Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Failures in the fight against corona – report: Ministry of Health refuses money for RKI reforms

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According to its top management, the RKI is in need of reform. Appropriate reform plans, such as for digitization, are on the table. But apparently the Ministry of Health is blocking the funding.

According to a media report, the Federal Ministry of Health under Karl Lauterbach (SPD) is blocking reforms at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for financial reasons. According to information from “Welt am Sonntag”, the ministry has informed its subordinate authority informally in recent weeks that the federal government will provide no money or only a fraction of the required sums for the implementation of several project plans that have already been drawn up to modernize the authority. Corresponding commitments had therefore been made in the past legislative period.

Specifically, it is about projects for digitization and monitoring the state of health of the population. The corona pandemic made it clear that the institute had some catching up to do when it came to digitization. The collection of data by the authority, which was sometimes only able to provide incomplete data on the health crisis, caused criticism again and again.

Authorities head Lothar Wieler and his management team had therefore been working on a better line-up in the past few months. Among other things, they brought in high-ranking experts to set up a center for artificial intelligence and an infrastructure for a broad survey of the population on the state of health of Germans. According to the newspaper, for example, the Ministry of Health does not want to provide any money for the construction of this so-called panel – which means that it has been worked on for months in vain.

According to information from “WamS”, Wieler and other heads of authorities were not invited to the Ministry of Health this year to present their financing needs, as they had been in previous years. According to the report, neither the RKI itself nor the Lauterbach department answered questions about the refused funding.

Last year, a small inquiry in the Bundestag revealed that the RKI and other subordinate authorities of the Ministry of Health had more than 100 IT experts are missing in order to position themselves for the future. The deliberations in the Bundestag on the current government budget are still ongoing. Improvements are possible until the adoption in June.

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