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MMI Network News, February 2010

MMI Network News, February 2010

Editorial: The swine flu pandemic - a fake?

Dear reader,

"The swine flu backlash has begun", states Jeremy Laurance in a recent Lancet editorial: "As the pandemic has subsided, concern about the global response to it is rising. If this turns out to be the weakest pandemic in history, as it currently appears, it will pose some tough questions for the scientific community."

...and not just for them. The "fake pandemic" has become an issue of global health governance, and journalists, advocates and politicians sharpen their knives against the World Health Organization: "Are decisions on pandemics taken on the best scientific evidence only?" was a key question asked at a public hearing of the Council of Europe into the handling of the H1N1 pandemic. And: “Is WHO too close to the pharmaceutical industry?”

Dr Keiji Fukuda, WHO's flu chief, defended his organization: "Let me state clearly for the record: The influenza pandemic policies and responses recommended and taken by WHO were not improperly influenced by the pharmaceutical industry. This current influenza pandemic is a scientifically well-documented event in which the emergence and spread of a new influenza virus has caused an unusual epidemiological pattern of disease throughout the world. This is not an arbitrary matter of word-smithing, definitions or polemics. The labelling of the pandemic as 'fake' is to ignore recent history and science and to trivialize the deaths of over 14 000 people and the many additional serious illnesses experienced by others."

At the WHO Executive Board meeting in January, DG Margaret Chan stated: "When the history of this pandemic is written, I believe that the speed of actions taken by governments to protect their populations will earn the highest marks. This has been the most closely watched and carefully scrutinized pandemic in history. We will have a wealth of new knowledge as a result. It is natural that every decision or action that shaped the response will likewise be closely and carefully scrutinized. WHO can withstand this scrutiny."

Jeremy Laurence concludes: "It is easy to be wise after the event. The influenza virus is capricious, the disease elusive, and our remedies imperfect. Far better to be prepared before it. But every £1 billion spent protecting us from H1N1 is £1 billion not available for other health needs. These are questions that demand to be asked." The debate on the "swine flu fake" is a thrilling one - also for those of us advocating WHO leadership in global health governance. To be continued…

Thomas Schwarz, Executive Secretary
Medicus Mundi International Network


Network news and resources added to the MMI electronic platform

MMI Network News: Joint advocacy
International recruitment of health personnel:
WHO code of practice will be sent to 63rd WHA for approval

MMI secretariat | The issue of health workforce migration was on the agenda of the 126th session of the Executive Board of the World Health Organization. The WHO EB discussed the revised draft code of practice on international recruitment and agreed to submit it to the World Health Assembly, in May 2010. As an NGO in official relations with the WHO, the Medicus Mundi International Network was invited to appoint a representative to the WHO Executive Board meeting. In her statement, Anke Tijtsma (Wemos) welcomed the improvements made in this revised version of the code but nevertheless raised several issues that would further strengthen the ability of State and non-State actors to adhere to the code and enhance its overall impact.

MMI Network resource: action medeor (and others)
Supporting Community Responses to Malaria

STOP MALARIA NOW developed a new training manual to strengthen capacities of Community Based Organizations in application processes of the Global Fund to Fight HIV/Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The contents are based on results of the needs assessment ‘Capacity Needs of CBOs in Kenya in Terms of Application Processes of the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM)‘, conducted in June and July 2009.

MMI Network resource: Cordaid
Quest for Quality. Guide for in-country discussions

cordaidpartners | The Cordaid "Quest for Quality" report was launched in May 2009 at a side event to the World Health Assembly. Now Cordaid published guidelines how to make use of the cases presented in the report for in-country discussions on Human resources for Health. "The guide is intended to be used in discussions among people working in the field of HRH or who have tasks related to the management of health staff. It can be used for HRH discussions at different levels - at the level of umbrella organizations of FBOs, at district level, or at health facility level - and in different settings such as decentralized or centralized settings etc."

MMI Network Paper: Medicus Mundi Spain
Conceptos básicos sobre cooperación y educación para el desarrollo

FAMME | Medicus Mundi Navarra, a member or the Federation of Medicus Mundi Spain FAMME, published a reader on basics of cooperation and education for development (Spanish language, 2009, 146 pages) which can be downloaded from the FAMME website.

MMI Network Paper: ITM Antwerp
Dar Naïm's community health insurance scheme

ITM | ”Dar-Naïm’s community health insurance scheme (Mutuelle Communautaire de Dar-Naïm or MCSDN) was founded in January 2003 and focused on one of the poorest areas of Nouakchott, Mauritania. An equity fund was added end 2005 to allow membership for the destitute and to cover their insurance premium.  This publication describes and analyses the roots, development and modus operandi of the equity fund and contains useful lessons for other initiatives that aim to improve access to care for the poorest." (extract from summary)

MMI Network papers: Cordaid
Development Aid: death watch or lifeline?

cordaidpartners | ”What will Cordaid’s strategy be the coming years? The debate on development cooperation is heated. Cordaid reflects on the questions and challenges surging from the experience and from the questions and challenges that are raised. Cordaid’s director René Grotenhuis gives his vision on development aid in  an article that he wrote for the Dutch magazine 'de Internationale Spectator'.”


