Sharing knowhow and joining forces towards Health for All

MMI Network News, October 2010

MMI Network News, October 2010

Editorial: NGOs contribute to health systems strengthening - a matter of course, isn’t it?

Dear reader,

With its strategic focus on health systems strengthening (Network strategy 2011-15) the Medicus Mundi International Network explicitly refers to the health systems strategy of the World Health Organization: Contributing to health system strengthening will be the common denominator of joint enterprises and statements of the Medicus Mundi International Network within the next five years.

What sounds to be obvious – nongovernmental organizations working in the field of international health cooperation support and strengthen health systems – is not taken for granted. NGOs, “if not careful and vigilant, can undermine the public sector and even the health system as a whole, by diverting health workers, managers and leaders into privatized operations that create parallel structures to government and that tend to worsen the isolation of communities from formal health systems (…)” This assessment is, at least, the starting point of the “NGO Code of Conduct for Health Systems Strengthening” first published in May 2008. The code intends to offer guidance on how international non-governmental organizations can work in host countries in a way that respects and supports the primacy of the government’s responsibility for organizing health system delivery.

A matter of course? Well, you can test it yourself, right now, for your own NGO, if you like: How many of the following statements taken from the NGO code correspond with your organization’s standard?

  1. “In areas where trained personnel are scarce, we will make every effort to refrain from hiring health or managerial professional staff away from the public sector, thus depleting ministries and their clinical operations of talent and expertise.” (yes? no? not sure? not relevant for you?)
  2. “We commit to limiting pay and benefits inequity between expatriate and national, rural and urban, and ministry and NGO workers. We encourage compensation structures that provide incentives for rural service and disallow gender-related disparities.” (yes? no? not sure? not relevant for you?)
  3. “We recognize that management capacity in Ministries of Health is often limited. Rather than building parallel or circuitous structures around inadequate capacity, we commit to strengthening governments’ ability to operate effectively and efficiently.” (yes? no? not sure? not relevant for you?)
  4. “We strengthen the capacity of communities to take responsibility for and ownership of their health development, and to become partners with government in the health system, while holding governments accountable for their human rights obligations.” (yes? no? not sure? not relevant for you?)
  5. “We actively advocate with civil society, local institutions and donors for policies and programs that strengthen health systems overall.” (yes? no? not sure? not relevant for you?)
  6. “We commit to designing our activities and programs so that they reinforce primary health care, foster equity and community involvement, and are generally replicable and financially sustainable over time.” (yes? no? not sure? not relevant for you?)

So, are you happy with your score? 6 out of 6? Congratulations! But nevertheless, you might be interested to further discuss the task of contributing to building public health systems and doing no harm. The members of the MMI Network members will meet on 5th November in Amsterdam in a workshop on "Health systems strengthening", reflecting about the role of NGOs and of their particular organization in health systems strengthening. Join us, if you like!

Thomas Schwarz, Executive Secretary
Medicus Mundi International Network

NGO Code of Conduct for Health Systems Strengthening
MMI Thematic guide: Health systems strengthening: Starting points



MMI Network: News, Events and Resources

MMI Network Member
60 years of Doctors with Africa Cuamm

The Italian member of the Medicus Mundi International Network Doctors with Africa Cuamm celebrates its 60th Anniversary with a series of events in October and November 2010. The President of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano, will participate at the main ceremony on 11 November in Padua, when the title of Doctor Honoris Causa will be conferred by the University of Padua to the former Cuamm director Don Luigi Mazzucato and the organization will launch its new campaign on free access to maternal and newborn care. In addition, a photographic exhibition on African Hospitals in Africa will be inaugurated and a book collecting people and voices from the ground will be presented.

MMI Network Event
Kick-off event for the Network Strategy 2011-2015
Amsterdam, 5 November 2010

MMI Network meeting as a starting point for the implementation of our Network Strategy 2011-2015. The meeting hosted by our Dutch member Wemos will be a full day event (9 AM to 4 PM). Invitations were sent to MMI Network members and partners by e-mail, on 29 September 2010. If you are interested to join in, please get in touch with our secretariat.

MMI Network Event
Health Systems Research and NGOs:
building up mutually beneficial partnerships
Antwerp, 11 November 2010

Side event to the colloquium "Health Research towards Universal coverage” at the Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp.

