Sharing knowhow and joining forces towards Health for All

MMI Network News, November 2009

MMI Network News, November 2009

Editorial: Umbilicus mundi revisited

Dear reader,

We all know that the Earth is flat disk with the North Pole at its center and a 45 m high wall of ice at the outer edge. You do not know? Ask the Flat Earth Society or have a look at the symbol of the World Health Organization, and you will see. But what if the Earth was a sphere, a globe, slightly flattened at the poles and bulging at the equator, rotating, floating through the universe and orbiting the Sun? Obviously this would lead to useless discussions about the centre of this globe’s surface. Try to mark the centre of a ball with a cross... Cultures and empires such as Babylon, Rome, Cusco or the Easter Islands tried it, claiming to be the navel of the world - and later on disappeared. 

Nowadays, international health policy faces the same problem: The times when its map was flat with the World Health Organization in its centre are over. International health policy has become “global health policy”, a world of new empires, potentates and leaders who follow the example of the Greeks and Romans, defining themselves as umbilicus mundi. You do not even need to think about Bill Gates, just take the self-proclaimed “World Health Summit” which took place in Berlin, in October. The event organized by the Charité University Hospital was announced as “…the world’s foremost meeting of researchers, physicians, politicians and stake holders within the healthcare system” and is planned to become an annual event. 

Well, everybody is free to define himself as navel of the World. No problem with that. I do it myself from time to time. But it is difficult to understand why Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy and the Health Ministries of Germany and France accepted to figure as Government partners of that “World Health Summit”. They should have known better. And so they were taught by the crowd: “This health summit is not qualified to address worldwide health issues. Due to its organizational focus and content the summit will more likely contribute to the problems it claims to solve.” (Public Eye on Berlin). Or: “Rather than creating a parallel policy forum, efforts and resources should be spent strengthening the World Health Organization (WHO) as the international coordinating body for issues related to people's health. WHO is one of the United Nation organizations in which each country has a voice. The World Health Assembly thus provides a reasonably democratic decision making process, despite mechanisms used by powerful member states to direct the decisions. We are concerned that the declaration of the World Health Summit is likely to preferentially represent the interests of the Global North, corporations and those who financially sponsor the Summit.” (Statement of the People’s Health Movement)

The Earth is a disk with the World Health Assembly at its center and a 45 m high wall of ice at the outer edge. You do not believe it? Just ask the “Flat Earth Society” or have a look at the symbol of the WHO, and you will see.

Thomas Schwarz, Executive Secretary
Medicus Mundi International Network

World Health Summit website

People's Health Movement statement

Public Eye on Berlin statement


Medicus Mundi International: Network Events and News

MMI Network news:
Wemos intends to join the MMI Network

MMI Secretariat | The Dutch Wemos Foundation intends to join the Medicus Mundi International Network. Since the joint development of a statement to WHO Europe regarding international recruitment of health personnel, Wemos is closely involved in advocacy activities of the MMI Network. The formal decision on Wemos’ admission will be taken by the next Assembly of Medicus Mundi International in May 2010.

Wemos website:
Wemos on the MMI ePlatform:

MMI Network event: Swiss Tropical Institute
Environmental Health: Here and There
Basel, 10-11 December 2009

STI | “To commemorate the merger of the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM) with the Swiss Tropical Institute (STI), the 14th STI Symposium is built around the theme of “Environmental health: here and there”. A diverse set of case studies will be featured, both from industrialized countries and developing world settings. This thematic focus reflects the substantial body of research, teaching and training of the merged STI/ISPM centred on environmental health issues in the North and in the South.” (The Swiss Tropical Institute is a member of the Network Medicus Mundi Switzerland) 

STI website:
Announcement on the MMI ePlatform:


MMI Key Issues and Network Topics: Reports, Events, Resources

MMI Key Issue: Global Health Policy
Participate in the European Commission's online consultation
on the European Union's role in Global Health

MMI Network Flash | The European Commission has launched an online consultation on the EU role in Global Health. The Consultation will run for eight weeks from 14 October 2009 to 9 December 2009. It is part of a process which shall lead to the adoption of a Communication on the "EU’s role in Global Health" during the Spanish Presidency.
The consultation takes the form of an outline document and questionnaire that all EU citizens and relevant organisations are invited to complete and return. Contributions to the document might also be posted online. The consultation puts three main focuses, the first two of them highly relevant for the MMI Network members based in the European Union:

  • Global Health and development cooperation
  • Research and development and Global Health
  • The impact of globalization on EU health
MMI Network Flash, 21 October 2009: 
EC website:

