Sharing knowhow and joining forces towards Health for All

MMI Network News, March 2011

photo: WHO
photo: WHO

Editorial: WHO reform


Dear reader,

Before and during the WHO Executive Board meeting in January, the reform of the World Health Organization has become a major issue. It now looks as if the WHO Director General Margaret Chan, after having submitted to the EB a report on the future of financing for WHO (1), gives highest priority to this issue. In her concluding remarks (2), she stated that she will submit to the WHA, in May 2011, a reform program with the following three elements:

  • A plan for strengthening WHO’s central role in global health governance, comprising a proposal to hold a regular multi-stakeholder forum and a proposed process for addressing other aspects of global health governance, possibly also including an overall framework for engagement in global health
  • A clear articulation of WHO’s unique role and functions, supported by a framework for systematic and objective priority-setting in WHO, with a financing model that ensures the core functions are adequately funded
  • A detailed plan for managerial reforms in WHO

This statement still leaves many questions open: Is the announced regular multi-stakeholder forum the same as the “Committee C of the World Health Assembly” proposed some years ago (3)? Does the possible overall framework for engagement in global health correspond with the idea of a “framework convention on global health” (4)? We do not know yet, but expectations raised by these announcements are high, and the debate on the WHO's role in global health governance is definitely launched.

The WHO DG concluded: “I will present these plans to the Sixty-fourth World Health Assembly in May 2011, following an extensive process of consultation with Member States, staff and other partners. The paper for the Health Assembly will be available by mid April.”
As an NGO in official relation with WHO the Medicus Mundi International Network counts on being invited to this consultation. And to be there – and to play an active role – is a must for us. 

Thomas Schwarz, Executive Secretary
Medicus Mundi International Network



Our own reference

“The MMI Network will focus joint advocacy on the World Health Organization WHO. The Network is in official relations with the WHO. We will continue to participate and intervene in the World Health Assembly and other global and regional WHO (and WHO lead) structures, programs, events and consultations. We will establish coalitions and joint programs with other civil society organisations or networks pursuing the same tasks. At the same time, we will contribute to monitor the development of the World Health Organization and to strengthen the WHO as the international coordinating body for issues related to people's health.” (MMI Network Strategy 2011-15)


Network news, events and resources

MMI Network Event
Medicus Mundi International: Board meeting
Basel, 4 March 2011

The first Board meeting of the Medicus Mundi International Network in 2011 will focus on the implementation of the Network Strategy 2011-15 adopted last year. Inputs will be provided on the following issues: networking and advocacy in the field of Human Resources for Health; health systems research and NGOs; getting involved in the global health governance debate; institutional development of the Network. The Board will also discuss the financial accounts 2010 and plan the further Network meetings in 2011.


MMI Network Event: Swiss TPH
Improving access through effective health financing
Swiss TPH spring symposium, Basel, 5 April 2011

“Invited speakers and experts from international organizations, partner countries and the Swiss TPH will present experiences and discuss options and strategies for improving access to health services through effective health financing. Special attention will be given to the challenges encountered in building up social protection mechanisms.” | The Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute is a member of Medicus Mundi Switzerland.


MMI Network event: Medicus Mundi Switzerland
Linking HIV and reproductive and sexual health and rights
aidsfocus conference, Bern, 7 April 2011 

“A young girl might want to prevent a pregnancy and protect herself from HIV. A woman living with HIV might be pregnant and at risk of dying during childbirth, she may have HIV and can't get contraception, and her child may die of HIV or malaria. Where does she get the necessary information on contraception and the prevention of sexually-transmitted infection, counselling, testing and treatment? - Based on the experience of the partner organisations of, and following up on discussions held at a global level, we will discuss challenges and strategies of linking HIV and reproductive health and rights in policy and practice.”

MMI Network: Meeting report
Second Global Forum on Human Resources for Health
Bangkok, 25-29 January, 2011

At the second global forum on human resources for health the Global Health Workforce Alliance (GHWA) presented its progress report on the Kampala Declaration and action for global action. The Medicus Mundi International Network (MMI) is a member of GHWA. MMI representatives Anke Tijtsma and Remco van de Pas (Wemos), Samuel Mwenda (ACHAP) and Johan van Rixtel (Cordaid) were present at the forum.