MMI Network News: Wemos
Health, a shared responsibility

Wemos, 13 October 2010 | “At their annual regional committee meeting in Moscow, European member states adopted a World Health Organization (WHO) resolution. The heart of its message was that health is so essential that it should not be restricted to the domain of the Ministry of Health but also integrated into the policies of other ministries. Wemos endorses this message wholeheartedly! ”

MMI Network Resources: Cordaid
Home-based care and support in the context of AIDS:
Share relevant reseach - Building a online resource center together

cordaidpartners | ”On behalf of the Caregivers Action Network, and in preparation for the upcoming conference "HIV Care and Support: A Roadmap to Universal Access" being hosted by the UK Consortium on AIDS and International Development, Cordaid and the Huairou Commission are conducting a desk research initiative. The purpose is to compile all academic research that has been conducted on home-based Care and Support in the context of AIDS. Please send us any and all research papers on home-based care and support that you have conducted or are aware of. The deadline is November 2nd. Send all contributions to:”    

MMI Network Projects: Fatebenefratelli
Missions and International Cooperation News

Fatebenefratelli | The newsletter of the Missions and International Cooperation Office at the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God is available at the Order's website ("Missions and International Cooperation Office" page, bottom).

MMI Network Resources: Medicus Mundi Switzerland
Access to medicines for all

MMS | The issue no. 117 (September 2010) of the Bulletin of Medicus Mundi Switzerland is a collection of contributions in English, French and German on the challenge of improving access to medicines.


International Health Policy: MMI Updates

Since we started to use the real-time short messaging service "Twitter", we published there already some 570 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:

