Sharing knowhow and joining forces towards Health for All

MMI Network News, August 2012

MMI Network News, August 2012

Editorial: Health beyond 2015

Dear reader,

The Millennium Development Goals, despite any weaknesses, remain a powerful tool for focusing the world’s attention on development issues. While intended as one means of monitoring progress, the way goals are defined inevitably influences how the world understands development and the ways in which it can be advanced. Goals are thus interventions in their own right, shaping the meaning of development and influencing resource transfers within and between nations and institutions.

The current set of MDGs was intended as a form of simplified shorthand linking different aspects of development. The analysis of the broadening health agenda points to a much wider nexus of relationships: with macroeconomic stability, decent work, food security, inequality, governance, gender, human rights, demographic transition, urbanization, migration peace and security, natural disasters, science and technology, among many, many other factors. 

Political and economic transitions combined with the universality of development challenges requires that the post-2015 agenda must be relevant to all societies. Poverty, financial insecurity, urbanization, ageing, climate change, ill health and food security are not problems of developing countries to be addressed by resource or technological transfers, they are problems requiring global solutions.

For health to retain its rightful place at the apex of development, there is a need for a single high-level goal. In this way, improved health becomes one of a small set of summative indicators that track progress across economic, social and environmental domains. An equity dimension needs to be an integral part of such an indicator. Below this over-arching health goal a hierarchy of more sector and programme specific goals, targets and indicators can reflect existing agreements (including the current MDGs) and elements of the new health agenda.

The challenge is how to frame an overarching health goal and target in a way that drives change that is relevant for all countries; that acknowledges health as a global concern (and thus as something for which countries have collective as well as individual responsibilities); that appeals to politicians and the public; and is actually measurable. No easy task.

This is good food for thought, isn’t it? It should be, anyhow, as I just copied and pasted some key statements out of a “thematic think piece” on “health in the post-2015 UN development agenda” recently published by a UN task team (1).

Right now the UN is putting in place a series of thematic consultations on the post-2015 development agenda. Health is one of the 9 topics covered. The civil society campaign Beyond 2015 appointed the Medicus Mundi International Network to coordinate campaign input in the health consultation (2). We hope that details of the consultation process led by WHO and UNICEF in collaboration with UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNDP and OHCHR, will be available soon.

If we agree that it makes sense to develop a next generation of development goals (3), going for “an overarching health goal and target” as suggested by the UN team is not an easy task, given the existing fragmentation of the global health advocacy community: The HIV/AIDS people, the Mother and Child Health people, the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights people, the Noncommunicable Diseases people, the Human Resources for Health people etc., all act as independent thematic lobbies on the global “market for attention” – and all of them will try to keep/get their “piece of the cheese” (4) of the (post) MDGs. 

Let us see if the dialogue on the post-2015 health agenda will help us to overcome and not further increase this fragmentation.

Thomas Schwarz, Executive Secretary
Medicus Mundi International Network


  3. “As simple as possible, but not simpler”, Thomas Schwarz 2011
  4. Chasing the MDG cheese, Andrew Harmer 2012
  5. MMI thematic guide: Health in the post-2015 UN development agenda


MMI Network: News, events and resources


Network Event: MMI, Cordaid and other partners
Health systems strengthening and conflict transformation in fragile states
Amsterdam, 10-11 October 2012

After our inspiring event in Brescia, last year, the Medicus Mundi International Network appreciates very much the kind invitation by Cordaid to hold its 2012 Network meeting in Amsterdam. The related conference on "Health systems strengthening and conflict transformation in fragile states" directly links with the thematic focus of the Medicus Mundi International Network. Please save the dates!

Network Event: Medicus Mundi Switzerland
Mother and child health
Basel, 6 November 2012

This year's Swiss Health Cooperation Symposium organized by the Network Medicus Mundi Switzerland will focus on mother and child health. Announcements are available in German and French only.

Network conference documentation: MMI with members and partners
In the public interest? The role of NGOs in national health systems
and global health policy. Workshop at the People's Health Assembly
Cape Town, July 2012

A group of NGOs and international NGO networks contributed to the People’s Health Assembly with a critical reflection on the role and the future of private not for profit health service providers and international NGOs: What does it need to make NGOs part of the solution and not the problem? We linked the discussion on the integration of NGOs in national health systems with debates on the role of NGOs in global health governance and civil society.

NGOs and social movements for health - this is not an easy relationship. Two tribes, two cultures, two languages and quite a bit of bad experiences, prejudice, mistrust and misunderstanding.  So it was indeed good and helpful to come together. The two well attended workshops at the People's Health Assembly lead to some intensive debates which made it clear that the dialogue between representatives of NGOs and social movements - even if both share the goal of health for all - needs to be continued and deepened. We did a start - and are looking forward to more.


Network campaign/advocacy: Medicus Mundi International
Reaffirm commitment to the well-being of all children
and to their right to survival and development

The Medicus Mundi International Network recently signed the civil society pledge "A Promise Renewed": "With less than three years left until the deadline for reaching the Millennium Development Goals, too many countries still lag far behind their targets for reducing newborn, child, and maternal deaths. To accelerate progress, we must intensify our efforts and sharpen our approaches. Therefore, we, the undersigned representatives of civil society, reaffirm our commitment to the well-being of all children, and to their right to survival and development."