Report and related documents:
MMI guide: Human Resources for health

MMI Network members: EPN
Ecumenical Pharmaceutical Network: Annual Report 2010

”We are reflecting on the previous 12 months – where have they gone, all the very busy days? Again we are asking ourselves – did we move anything? This question can be answered by everybody individually. In respect of EPN I would like to say YES, we are grateful to look back at a successful 2010. A new spirit of EPN could be seen during the EPN Forum and General meeting 2010 held in Nairobi. These days were full of informing and sharing, everybody got the feeling that EPN issues and projects, as well as the strategic plan, are owned by its members.” (Albert Petersen, EPN Board Chairman)

EPN website:
Download the annual report (PDF):

MMI Network members: Fatebenefratelli
“What we do is the Church in action”

The Hospitaller Order of St. John of God (Fatebenefratelli) is present in 53 countries. It provides different services together with the Health and Welfare Ministries and other civil organisations as well as local authorities. The Superior General of the Order, Brother Donatus Forkan, talked with the Bulletin of Medicus Mundi Switzerland about the way they are working.

Fatebenefratelli website:
Bulletin of Medicus Mundi Switzerland:

MMI Network resources
Thematic guide: International migration and recruitment of health personnel

Our thematic guide to internet resources related to international migration and recruitment of health personnel leads you beyond the limits of the Medicus Mundi International Network. Contents of the guide: (1) WHO Code of Practice (2) Reports and factsheets: country and regional level (3) Key resources (4) Thematic leaders. Any important resources missing? Please let us know.

MMI guide:


In memoriam Piet Sleijffers

In memoriam Piet Sleijffers

Only recently we were informed that the ex-secretary of Medicus Mundi International Piet Sleijffers passed away last year. Piet Sleijffers started his work for Medicus Mundi in 1966 under the inspiring supervision of Professor Oomen, one of the founders of the International Network. Piet Sleijffers organized the acquisition and posting of medical officers in developing countries, the main activity of the international Medicus Mundi Network in that time when newly independent countries in Sub-Saharan Africa made an urgent appeal for public health oriented tropical doctors. Piet Sleijffers endeavoured to improve international health cooperation. He represented Medicus Mundi at the WHO and became a well known person in the WHO offices in Geneva. This resulted in the establishment of "official relations" of MMI with WHO in 1974.

Please read the obituary written by the former MMI president Sake Rypkema.


Global health policy: MMI updates

Since we started to use the real-time short messaging service "Twitter", we published there already more than 850 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:

