1 Speech by the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development

Speech by the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development
Cooperation, Lilianne Ploumen, at Dräger Medical, Lübeck, 19 March
Your Majesties, Ministerpräsident Albig, Minister Meyer, Mr Dräger,
ladies and gentlemen,
It’s a pleasure to be here today at Dräger Medical. Dutch interests in the
area of my portfolio – foreign trade and development – could hardly be
served better than here in Northern Germany.
Let me first explain the less obvious part of that statement. For us, a
mobile phone is convenient. But that is nothing compared to the impact
this technology has had in developing countries.
With a mobile phone, an African farmer can check where he can get a
good price for his products. So, in a way, the mobile phone delivers food
to where it’s needed and provides the farmer with a livelihood. With a
mobile phone and mobile medical apps, a doctor can diagnose patients in
faraway places. So, for many people, mobile phones can mean the
difference between life and death.
The future has arrived early and it looks brighter than we expected. One
of the highly creative and innovative companies with me on this trade
mission is Bioneedle. They have invented a new vaccination technology. It
doesn’t require needles, syringes, vials or refrigeration. Instead, tiny
implants are delivered under the skin using compressed air. They then
start to dissolve, releasing the vaccine.
The producers stress that the procedure is painless. That fact alone
should appeal to potential users. But now look at the potential gain for
the developing world! There is no lesion, no possibility of needle
contamination and no waste. That means many thousands fewer
infections by HIV, hepatitis or – dare we hope it? – Ebola.
When companies like Bioneedle start looking for reliable partners, it isn’t
surprising that they end up here in Lübeck. The Dutch and German health
systems are among the best in the world. The Dutch health system was
recently named the best in Europe for the third time running, while
Germany is world famous for its quality standards. The equipment
manufacturers here are world class, and Dräger is one of the leading
global players.
What’s more, this part of Germany is familiar territory for the Dutch. Our
economic ties go back well over six hundred years, to the 14th century
when several Dutch cities joined the Hanseatic League. We are used to
working together. Once we traded in timber, wheat and rye. Now we find
each other in health care. Again: no surprise there. We face similar
challenges, such as demographic ageing, growing demand for high quality
health care and more people with chronic diseases.
Some excellent examples of German-Dutch cooperation in health care
already exist, for instance the collaboration between the University of
Lübeck, the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf and Philips in
the area of clinical imaging methods.
The Dutch and German governments promote such initiatives. We work
closely on global health issues by supporting R&D and innovation in the
field of poverty-related diseases. We help develop products relating to
Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.
Where possible, we also encourage Product Development Partnerships, or
PDPs, which bring together knowledge from the fields of science, industry
and civil society. They contribute greatly to our common goal of getting
new products on the market and making health care accessible and
affordable for all. I would very much welcome the participation of Dutch
and German companies and academia in these partnerships.
So let me end by making an appeal.
Also, meine Damen und Herren, lassen Sie uns gemeinsam die Zukunft
gestalten. Auf gute Partnerschaft!
Ich danke Ihnen.