Sharing knowhow and joining forces towards Health for All

MMI Network News, May 2010

picture: IBFAN
picture: IBFAN

Editorial: Learning from the baby milk code

Dear reader,

In 1989, The World Health Assembly adopted the "International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes" as a "minimum requirement" to protect infant health. The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes was the first of its kind, an internationally adopted and endorsed code of conduct related to a key issue of global health policy. Although WHA recommendations are generally not binding, they "carry moral or political weight, as they constitute the judgement on a health issue of the collective membership of the highest international body in the field of health." (S. Shubber, The International Code, Digest of Health Legislation).

The International Code was prepared by the World Health Organisation and UNICEF after a process of widespread consultation with governments, the infant feeding industry, professional associations and NGOs. This resulted in a Code that was/is weaker than the ideal with some definitions and articles open to interpretation – allowing the industry to use imaginative methods to circumvent certain of the Code’s elements. Nevertheless, the Code has become a unique and indispensable tool to protect and promote breastfeeding and to ensure that marketing of breastmilk substitutes, feeding bottles and teats is appropriate - an instrument that has truly been transformative and saved the lives of countless infants. The implementation of the Code is a success story for the WHO - and for a broad international coalition of civil society organizations advocating for the adoption of the code and monitoring its implementation.

Commemorating the 30th Anniversary of the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN), funded in 1979, Anwar Fazal, then President of the International Organization of Consumers Unions, pointed out: "It was a truly revolutionary birth; among the parents were a small Swiss student activist group, a global consumer organisation, a small activist development group that published 'The Baby Killer', one of the largest development and humanitarian aid group, a magnificent grassroots group that challenged corporations through boycotts and a church based centre interfaith centre for corporate responsibility. Born in the bosom of the John Knox International Centre in Geneva, this special unique potpourri of civil society blossomed into the first 'network' of its kind ever and generated a magnificent proliferation of global people power that was quite unprecedented in those times."

In May 2010, the draft WHO "Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel" will be presented to the 63rd World Health Assembly for adoption. The Code of Practice has been developed by the World Health Organization through a multi-stakeholder consultation process. It aims to promote the equitable balance of the interests of health workers, source countries and destination countries, while placing particular emphasis on ameliorating the negative effects from the international migration of health workers on countries experiencing health workforce crises. 

As in 1989, there is a broad civil society coalition advocating for the adoption of the Code of Practice. As the World Health Assembly approaches, we started to ask ourselves: Once the Code is adopted, how to ensure its impact? Implementation and monitoring of the Code of Practice are the big challenges ahead, not only for the World Health Organization and the Member States, but also for civil society. This is why the MMI Network and a series of other organizations will convene, as a side event to the World Health Assembly, a forum for international civil society organizations interested in health worker migration in order to discuss the role of civil society in monitoring compliance with and supporting implementation of the Code.

Networking and coalition buildings seems to be easier today than in the "revolutionary" times of the fight for the “baby milk code”. Nevertheless, it has to be done, and its success will not depend on the availability of smart new "networking tools", but on commitment, endurance and cooperation. It will be a long march anyhow. Let us do the next steps.

Thomas Schwarz, Executive Secretary
Medicus Mundi International Network

IBFAN history and statements:
WHA side event 2010:



MMI Network: Geneva Events, May 2010

MMI Network Event
WHO Code of Practice on the International Recruitment
of Health Personnel: If adopted, ensuring impact?
Geneva, 18 May 2010

MMI | Exploratory discussion on the role of civil society in monitoring compliance with and supporting implementation of the WHO Code of Practice. A civil society side event to the World Health Assembly organized by the Medicus Mundi International Network together with a broad range of organizations and networks. If you like to attend the meeting, you must be registered as a WHA delegate: Please do this immediately!

Program updates, contact details, WHA registration through MMI Network: 

MMI Assembly and Board meeting
Geneva, 20 May 2010

This year's General Assembly will be a milestone in the development of the MMI Network. The Board will present to the Network members its strategy for the next five years. The election of the Board and of a new Chairperson (Guus Eskens has to step back, as, according to the statutes, the chairperson may only be re-elected once in succession) and the admission of two new members (Wemos foundation and Smile Train Italia) are other highlights of the meeting. Please get in touch with our secretariat if you want to participate, but have not received the invitation. The full Assembly documentation will be available on the MMI ePlatform (internal section) on 10 May 2010.     

63rd World Health Assembly and related events
Geneva, 17-21 May 2010

The agenda of this year's World Health Assembly includes, among other items, the implementation of the International Health Regulations (2005); the global strategy and plan of action regarding public health, innovation and intellectual property; the monitoring of the achievement of the health-related Millennium Development Goals; and the draft global code of practice on international recruitment of health personnel.

As an organization in official relations with WHO, the Medicus Mundi International Network is invited to appoint representatives to the Assembly and to make statements under items concerning technical issues. As in the past years, we invite members and partners of the MMI Network to benefit of this opportunity and to indicate to our secretariat until 13 May 2010 which  delegates of your organizations we shall include in our list of Network representatives.

We will also soon start to publish on our website WHA related events of other civil society organizations and networks.

List of related events:


Network News and Resources added to the MMI electronic platform

MMI Network Report: Cordaid
Human Resources for Health Context Analysis: Tanzania

cordaidpartners | “The main purpose of this HRH context analysis in Tanzania is to improve the understanding of the existing HRH policy environment and strategies; to highlight challenges and opportunities in the HRH strategy implementation and opportunities; and to identify innovative HRH approaches for implementation by different stakeholders in the Tanzania context.”Odass Bilame, Laurenti S. Masui, Cordaid 2010 (download as word file)    

MMI Network Marketplace: Cordaid
Performance Based Financing - Training Course
Zambia, 5-17 July 2010

cordaidpartners | ”We have the pleasure to announce that Cordaid will organize a Performance Based Financing (PBF) course in collaboration with HDP Rwanda and SINA Health. The technical course facilitator is Dr Robert Soeters who is a well known international PBF specialist and we are also glad to present Dr Godelieve van Heteren as the adult learning expert. Other facilitators will be from Rwanda, Zambia and Tanzania.”