  • Tracking and monitoring the health workforce: a new human resources information system in Uganda. Spero et al. in: HRH
  • To make a difference, transparency has to be citizen-centred. Lessons from 3 years working on transparency. Owen Barder 
  • Brazil’s Ascendance: The soft power role of global health diplomacy. K Lee and EJ. Gómez in: European Business Review
  • Implementation research: close the gap between what we know and what is being done. DD. Nicholas in: Global Health Magazine
  • Impact evaluation in practice. Paul J. Gertler, et al., World Bank Training Series (2010)
  • The future of aid. Lecture of DFID permanent secretary Nemat Minouche Shafik (before she left DFID to join the IMF...)
  • The global health worker shortage needs to be addressed. Sarah Boseley on: Poverty matters
  • Human Resources for Health in South-East Asia: shortages, distributional challenges, international trade in health services. Kanchanachitr et al. in: The Lancet
  • The news that wasn’t fit to print: Today 1,500 women died due to pregnancy or childbirth related causes. D Barry on: MethodLogical
  • Does income inequality really impact health negatively? The Evidence. Jason Kerwin on: MethodLogical
  • Joint open letter calling Novartis to cease seemingly endless legal process in India (Berne Declaration)
  • Webinar: Health and care in pregnancy and beyond - putting women centre stage. 8 March 2011 (WHO / University of York)
  • World Health Day – 7 April 2011: Antimicrobial resistance: no action today, no cure tomorrow
  • Overcoming gaps to advance global health equity: a symposium on new directions for research. J Frenk & L Chen in: HARPS
  • Better spending needed for neglected diseases. Editorial in: The Lancet
  • Western countries begin to gear their development policies towards a changing global society. E Lammers on: The Broker
  • The critical role of the “first mile” in development. David Week on: Architecture for Development
  • Health care for urban poor falls through the gap. Priya Shetty in: The Lancet
  • Better access to generic medicines. Opening remarks by WHO DG M Chan at WHO/WIPO/WTO symposium on access to medicines
  • Whither global health? Bonnie Koenig discusses global health trends, on: Engaging Internationally
  • NGOs and disaster relief: Feel good, do bad? Anjali Dotson on: Global Health Hub
  • Event: Medicine, psychology, liberation in Latin America and the Western hemisphere. Turin, Italy, 5 March 2011 (DGH)
  • Taking the temperature: The future of global health journalism. Nellie Bristol and John Donnelly, KFF 2011
  • Ethics and quality of drug testing in low income countries subject to additional pressure through outsourcing. SOMO 2011
  • Most people don’t need to be convinced that development is desirable; they need to be convinced that aid works. Owen Barder
  • Social capital and health - implications for health promotion. Malin Eriksson in: GHE
  • Top UN officials call for abolishing female genital mutilation. Media release by: UN News Centre
  • Vatican to host one-day international HIV/AIDS conference in May. Report on KFF
  • Negotiations on the Global Strategy on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property. G Velásquez, South Centre (2011)
  • Noncommunicable diseases in the 2011 global public health agenda. Thirukumaran Balasubramaniam on: kei blog
  • Progress patchy on health-worker crisis. Patralekha Chatterjee in: The Lancet
  • 2011: A perfect storm for global health. Seven key forces are converging this year. Tim France on: inis communication
  • Health aid not targeting countries that need it most. Thin Lei Win on: alertnet
  • Rethinking health-care systems: a focus on chronicity. Pascale Allotey et al. in: The Lancet
  • What brought us here won’t get us there: Implementing country-level health workforce development plans. V. Oketcho, Capacity Plus
  • Eye on the ball. Medicine regulation – not IP enforcement – can best deliver quality medicines. Oxfam 2011
  • Performance-based financing: donor fad or catalyst towards health-care reform? Bruno Meessen et al. in: WHO Bulletin
  • Efficiency and effectiveness of aid flows towards health workforce development. MR Dal Poza et al. in: WHO HRH Observer
  • Social insecurity. The financialisation of healthcare and pensions in developing countries. Bretton Woods Project 2010
  • Integration of HIV and sexual and reproductive health and rights. A guide
  • WHO Safe Childbirth Checklist: help frontline health workers prevent avoidable childbirth-related mortality & morbidity
  • Can improving health-care safety help us achieve the MDGs? Liam Donaldson, editorial in: WHO Patient Safety newsletter
  • Is there a non-lazy use for the term “in the field?” asks Alanna Shaikh on her Blood and Milk blog
  • It doesn’t count if you can’t count it: Measuring successes in the health workforce. Katia Peterson on: IntraHealth
  • Success in addressing health workforce issues: 36 case stories submitted for WHO/GHWA awards for excellence
  • Imagine... Follow 'Flo', a skilled health worker who leaves her home in search of a better life.
  • Commitment and action to boost health workforce. Mubashar Sheikh in: The Lancet
  • European academic institutions for global health. Andy Haines et al. in: The Lancet
  • Results based aid and results based financing: what are they? have they delivered results? Mark Pearson on: HLSP
  • A research agenda to underpin malaria eradication. Pedro L. Alonso et al. in: PLoS Medicine
  • WHO/PLoS collection: No health without research: A call for papers
  • Addressing the global health workforce crisis: challenges for France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. AfGH 2011 (pdf)
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