Network news: Cordaid
2012 Cordaid HIV and AIDS award: Locally resourced sustainable care
and support initiatives for children living with or affected by HIV

The Catholic Organisation for Relief and Development Aid (Cordaid) has awarded organisations and individuals for outstanding work carried out in the field of HIV and AIDS over the past four years. This year, Cordaid will award an organisation that shows outstanding commitment and leadership in making use of local resources to implement sustainable care and support initiatives for children living with or affected by HIV. A nomination form as well as rules and procedures in English and French can be found at the Cordaid website. Deadline for submissions is Sunday, September 16, 2012.


Network news: DWA Cuamm
Ethiopia: Contracting between the Catholic Church and the Ministry of Health

The collaboration of Doctors with Africa CUAMM with the Saint Luke’s Hospital in Wolisso, Ethiopia, goes back to the year 1993. The local partner is the Ethiopian Episcopal Conference working in partnership with the Oromia Health Bureau responsible for the health system in that region. Saint Luke Hospital is one of Ethiopia’s most important private not for profit hospitals serving with its 200 beds as a referral centre for a region of more than one million inhabitants. Attached to it there is also a nursing and midwifery training college.

A recent visit to this hospital by the Ethiopian health minister gave CUAMM the opportunity to promote a decisive dialogue between the Ethiopian Episcopal Conference and the Ethiopian Ministry of Health which finally resulted in a contractual agreement defining officially the partnership in health matters between these two institutions. This agreement is similar to the contracts promoted by the MMI Network during several working conferences with African Bishops Conferences (Tanzania, Uganda, Benin, Central African Republic etc.). The contract, signed on 3 August 2012, represents a really important achievement, as for its content as well as for the action within the Catholic Secretariat towards the Ministry of Health.

Source: Communications by Don Dante Carraro, DWA Cuamm director, and Edgar Widmer, Medicus Mundi Switzerland


Network news: Medicus Mundi International
MMI Network joined PMNCH

At the MMI Network meeting in Brescia, Stefan Germann, representative of the NGO constituency in the Board of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH), very much encouraged the Network and its members to join the Partnership (see his presentation "Advocacy for maternal, newborn and child health: the role and agenda of civil society", pdf). Based on a report by the secretariat, the MMI Board agreed to follow this advice. In July, the MMI application for membership was accepted by the PMNCH secretariat.


Network projects: HealthNet TPO
Mirco insurance in Cambodia

"Since 2007 Achmea (a large Dutch insurance company), local partner RACHA and HealthNet TPO work together on a micro insurance project in Cambodia. By combining the fields of expertise of these organizations, we are working on improved access to quality care, also for the poorest people. But how does that work in practice? An overview of this programme, including recent videos and blogs." (HealthNet TPO news and website)


Network marketplace: Medicus Mundi Navarra
Looking for a group of young people to do an exchange with the solidarity groups in Navarra, Spain

“Medicus Mundi Navarra, a member of the Federation of Medicus Mundi Spain, has been organising what we’ve called “Solidarity Groups” for two years. The aim of these groups, made up of young people aged 14-16, is to work on different aspects of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in the field of informal education: fair trade, responsible consumption, the right to education, analysis of the social reality of our surroundings….The groups, made up of 10-15 young people, meet up once a week at their schools, outside of school hours, and occasionally go on trips at weekends or to camps for 4-5 days during the summer.

During the year 2012/2013 we‘re planning to carrying out some sort of exchange with another group of young people in another European Union country who are working on similar issues. We want to take advantage of the Medicus Mundi International Network to contact any organisation that works with young people of similar ages and that might be interested in our proposal.”


Network reporting: various MMI members
Annual reports 2011

The following Network members recently published their annual reports:

  • The annual report of Doctors with Africa Cuamm is available in English and Italian.
  • The annual report of Medicus Mundi Spain is available in Spanish.
  • The annual report of Memisa is available in French and Dutch.
  • The annual report of Wemos is available in Dutch.
  • The annual report of action medeor is available here in German, English, Spanish and French.
More annual reports of Network members: collection



International Health Policy: MMI Updates

Bits and pieces of news on international health policy: each “MMI update” is 140 characters or less - these are the rules of the game on twitter. Just enough for a headline, eventually an author, a date, the source – and a link to the website where you find the full information. Have a look at some of our “tweets” published during the last month. As usual, it’s a bit much, so take it or leave it.

Health systems strengthening
Health services, health financing
Universal health coverage

MMI thematic guides:
Health systems strengthening:
Universal health coverage: 


Human resources for health

MMI thematic guides:
Human Resources for health:
International migration:


Global health governance and policy
Beyond 2015, MDGs and SDGs

MMI thematic guides:
Global Health Governance
Health Beyond 2015 


NGO debate

MMI thematic guide:
NGO debate:


Other topics


Recent events

XIX International AIDS conference
Washington DC, 22-27 July 2012


3rd People’s Health Assembly
Cape Town, 6-11 July 2012


Family Planning Summit
London, 11 July 2012


Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development
Rio de Janeiro, 20-22 June 2012


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