Berlin (GKKE / vfa). The Joint Conference Church and Development (GKKE) and the Association of Researching Pharmaceutical Companies (vfa) have advocated for increased efforts to improve health care in developing countries. In their joint statement released today, “Health in Developing Countries,“ they called upon the government and parliament to expand the existing aid while making it more effective. It is hoped that this new approach will be initiated after the parliamentary elections.

One concrete measure that the authors recommended was to harmonize future activities of the ministries for health, development cooperation and research within the field of global health by means of a specific coordination body. A subcommittee for health in developing countries should be established in parliament as well.

Of the numerous shortfalls of health care in developing countries, inadequate personnel is especially a problem, explained the Chairman of the GKKE, Prelate Dr. Bernhard Felmberg. It is dependent upon the training of sufficient specialized staff and retaining them in their respective developing countries through appropriate employment opportunities. This is one component of the broad development of health care systems with which development cooperation must become more involved than before. In doing so, it is essential that non-state institutions have an equal stake in the process. “I am thinking primarily of the various medical services supported and funded by churches which provide in some African countries up to 40 percent of all health services,“ states Felmberg.

The CEO of the vfa, Cornelia Yzer, emphasized that the health situation in developing countries must be improved for the sake of the people, “but also because health is a prerequisite for reaching other development goals, both economic and political.“ Pharmaceutical firms are already involved in the donation of drugs, the support of health programmes and with the development of new medications for diseases that emerge particularly in poorer countries; they cooperate closely with public institutions and foundations in these endeavors. For the expansion of such partnerships, however, engagement by the state is necessary – engagement for which one can hope from the federal government. “If the government incorporates the competencies of civil society and the private sector into its measures for improving health in developing countries, this could significantly enhance the government’s contribution to attaining development goals. Researching pharmaceutical companies are prepared to cooperate with public agencies that stimulate such collaborative efforts.“

The statement “Health in Developing Countries“ was prepared by the Working Group Churches/Pharmaceutical Industry. Representatives of both the GKKE and the vfa are members of the working group. The vfa is the Association of Researching Pharmaceutical Companies. This group has been working for quite some time on bringing the various experiences and opinions of those involved closer together and developing concrete approaches to addressing the problems. The working group recently published a white paper on fighting tropical diseases which affect people in poverty.

Both the Church Development Service (EED) and the German Commission for Justice and Peace work together within the Joint Conference Church and Development (GKKE). Functions of the GKKE include preparing statements and encouraging dialogue within politics and society on issues of north-south relations. More at: http://www.gkke.org

The German Association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical CompanThe German Association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (vfa) is the trade association of the research-based pharmaceutical companies in Germany. It represents the interests of 47 globally leading research-based pharmaceutical companies and more than 100 subsidiaries and affiliated companies in the areas of health, research and economic policy. The vfa member companies make up about two-thirds of the German pharmaceutical market and employ more than nearly 90,000 people in Germany, including about more than 17,000 in research and development. The vfa's press conferences – now available on the Internet. For more information, please visit: www.vfa.de/en/press/online-pk-akkreditierung-en.html