MMI Network Events

MMI Network Event
Meeting of the Executive Board of Medicus Mundi International
The Hague, 26 February 2009

MMI Secretariat | The upcoming EB meeting will focus on the development of a new midterm strategy of the MMI Network. The invitation and documentation will be published in time on the MMI ePlatform. Get in touch with the MMI secretariat if you wish to participate.

MMI Network Event: Cordaid (and others)
Responsible governance for improved human resources for health: Making the right choices
Amsterdam, 15-16 March 2010

KIT Amsterdam | ”The conference is being organized around the main elements for responsible governance for improved HRH and will consist of a number of keynote presentations, parallel sessions and plenary discussions. During the final plenary session, key messages to strengthen governance will be drawn up, based on the conclusions from the previous sessions. The aim of the conference is to develop an understanding of how attention to wider governance issues in the development and implementation of HRH policies and strategies can lead to better performance of health systems. The conference should achieve better understanding of the influence of governance on HRH; identification of gaps in the role of governance; insight into examples of promising practices; and formulation of key messages to strengthen advocacy. Organizers: KIT, Cordaid (member of the MMI Network), WHO, ICN.    

MMI Network event: Medicus Mundi Switzerland
The future of the global AIDS response – implications for NGOs
Bern, Switzerland, 14 April 2010 | “ The global economic crisis that has induced cutbacks in the spending of Government and international donors also threatens efforts for an effective response to HIV and AIDS. In addition, a backlash against disease-specific initiatives can be observed in the international arena. On the other hand, HIV and AIDS with a present high of 33.4 million people living with HIV remains a serious global problem, reaching out beyond the health sector – and a united concerted effort is needed more than ever. Annual conference of, the Swiss platform for HIV/AIDS and international cooperation organized by Medicus Mundi Switzerland. 


International Health Policy - MMI Updates on Twitter

International Health Policy - MMI Updates on Twitter

MMI Secretariat | Since we started to use the real-time short messaging service "Twitter", we published there already some 220 bits and pieces of news on international health policy. Each "MMI 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:

  • Draft Resolution on Global Health and Foreign Policy at the UN General Assembly
  • Financing of health systems to achieve the health MDGs in low-income countries. Fryatt et al. in: The Lancet
  • Rethinking Poverty. Report on the World Social Situation 2010 (UN ESA)
  • How healthy is your city? World Health Day, 7-11 April 2010
  • Public Ends Private Means. Engaging the private sector to improve access to quality care. IFC (
  • Retention and equitable distribution of health workers: WHO will develop evidence-based global recommendations
  • Meeting the demand for results and accountability: A call for action on health data from eight global health agencies
  • The Cog in Health Systems. Global Health Magazine, Winter 2010
  • Health Worker Migration: Disease or Symptom? Michael A. Clemens in: Global Health Magazine
  • Doctors and Nurses. Film on health workers shortage, retention, international migration. Rockhopper/BBC World (25 min.)
  • Growth of aid and the decline of humanitarianism. Editorial in: The Lancet (free registration required)
  • WHO EB: World Health Organization to hold consultation on report of Expert Working Group on R&D financing (KEI blog)
  • Is our Health in the Right Hands? Sisule F Musungu on the 126th WHO EB session. Ideas in Development Blog
  • WHO Executive Board, 126th Session, 18–23 January 2010: Agenda and documentation
  • Donor-recipient relationship. How can African governments regain control of the aid process? L Whitfield, DIIS PDF
  • HAI survey on the actual cost of medicines: "A one day snapshot of the price for a course of ciprofloxacin 500mg tabs"
  • Towards a "WHO that is fit for purpose: relevant, focused, and credible". DG M Chan discusses role of WHO, January 2010
  • Globalization and Health: The role of knowledge in an interdependent world. Lecture by J Frenk, 15 December 2009 (videocast)
  • Global Health System: Strengthening national health systems as next step for global progress. J Frenk in: PLoS Medicine
  • Too close to pharmaceutical industry? WHO statement "Use of advisory bodies in responding to the influenza pandemic"
  • Integration of control of neglected tropical diseases into health-care systems. JO Gyapong et al. in: The Lancet
  • The Health Impact Fund: a new way of stimulating research and development of life-saving pharmaceuticals
  • Public health, innovation and intellectual property. WHO Expert Working Group report (for WHO EB, January 2010, PDF)
  • OECD Health Data 2009: statistics and indicators for 30 countries (updated in November)
  • Global H1N1 flu campaign: EU to probe pharmaceutical companies over “false pandemic”. Lynne Taylor in: PharmaTimes
  • The global health system: actors, norms, and expectations in transition. Nicole A. Szlezák et al. in: PLoS Medicine
  • Are patents impeding medical care and innovation? A debate (R. Gold, W. Kaplan, J. Orbinski et al.) in: PLoS Medicine
  • The Healthcare Imperative: Lowering Costs and Improving Outcomes
  • Global Health Justice. Jennifer Prah Ruger arguing for universal ethical norms and shared responsibility. A SSRN paper
  • Neglected tropical diseases - beyond the tipping point? DH Molyneux, The Lancet (new series - register for free access)
  • The mixed health systems syndrome (focus: how to regulate and integrate private providers). S. Nishtara, WHO Bulletin

Follow the MMI updates on Twitter:



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