Kirstin Grosse Frie

German-African Cooperation in Global Health: The Role of Social Sciences in Higher Education Degree Studies, Training, and Research Projects


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Global health has gained in importance in Germany in recent years and became visible quite recently both at German institutions of health education and research and on the political agenda of various ministries. What exactly is meant by global health remains vague. In particular, the inter- and transnational conditions and effects of health and disease outbreaks are seen as specific to global health, which requires an inter- and transdisciplinary perspective that includes social science aspects and methods. Africa has also moved into the focus of Germany’s international cooperation policies in recent years. Due to the lack of medical personnel in Africa and also in Germany, the education and training of medical personnel in Africa plays an important role in German-African cooperation in the health sector. Cooperation in the training of health personnel can have primarily economic reasons, but may also follow other interests, such as aid, exchange and cultural diplomacy for the German and African side. While the training of medical personnel is primarily clinically oriented, at least in Germany there is a strong tendency towards less clinically oriented training and study programmes in the health sector. The inclusion of social sciences in the training of physicians and nurses in the curricula is also mandatory. However, the integration of the social sciences is only reflected to a limited extent in the institutional funding of German-African health projects, although it can be assumed that these aspects also play an important role in the training of health personnel in Africa. Greater integration of social sciences into German global health education and research could contribute to this also being incorporated into German-African cooperation. This way, social scientific global health research in Germany and Africa would help to analyse determinants of health at the meta-level so that they can be taken into account in national and international strategies and laws and may be implemented in health projects.

Global health, health professionals, social sciences, health education, international relations