COVID-19 does not know borders. It has become a worldwide problem and all countries need to fight the virus. Therefore, international collaboration and joint forces are now needed more than ever!
The collaboration between the Namibian Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) and the German Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in form of a Twinning Project started early this year. The project is funded by the German Ministry of Health in the framework of the Global Health Protection Programme. Soon after the project start, the activities shifted to the joint fight against COVID-19.
In March this year, a mission of the RKI together with the German Epidemic Preparedness Team (EPT) corrdinated by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) conducted a joint and just in time training for the Namibian Institute for Pathology and UNAM to build up local capacities for COVID-19 testing to prevent its further transmission in Namibia. One week later the first COVID-19 cases were detected in Namibia.
Despite the lockdown and travel restrictions, RKI supported the Namibian COVID-19 response from distance with the provision of urgently needed laboratory consumables, IT-equipment for the Emergency Operation Centre and technical expertise.
“The continuous support of the Robert Koch Institute is an important pillar for the COVID-19 response in Namibia”, highlighted Ben Nangombe, Executive Director of MoHSS. “The current mission will help us to reflect on the achievements made and lessons learnt and be better prepared for the future”. Ellen Gölz, Chargée d’Affaires a.i. at the German Embassy Windhoek added: “The engagement of Robert Koch Institute during the COVID-19 pandemic proofs once more the commitment of Germany for international cooperation, coordination and solidarity as key to an effective global response to COVID-19.”
On request of the MoHSS, the RKI organized a two week mission to Namibia (18 October – 1 November 2020) consisting of nine experts from RKI, one expert from the Global Outbreak and Response Network (GOARN) and an Emergency Medical Team (EMT) with 14 staff members from the humanitarian organizations I.S.A.R. Germany, humedica, and CADUS. The humanitarian organizations were deployed under the coordination of the German National Focal Point for EMTs at RKI. These experts provide urgently needed expertise, trainings, and guidance in
- case management of COVID-19 patients to save lives of Namibians,
- infection prevention and control to protect health care workers and the communities from infections,
- laboratory diagnostics to detect current and past infection and, thus, better understand the spread of the virus within Namibia,
- the implementation of the software Go.Data to facilitate the management of contact tracing and the collected data,
- the management of the Emergency Operation Centre to generate important information on the virus for decision making.
Andreas Jansen, head of the mission, emphasizes that “the main scope of this mission is to share experiences and knowledge among COVID-19 experts from Namibia and Germany; it helps both countries in their common response against the virus. I am particularly impressed by the strong commitment and the solid response coordination in the MoHSS.”
In addition, five blood gas analysers for point-of-care use will greatly improve the management of severely-ill COVID-19 patients in Katutura Hospital and intermediate hospitals of Oshakati, Rundu and Walvis Bay.
Robert Koch Institute (RKI)
The RKI is the public health institute in Germany. In the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, the RKI is continuously monitoring the situation, evaluating all available information, estimating the risk for the population in Germany and providing health professionals with recommendations. To detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the RKI is using a PCR-protocol, which was developed in Germany and which is recommended by the WHO.
The RKI is also a global health hub. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it cooperates closely with partner countries and institutions from all over the world in order to investigate pathogens, tackle outbreaks, to provide reliable diagnostics, train staff and more.
I.S.A.R. Germany is an internationally acting charity relief agency which was
founded in Duisburg/Germany in 2003. The abbreviation I.S.A.R. stands for “International Search and Rescue”. I.S.A.R. Germany is an association of experts of different organizations such as medical relief agencies, search dog teams or firefighters. It is its task to give international support after natural catastrophes, disasters or humanitarian debacles. Since 2007, I.S.A.R. Germany has worked in a close cooperation with the United Nations. This time, the organization was qualified as a so called “Medium Team” of International Search and Rescue Advisory Group. Since 2018 it also offers an Emergency Medical Team (EMT) qualified by the World Health Organization.
humedica e.V. has been providing humanitarian aid throughout the world since 1979. The goal of the non-governmental organization (NGO) from Kaufbeuren is to support those who are in need due to catastrophes or structural poverty. humedica works together with a worldwide network of partners and a large pool of volunteers. The focus of the aid is on the areas of medicine and education.
CADUS is a non-profit and independent aid organization with headquarters in Berlin and regional offices in Northern Iraq and Northeast Syria. In its projects, CADUS focuses on innovation, sustainability, and the development of needs-based local capacities. It works where hardly any other aid organizations are active or where they have withdrawn. Cooperation with local partners is particularly important to CADUS.