  • Health in foreign policy and development cooperation: public health is global health. WHO Europe resolution, 2010
  • Health services strengthening in Africa – research is a key component. Shabbar Jaffar et al. in: TM&IH
  • Health systems strengthening: classification and framework for investment analysis. Shakarishvili et al. in: heapol
  • The global plan to stop TB 2011-2015: Transforming the fight towards elimination of tuberculosis WHO Stop TB 2010
  • Gender, women and primary health care renewal. A discussion paper. Olukoya/Ravindran, WHO 2010
  • Making the case for interventions linking sexual and reproductive health and HIV in GFATM proposals. WHO 2010
  • Global experience of community health workers for delivery of health related MDGs. ZA Bhutta et al., GHWA 2010
  • Three myths about health worker retention (money - migration - motivation). Maurice I. Middleberg on: CapacityPlus blog
  • Equity and adequacy of international donor assistance for global malaria control. RW Snow et al. in: Lancet
  • Why Anthropology Matters for Global Health. D Sridhar: "Some of the best books on global health" on: globalhealthpolicy blog
  • Social sciences research: the ongoing neglect in the neglected tropical diseases. Pascale Allotey et al. in: HARPS
  • How much leeway do recipients of aid or funding have in deciding priorities? Laurie Garrett, global health at MIT
  • Vaccines at Crossroads. What can be done about the stagnant state of global vaccines? Global Health Magazine, 10.2010
  • African Union launches African Women's Decade project to improve health and development. KFF Global Health Report
  • Can an equity focus accelerate progress in child and maternal mortality? Stephen Morrison on smartglobalhealth blog
  • Seeking order out of global health chaos. Wayne Kondro in: CMAJ
  • A global social health protection fund – feasible or fanciful? Andrew Harmer on: globalhealthpolicy blog
  • National and global responsibilities for health. LO Gostin et al. in: WHO Bulletin
  • Financing the Millennium Development Goals for health and beyond. G Ooms et al. in: Globalization and Health
  • Reforming health care: why we need to learn from international experience. Dixon/Alakeson, The Nuffield Trust 2010
  • A fair chance at life: Why equity matters for child mortality. Alison Holder et al., Save The Children 2010
  • Targeting poverty and gender inequality to improve maternal health. S Paruzzolo et al., women deliver, ICRW 2010
  • After the fall - Time for a new deal. Social Watch Report 2010.
  • Measuring and improving health-system productivity. Peter C Smith in: Lancet (free registration required)
  • Private sector participation and health system performance in Sub-Saharan Africa. Joanne Yoong et al. in: PLoS ONE
  • Working to overcome the global impact of neglected tropical diseases: "First WHO report on neglected tropical diseases"
  • Bridging the gaps between research, policy and practice in low- and middle-income countries. GE Guindon et al. in: CMAJ
  • Medical Devices: Managing the Mismatch. Final report of WHO project "Priority medical devices" (WHO)
  • iHEA Congress 2011, call for papers: "The role of the private sector in health systems"
  • Accountability and aid in the health sector. Cases of Uganda and Zambia. Leni Wild/Pilar Domingo, ODI report, July 2010
  • Towards universal access: Scaling up priority HIV/AIDS interventions in the health sector. Progress report 2010 
  • Drug companies should be held more accountable for their Human Rights responsibilities. Editorial & debate in: PLoS Med
  • Growing older in Africa and Asia: Results of a multicentre study on ageing, health and well-being. GHA supplement
  • An upside-down view of governance. IDS 2010 "Change your mental models and stop viewing the world through an OECD lens"
  • An HIV vaccine is within sight but the field is threatened by funding cuts. IRIN Interview with Mitchell Warren, AVAC
  • What if available malaria tools actually reached people? B Brieger on efficacy and effectiveness. Malaria Matters blog
  • Combating poverty and inequality: Structural change, social policy and politics. Yusuf Bangura et al. UNRISD 2010
  • Is globalization healthy: a statistical indicator analysis of the impacts of globalization on health. P Marten et al. in: G&H
  • Aid and accountability in health: key themes and recommendations. L Wild / P Domingo, ODI Project Briefings 44, 2010
  • "By 2015, every person worldwide will have access to an informed healthcare provider." Goal of HIFA2010 campaign
  • Abuja Declaration on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Other Related Infectious Diseases, 2000
  • A dumb way to measure Africa’s health. Tom Paulson on the Abuja Declaration (2000). On: humanosphere blog
  • Linking the Millennium Development Goals with Human Resources for Health. Wilma Gormley on: CapacityPlus blog
  • Millennium development goals in an age of fear and loathing. Jeffrey Sachs in: Guardian
  • Moving beyond MDG Silos. Devi Sridhar on: blog
  • Outcome document of the UN MDG Summit
  • UN Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health launched at Millennium Summit
  • Exploring health workforce inequalities. Case studies from three countries. N Gupta (Ed.). WHO HRH Observer 4/2010
  • Doubling the number of health graduates in Zambia: estimating feasibility and costs. Aaron Tjoa et al. in: HRH
  • The fantastic proposal for a mega-global health fund. Tom Paulson on: humanosphere blog
  • Norway: where a consistent policy on healthworkers is possible. Liliana Marcos on: AFGH blog
  • Would aid flourish without religion? The debate is lacking facts. Ian Linden in: Guardian
  • Health Workers urgently needed to reach health MDGs. AFGH briefing paper
  • The MDGs should be replaced with something better. Rhona MacDonald on: PLoS Speaking of Medicine blog
  • MDG 6: Six things you need to know about the AIDS response today. UNAIDS report 2010
  • WHO: Accelerating progress towards the health-related MDGs: Critical role of the national health policy & strategy.
  • The MDG decade: looking back and conditional optimism. J Sachs: "The key limiting factor is external aid." In: Lancet
  • UN MDG summit
  • The Global Partnership for development at a critical juncture. UN MDG report 2010
  • Lancet special issue on the MDGs
  • Equity as a shared vision for health and development. Lancet editorial related to UN MDG summit
  • Financing Public Health in Africa. Campaigners welcome new commitment by Afr. Union member states. S Anyangu-Amu, IPS
  • Mental health and development: targeting people with mental health conditions as a vulnerable group. WHO report 2010
  • Disability and international cooperation and development: A review of policies and practices. Lord et al., WB 2010
  • Who’s really fighting hunger? MDG Countdown: scorecard report on global hunger. ActionAid 2010
  • Trends in maternal mortality: 1990 to 2008. Estimates developed by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA and The World Bank
  • Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health: Background information
  • Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health launched at the UN MDG summit
  • Millennium Development Goals: a cross-sectoral analysis and principles for goal setting after 2015. J Waage et al. in: Lancet
  • It's time to get tough on aid. NGOs are giving governments an easy ride on global poverty. L Elliott in: Guardian blog
  • Examining the “Urban Advantage” in Maternal Health Care in Developing Countries. Z Matthews et al. in: PLoS Medicine
  • Health-care dynamics in Haiti: The influx of foreign doctors had several unintended consequences. P Adams in: Lancet
  • A fair chance at life: Why equity matters for child mortality. A Holder et al., Save the Children 2010
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