Sharing knowhow and joining forces towards Health for All

MMI in 2007: A Year of Transition

The year 2007 can, for several reasons, be considered as a year of transition in the 45 years of history of the Medicus Mundi International Network: it was the first effective year of MMI’s first multiannual policy plan 2007-2010, a plan that had carefully been developed the year before and that was endorsed by the General Assembly of MMI in May of 2007; a year in which a new Executive Board was elected and in which MMI was able to welcome the German Catholic organization Misereor as a new member; a year also in which Medicus Mundi Belgium unfortunately ceased to exist with the subsequent necessity for MMI to relocate its secretariat from Brussels to the premises of Medicus Mundi Switzerland in Basel.

Because of the changing contexts in “Southern“ countries and changing policies of MMI’s members, NGOs and Governments in the “North”, Medicus Mundi International started in 2005 to develop a new strategy for the years to come. During the process of development of the strategy the following issues have been determined, in close consultation with all MMI members, as a focus of MMI’s work for the coming four years:

  • The development of a strong MMI network
  • Strategies to keep competent and motivated staff available for health care institutions
  • To bridge the „appropriate technology gap” in basic health care
  • Strategic repositioning of church-based health care facilities

The objectives, activities and the expected results for each of these issues have been formulated and are described in the plan. In order to realize concrete results within the framework of the new policy plan, working groups of representatives of MMI members will be formed. The mandate of these working groups is to formulate annual plans around the strategic issues, detailing concrete activities, budgets and results.
Cordaid has committed itself to take for the coming years the lead for the subject of “Human Resources”, CUAMM for „Appropriate Techno-logy” and Medicus Mundi Switzerland for „Strategic repositioning of church-based health care facilities“. The MMI secretariat and president will work out plans for the development and reinforcement of MMI as a network.

Executive Board
During the General Assembly of Medicus Mundi International in May 2007 a new MMI Executive Board was elected. The membership had proposed four new members to take place in the Board: Nick Lorenz on behalf of Medicus Mundi Switzerland, Nina Urwantzoff on behalf of Misereor, Monique Lagro on behalf of Cordaid and Giovanni Putoto on behalf of Doctors with Africa.

Giorgio Pellis (Doctors with Africa CUAMM) Edith Boekraad (Cordaid) and Edgar Widmer (Medicus Mundi Switzerland) retired from the Board. During the General Assembly all MMI members expressed their gratitude to the retiring members for all work they did for the network over the last years. During this General Assembly special attention was given to the departure of Edgar Widmer from the Board: Edgar served on the Board for a long period of time and was the MMI president for two terms. During his tenure, Edgar Widmer developed strong relationships with the Holy See that are of strategic importance for the MMI Network. He also personally stimulated and supported the creation of a new MMI member, Medicus Mundi Poland. As a president Edgar maintained many personal contacts with representatives of MMI members.
During the same General Assembly Edgar Widmer and Bart Criel (Medicus Mundi Belgium, Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp) were nominated advisor to the Board. Sake Rypkema, another former MMI president with a great track record of contributions and support to our Network, retired as advisor to the Executive Board.

Network Members 

Misereor, the Catholic organization for overseas development cooperation in Germany, joined the Medicus Mundi International Network in 2007. Misereor was founded in 1958 as the development agency of the Catholic Church in Germany and implements currently important programs on development and on poverty reduction in Asia, Africa and Latin America. A considerable part of Misereor’s programs concern basic health care in developing countries.

Unfortunately another member of MMI, Medicus Mundi Belgium, established in the early sixties, had to stop its activities in 2007. One of the consequences was that MMB could not host the MMI secretariat of any longer.

Executive Secretariat

When it became clear that Medicus Mundi Belgium was not in a position to host MMI’s executive secretariat any longer, MMI’s Executive Board requested the membership to submit proposals for hosting the secretariat. At the same time it became also increasingly clear to the MMI Executive Board, that the realization of the ambitious objectives of the MMI’s long term policy plan (2007-2010) would not take place unless MMI would be able to rely on a reinforced executive secretariat that is not only well equipped to perform the basic executive secretarial services, but that is also able to develop a common IT platform for MMI members, to support the organizational development of MMI and to initialize and support the MMI working groups, necessary to implement the MMI long term policy plan.

In 2007 a detailed proposal was submitted by MM Switzerland to host the executive secretariat within the structures of the MMS secretariat in Basel. During 2007 an agreement was negotiated between MMI and MMS which lead eventually to the MMI’s decision to transfer the executive secretariat from Brussels to Basel. Needless to say that MMI‘s Executive Board was extremely happy that MMS was found prepared to assume all secretarial responsibilities for MMI as per 1 January 2008. On the basis of his past experience within MMS and because his shown competence, Thomas Schwarz, the executive secretary of MMS since a number of years, was appointed executive secretary of Medicus Mundi International.

The developments as mentioned before meant also that Medicus Mundi International had to bid farewell to Frederica Wijckmans who had been MMI’s unflagging and inexhaustible executive secretary since the MMI secretariat had been located in Brussels, early 1991. A farewell dinner with Frederica and all former MMI presidents was scheduled to take place in January after a workshop on a Health Conference for Church leaders in DR Congo. During the General Assembly in Padua, Frederica was praised extensively for all work she did for MMI over the last 17 years and for her high commitment to the goals and objectives of Medicus Mundi International.

In the transition year 2007 we believe that MMI  has laid a new and a firm basis for the coming years, a basis that enables the Network and its members to effectively work on our mission: to fight poverty by promoting health.

A YEAR OF TRANSITION. By Guus Eskens, MMI President, in: MMI Annual Report 2007

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