Tasks and organisation of the Federal Ministry of Health
The Federal Ministry of Health (BMG), with offices in Bonn and Berlin, is responsible for a wide variety of policy areas. The work of the Ministry is focused on the drafting of bills and ordinances as well as administrative regulations.
Its central tasks include safeguarding and advancing the efficiency of the statutory health insurance and long-term care insurance systems, strengthening patients’ interests and ensuring the cost-effectiveness and affordability of the healthcare system.
Another focus of the BMG is health protection and disease control. The Protection against Infection Act (IfSchG) firmly emphasises the importance of prevention, advice and individual responsibility for avoiding infections and it strengthens the public health system.
The BMG also sets the legislative framework for the manufacture, clinical trialling, marketing authorisation, distribution channels and monitoring of medicinal products and medical devices to ensure that the high requirements for their quality, effectiveness and safety are fulfilled. A key perennial task of the BMG and its subordinate authorities is to ensure the safety of biological medicinal products such as blood products.
Beyond that, the Ministry supports research and prevention and facilitates new care structures; this goes, for instance, for mental health, the most common non-communicable diseases (incl. cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes), assistance services for chronically ill persons, child health and the counselling and care of HIV-infected persons and persons living with AIDS. To continuously improve the body of knowledge on the state of people’s health and keep it up to date, the necessary data is collected and evaluated in the context of health monitoring, and the resulting information then shared with policy-makers, academia and the general public.
Every citizen should possess the opportunity to acquire a broad health literacy. Mature and responsible insurance members and informed patients are as essential to a healthcare system as laws and regulations. Extensive knowledge is also useful for disease prevention and control, since it helps to avoid health risks – this includes a wide array of information on drug and addiction risks.
The Ministry’s remit also covers the professional laws on the licensing of health professions that are regulated under federal law, including the corresponding training regulations, to ensure quality of professional practice and thereby also quality of care provision.
European and international health policy
In addition to national health policy, the BMG’s remit also covers European and international health policy. Globalisation, international travel, the opening up towards our Eastern European neighbours have led to a situation in which we must join forces with our partners to address both new risks and threats prematurely considered eliminated where and as they emerge.
Challenges such as the spread of infectious diseases, pandemic prevention and control as well as non-communicable diseases (such as cancers), the health impact of climate change, the diversification of supply chains for medicinal products as well as the shortage of nursing professionals are only some of the many issues that call for European and international cooperation on public health.
The BMG represents the Federal Government’s position on health policy topics in the relevant bodies of the European Union, the Council of Europe and other international bodies, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Moreover, the BMG represents the Federal Government’s position on the public health topics addressed by the G7 and G20.
The goal of the BMG’s bilateral health policy is to pursue cooperation and the exchange of experience with partner countries based on mutual interest: This includes the exchange with neighbouring countries, e.g. on cross-border events, with EU member states on projects and issues at the European level as well as with focus countries worldwide, such as India, Japan, the US and Ukraine.
Within the framework of multilateral health policy, the BMG advocates for the strengthening of international institutions and global health organisations - first and foremost WHO that plays a central leading and coordinating role at the centre of the global health architecture. In this context, the BMG champions, for instance, the promotion of universal health coverage in global health policy.
Moreover, the BMG is also working to secure health equality for the more than 22 million people with a migrant background in Germany. This approach includes specifically addressing and informing the individual target groups, pilot projects in the fields of transcultural opening, recruitment and integration of professionals, preventive healthcare and improving the body of data. In these efforts, the Ministry works together with several migrants’ organisations in a spirit of partnership to, for instance, jointly develop and implement measures to eliminate barriers to accessing healthcare.