MMI Key Issue: Human Resources for Health
Handbook on monitoring and evaluation of human resources for health

WHO |“This handbook offers health managers, researchers and policy makers a comprehensive and standard reference for monitoring and evaluating human resources for health. It brings together an analytical framework with strategy options, as well as country experiences.” (WHO, WB, USAID, October 2009)

MMI Key Issue: Health Workforce Migration
Health personnel across borders. The Norwegian Position

WHO Europe | “Health personnel are mobile and want to work outside their countries of origin. There is presently considerable international migration of health personnel. Rich countries will have a need for more health personnel in the years to come. The training capacity will probably be insufficient to meet this need. Some countries recruit health personnel from other countries which themselves have a great need for health personnel. Ethical recruitment is a requirement.” (In: Migration and health. Challenges and trends, Norwegian Directorate of Health, May 2009, pages 70 ff., PDF)

MMI Key Issue: Health Financing
Performance Incentives for Global Health: Potential and Pitfalls

CGDev | “Donors have traditionally paid for inputs - doctors’ salaries, medical equipment - in the hope that they would lead to better health. Performance incentives turn the equation on its head. They start with the result - more children immunized, for example - and let health workers and managers on the ground decide how to achieve them.” Rena Eichler et al, CGDev 2009

MMI Key Issue: Access to health
World Health Statistics 2009

WHO | World Health Statistics 2009 contains WHO's annual compilation of data from its 193 Member States, and includes a summary of progress towards the health-related Millennium Development Goals and targets. This edition also contains a new section on reported cases of selected infectious diseases. Available in 6 languages.

MMI Key Issues
International Health Policy Updates on Twitter

MMI Secretariat | Since we started to use the real-time short messaging service "Twitter", we published there already more than 80 “tweets”: small bits and pieces of news on international health policy. Each update is 140 characters or less - these are the rules of the game. Just enough for a headline, eventually an author, a date, the source – and a shortened link to the website where you find the full information. Have a look at some of our tweets published during the last month: 

  • Healthy Expectations. Achievements of the Cairo Consensus (International Conference on Population and Development, 1994), urgency for action. UNFPA 2009 (PDF)
  • The undernutrition epidemic: an urgent health priority. Editorial in: The Lancet, 31 October 2009
  • Peter Lamptey: Think Africa’s Disease Burden is HIV? Think Again. Global Health, October 2009
  • State of the world's vaccines and immunization. Report by WHO, UNICEF and the World Bank: Funding gap leaves millions of children still at risk
  • Global Health risks. WHO report: global risk factors lead to premature mortality, disability and loss of health
  • Call for innovative technologies that address global health concerns, by WHO Department of essential health technologies
  • Health: Unequal improvement. Sector progress report, as part of Social Watch Report 2009
  • Commitment to Development Index 2009: Rich countries' rankings from Sweden to Switzerland
  • Global Economic Ethic – Consequences for Global Businesses. Manifesto launched at UN Headquarters, October 2009 (Global Compact)
  • C. Hafner: Strengthening the Role of Faith-Based Organizations in HRH Initiatives. Capacity Project, September 2009 (PDF)
  • Trading Away Access to Medicines. How the EC’s trade agenda has taken a wrong turn (HAI Europe, Oxfam, Oct 2009, PDF)
  • M. Lewis, G. Petterson: Governance in health Care Delivery: Raising Performance. WB Policy Research WP, Oct 2009 (PDF)
  • G. Lagomarsino et al.: Public stewardship of private providers in mixed health systems. R4D 2009
  • Partnering with faith based organizations for virtual elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV (UNAIDS news)
  • Elly Katabira: Africans researchers are 'losing out' in North-South collaborations (EDCTP forum, Oct 2009, SciDevNet)
  • Health and human rights. New resource for practitioners and advocates (Open Society Institute)
  • Cities and public health crises. WHO report of an international consultation (2009, PDF)
  • L. Garrett et al: All for universal health coverage (...but how to implement these agreements?) Lancet, 10 October 2009 
  • Health: Improving Policy Coherence for Development. OECD Policy Brief, October 2009 (PDF)
  • Miriam Temin and Ruth Levine: Start with a Girl. A New Agenda for Global Health, 2009
  • Closing the Gap in a Generation - Where are we one year after the WHO report on Social Determinants of Health? SM 3/2009
  • Conference: Dateline 2010 - Global Health Goals & Metrics (Global Health Council), Washington, June 2010
  • RG Biesma et al: Global health initiatives and country health systems: evidence from HIV/AIDS control. heapol 2009

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