Sharing knowhow and joining forces towards Health for All

MMI Network News, January 2014

Design: WHO Action Plan
Design: WHO Action Plan

Editorial: Who's afraid of NCDs?

Dear reader,

At last week's Executive Board (EB) meeting of the WHO, the agenda items on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) passed at amazing speed. Possibly, WHO member states are saving their substantive inputs for an upcoming formal member state meeting in April. At a closed meeting last November, member states discussed the draft terms of reference for a Global Coordinating Mechanism, an Inter Agency Taskforce and a set of indicators on the prevention and control of NCDs. Rumour has it that these meetings are closed to non-state actors to avoid industry lobbying.

It is well established by now that the incidence of NCDs is increasing rapidly, and that it is no longer only the high-income countries that are being affected. Worldwide, a larger number of people is overweight than undernourished, and low- and middle income countries are facing the so-called double burden of malnutrition. According to the recent ODI report Future diets, “1.46 billion people are obese or overweight and between 1980 and 2008, the numbers of people affected in the developing world more than tripled, from 250 million to 904 million”. Malnutrition has a big influence on our risk of contracting a number of NCDs. And big interests are involved in influencing what we eat.

Several WHO member states expressed their concerns during the EB about the difficulty to effectively deal with food and beverage manufacturers that are seeking to expand their markets and employing sweeping marketing strategies to change our eating and drinking habits. These concerns are legitimate, because countries' policy space to protect public health is under threat. There is growing evidence that regulation and tax measures are essential to discourage unhealthy eating patterns and promote a healthy lifestyle.

But these types of policy measures are becoming harder to implement, due to investor state dispute settlement provisions that may be included in trade agreements currently under negotiation, such as the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement and presumably also the proposed Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Such provisions are already part of certain bilateral investment treaties and are being used by transnational corporations to halt effective regulatory action in relation to NCDs.

At the EB meeting, Medicus Mundi International and the People's Health Movement called upon WHO member states to adapt the terms of reference for the United Nations Inter Agency Task Force and include provision of guidance on trade and investment rules. We believe this is a necessary measure to protect public health regulatory policy space for the prevention and control of NCDs.

Awareness on NCDs is growing, but there is strong resistance against regulating the marketing and supply of unhealthy food and beverages, coming from corporations and several governments concerned about protecting their export markets. Wemos will be following decision-making on the NCD frameworks and advocate for measures to protect public health interests.  

Mariska Meurs, Wemos
mariska.meurs@wemos.nl 

 

MMI Network: News, events and resources

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Network event: medico international
Beyond Aid: From Charity to Solidarity
Berlin, 20-22 February 2014

The critique of aid is complex. Some would like to totally replace aid by self responsibility, others charge that aid can only mitigate misery and is thus stabilizing inequality. Precisely because so different actors such as the World Bank, think tanks with government links, NGOs and independent grassroots organizations are coming together under “Beyond Aid”, we would like to strengthen our understanding of it: as the focal point for cooperation in solidarity which goes beyond aid and tackles the structural causes of need. The second Frankfurt Conference on Aid will discuss ideas and ways of international cooperation that aim at sustainable change.

http://www.medico.de/themen/aktion/dokumente/beyond-aid/4553/

 

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Network event: Medicus Mundi Switzerland
Is "Value for Money" the best Approach for Improving Weak Health Systems?
Basel, 9 April 2014

The aid community now systematically refers to the “Value for Money” (VfM) concept in relation to health programmes. Still, the concept has varying meaning among individuals and agencies. It spans benchmarking the costs of certain products, to focusing exclusively on high level impact indicators. Applying universal standards in very different contexts can be counterproductive, force missed opportunities, and devalue the need for “patient capital” and long-term capacity development. Consider the situation of countries with weak health systems - where health conditions are dire, and resources are limited. Is VfM the mantra that leads to the most prudent allocation of investments? Spring Symposium of the Swiss TPH, a member of the Network Medicus Mundi Switzerland.

http://www.swisstph.ch/spring_symposium_2014.html

 

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Network event: Medicus Mundi Switzerland
Global Health - Interconnected Challenges, Integrated Solutions
Geneva, 15-17 April 2014

