlessly to minimise risks and, if necessary, provide an effective response,” said Andreas Reinicke, German Ambassador to Tunisia, at the laboratory handover.

Lieutenant General Dr Michael Tempel, Surgeon General of the German Armed Forces, emphasised that this approach was already being put into practice in the German-Tunisian partnership.

He told the audience at the handover: “The focal point of activities in Tunisia is to train experts from the military, the police force and healthcare institutions. They are trained in how to diagnose highly infectious pathogens quickly and correctly and how to prevent their spread.”

Using their newly acquired knowledge, these experts then act as multipliers in their respective institutions.

Comprehensive engagement for biosecurity

German Ambassador to Tunisia at the handover of the mobile laboratory
German Ambassador to Tunisia at the handover of the mobile laboratory© GIZ

The German project partners, too, espouse this intersectoral approach. The German Armed Forces Institute of Microbiology is working with the German development agency GIZ in Tunisia.

In turn, their project is part of a larger-scale engagement within the framework of the German Government’s Enable and Enhance Initiative.

Within the framework of this initiative, the German Foreign Office and the German Ministry of Defence coordinate closely and initiate projects with partners worldwide.

The aim is always to enable selected partners to take even more responsibility in response to regional threats.

In addition, Tunisia is a priority partner country for the German Biosecurity Programme. This programme was launched by the German Foreign Office in 2013 and is currently active in 12 countries.

It is part of the German Government’s preventive security efforts, and one of Germany’s contributions to the G7 countries’ Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction.

The programme activities help to reduce biological risks and the related danger of proliferation.

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