“You can't let people live like this!”

Professor Helge Braun, Head of the Chancellery, long-time supporter in combating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)

Berlin - January 27, 2020. On the occasion of the first World Day against Neglected Tropical Diseases on January 30th, 2020, Prof. Dr Helge Braun, Head of the Chancellery was guest at the fireside chat of the German Network against Neglected Tropical Diseases (DNTDs). It’s rarely known that Professor Braun with his expertise as a medical doctor has been committed since long times to combating neglected tropical diseases. At the fireside chat, he reaffirmed his personal commitment. He stated that due to his experience in federal politics he knows about the limiting factors many countries have because of lacking functioning health systems. They are limiting factors for building up prosperity, security and peace policy. He hoped that the current outbreak of the Corona virus will raise awareness of the need for good global cooperation. Professor Braun further pointed out that a holistic approach to fighting diseases is important, but the goal should not be lost sight of. That is why there is a need for committed people who "persevere" and cited the Guinea worm eradication program as a good example.

He said that the German federal government supports the WHO in the fight against neglected tropical diseases and will continue to support it. When asked about the renewal of the so-called London Declaration in Kigali this year, he said: “The issue is more pressing today than it was at the time of the London Declaration. So why shouldn't anything happen?” Personally, he would be happy if more programs could be launched. Because, with a view to the sick, the Head of the Chancellery stated: "You can't let people live like this,"

It was among others Professor Braun who was involved in the fact that issues of global health, including neglected tropical diseases, have been on the international agenda of the annual summits of heads of state and government since 2015. Since then these diseases have received increased attention and found their way in the final declaration of the G7 summit in Elmau in 2015 and G20 summit in Hamburg 2017. Through his influence, the health and research ministers of the G7 and G20 countries have recognized the importance of fighting neglected tropical diseases and have spoken out in favor of increasing their commitment to measures against these diseases.

A fund to support product development partnerships for NTDs and other poverty-related diseases was set up in 2011 under his leadership at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Under his leadership, the Federal Chancellery hosted the 3rd Germany Forum in 2017 on the topic "What is important to people - global health and innovation". Neglected tropical diseases were one of the central topics.

At Professor Braun's suggestion, a comprehensive study of the research landscape in neglected tropical diseases in Germany was also carried out.

As Minister of State in the Federal Chancellery, Professor Braun initiated the round table “Neglected Tropical Diseases” in 2015, 2016, 2017 together with the German Network against Neglected Tropical Diseases (DNTDs). For the first time, representatives of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG), the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Federal Foreign Office (AA) met with members of the Bundestag and the DNTDs to discuss the activities of the Federal government to report both in research funding and in the fight against NTDs on site in endemic countries. Today, ministerial representatives meet regularly to discuss global health issues.

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