MMI Network Conference Report: Medicus Mundi Switzerland
The future of the global AIDS response
Bern, 14 April 2010 | The documentation of the annual conference of, the Swiss platform for HIV/AIDS and international cooperation organized by Medicus Mundi Switzerland, is available now.

MMI Network Campaign: STOP MALARIA NOW
“Insight Malaria” Film Project and Contest

Köln, April 2010 | "You are a young film maker and interested in development issues? You want to know how malaria affects people’s life in Africa and want to share this knowledge with others? You are between 18 and 25 years old? You are creative and motivated to work with an international film team? Then be part of our international “Insight Malaria” film production in Kenya and submit your application until 14 June 2010. Eight young film talents are chosen from Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland and will travel to Kenya for the film shooting in September 2010. They will jointly develop the screenplay of their film, and thereby learn more about the fatal effects of the global disease. Professional film producers from Germany will assist and support the group before, during and after the shooting."

The "Insight Malaria" film project and contest is a joint activity of the STOP MALARIA NOW campaign and mainly featured by action medeor (Germany), Medicus Mundi Spain, Medicus Mundi Italy and the Foundation of Humanitarian Aid (Medicus Mundi Poland).


International Health Policy: MMI Updates

  • Effective Ways to Realise Policy Reforms in Health Systems. J Hurst, OECD Health Working paper No. 51 (PDF) 
  • Online discussion on mid-level health workers, 4-18 May 2010. Global Health Workforce Alliance, HRH Exchange Community 
  • Retaining health workers in remote and rural areas. Special issue of WHO bulletin 
  • Global Health Watch 3: Contribute to the alternative World Health Report. Call for case studies and testimonies 
  • The unconscionable health gap: a global plan for justice. L Gostin in: The Lancet 
  • Worldwide adult mortality 15-59 years from 1970 to 2010: a systematic analysis. Knoll Rajaratnam et al., The Lancet 
  • The EU Role in Global Health. Governance, coverage, coherence, knowledge. Final version of the EU communication (PDF) 
  • Healthy workplaces: a model for action. For employers, workers, policy-makers and practitioners. WHO publication (PDF) 
  • Those working on health promotion and those working on human rights can help each other (Interview with Paul Hunt) 
  • Wealth & Health of Nations, 1800-2010 - how long people live and how much money they earn. Animated gapminder graph 
  • Towards the UN MDG Review Summit 2010. Recommendations to the EU. A CONCORD position paper, by BOND UK (PDF) 
  • Conference: Health Research towards Universal coverage. Emerging voices make the difference (Antwerp 8-9 Nov 2010, ITM) 
  • Conference: Negotiating Health in the 21st Century. Global Health Governance in Fragile States (Geneva 29 Nov 2010 HEI) 
  • Advancing health equity through research and practice. Call for research proposals from civil society. By WH0/PHM/GFHR 
  • SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands. WHO campaign promotes clean hands at the point of patient care. 
  • Achieving the Global Public Health Agenda. Dialogues at the Economic and Social Council. UN ECOSOC session 2009 (PDF) 
  • Open letter to WHO DG M. Chan on the issue of WHO's involvement in anti-counterfeiting activities (TWN, HAI and others) 
  • Getting research into policy, or out of practice, in HIV? Parkhurst et al. in: The Lancet 
  • Health Diplomacy and the Enduring Relevance of Foreign Policy Interests. Feldbaum/Michaud in: PLoS Medicine 
  • Malaria 2010: more ambition and accountability please. A themed issue of The Lancet 
  • The Global Malaria action Plan. For a Malaria Free World. By Roll Back Malaria 
  • Is Malaria all sewn up? R Siddiqu / M de Smet, MSF, in PLoS medicine community blog 
  • 25 April is World Malaria Day 
  • 10th World Social Forum: Are we heading down the right path? C Giugliani in: socialmedicine 
  • Paying for Chronic Diseases in Less Developed Countries. Lessons from the global response to HIV/AIDS. P Stevens IPN 
  • Medicines and the Millennium Development Goals. A Chetley in: Health Exchange 
  • Universal access (to HIV prevention, treatment and care) by 2010: scaling up for success. IAS policy paper 
  • Treat Chagas now! Special issue of DNDi newsletter 
  • Global health worker shortage jeopardising development goals. M King in: Guardian KatineChronicles 
  • Politics of aid seen in clash over maternal deaths. M. Cheng (AP): "Progress can jeopardize funding." 
  • Maternal mortality: surprise, hope, and urgent action. R Horton in: The Lancet 
  • Maternal mortality for 181 countries, 1980-2008: systematic analysis of progress towards MDG 5. Hogan et al. in: The Lance 
  • "One Million Safe Schools and Hospitals Campaign" launched on 9 April 2010 
  • Global public action in health and pharmaceutical policies: politics and policy priorities Koivusalo/Mackintosh, IKD 
  • Conference: Selling Sickness - Influence on influence. Pharmaceutical information and promotion. Amsterdam 7-8 Oct 2010 
  • 2010 Reality Check: Time is running out to meet the health Millennium Development Goals. AFGH annual policy report 
  • Some reactions to what we hear (and do not hear) in many a public health conference these days. C. Schuftan is angry 
  • Public financing of health in developing countries: a cross-national systematic analysis. C. Lu et al. in: The Lance 
  • Urban Health Matters: World Health Day 2010


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