"During recent decades significant progress has been made to focus policy attention and channel new financial resources towards global health issues. Despite this, the challenges facing our global community are becoming increasingly complex and inter-connected." The Geneva Health Forum is organized by the Division of International and Humanitarian Medicine at the Hospitals of the University of Geneva, a member of Medicus Mundi Switzerland

http://ghf.globalhealthforum.net/

 

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Network paper: Cordaid
Focus on fragility

“In 2015, the agenda for the UN’s Millennium Development Goals will be renewed. New plans are currently being made. At Cordaid, we are convinced that addressing fragility remains a key priority for the post-2015 agenda. We do this through our commitment to building flourishing communities in fragile states and conflict areas. Without this focus, we risk undermining development in many countries and reversing the gains that have been made over the past decades. Read about our focus on fragility in the leaflet Focus on fragility (4 pages) and the policy paper Gender inequality and fragility in the post-MDG framework (21 pages).”

http://www.cordaid.org/en/post-2015-focus-fragility/

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Network paper: Wemos
Democratizing the World Health Organization

“A progressive erosion of the democratic space appears as one of the emerging challenges in global health today. Such delimitation of the political interplay has a particularly evident impact on the unique public interest function of the World Health Organization (WHO). This paper aims to identify some obstacles for a truly democratic functioning of the UN specialized agency for health. The development of civil society's engagement with the WHO, including in the current reform proposals, is described. The paper also analyses how today's financing of the WHO – primarily through multi-bi financing mechanisms – risks to choke the agency's role in global health. Democratizing the public debate on global health, and therefore the role of the WHO, requires a debate on its future role and engagement at the country level. This desirable process can only be linked to national debates on public health, and the re-definition of health as a primary political and societal concern.” Article by Remco van de Pas, Wemos, and L.G. van Schalk, in: Public Health, February 2014

http://www.publichealthjrnl.com/article/S0033-3506%2813%2900293-X/abstract

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Network paper: medico international
Systemic failure

When national health-care systems fail, the effects can be global: epidemics spread across borders, with serious diseases breaking out again and again. Accordingly, health is a global public good – and providing good health care is an international responsibility. An article by Andreas Wulf, medico international, in: D+C, December 2013.

http://www.dandc.eu/en/article/health-global-public-good-and-must-figure-among-post-2015-development-goals

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Network news: Cordaid
Openness in development aid reaches new level

The Dutch member of the MMI Network Cordaid has put all her project data online and brought openness in development aid to a new level: "Worldwide, 213 organizations and governments publish their data according to the IATI standard. None of them do this as thoroughly and completely as Cordaid. For security or privacy reasons a small number of the more than 700 Cordaid projects are not published. Cordaid didn´t decide to publish all project data in reaction to questions from the public about spending on development aid. All project data has been online for the past year, including budgets, targets and results. Cordaid chose to publish the IATI dataset to make co-creation possible. Everybody can read where we work and how we work and help us to make the world a bit better. Simone Filippini, Cordaid’s CEO, says: ‘Fighting poverty starts with sharing. This is why we share our information.”.

http://www.cordaid.org/en/news/openness-development-aid-reaches-new-level/

 

International health and global health policy: MMI updates

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Universal health coverage
Health systems strengthening
Health services, health financing

MMI thematic guides:
www.bit.ly/mmi-hss 
www.bit.ly/mmi-uhc

See also below:
Health beyond 2015

Twitter: #UHC

 

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Health policy and systems research

MMI thematic guide:
www.bit.ly/mmi-research
  

 

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Human resources for health
Migration of health professionals

MMI thematic guides:
www.bit.ly/mmi_hrh

www.bit.ly/mmimigrationguide

Twitter: #HRH, #healthworkers #healthworkerscount, #3GFHRH

 

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Access to medicines and vaccination
Medical research and development

 

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Women’s and children’s health
Sexual and reproductive rights and health

MMI thematic guide:
www.bit.ly/mmi-mch


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Prevention and control of NCSs
Disabilities, Mental Health

 

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Equity and human right to health
Social, political and econmic determinants of health
Poverty and social protection

MMI thematic guide:
www.bit.ly/mmi_sdh

Twitter: #SDH, #HIAP

 

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Global health governance and policy

MMI thematic guide:
www.bit.ly/ghgovernance

Twitter: #globalhealth #healthgovernance

 

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World Health Organization
WHO reform and financing

MMI thematic guide:
www.bit.ly/whoreformguide

 

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Health beyond 2015
MDGs and SDGs
Global Health 2035

MMI thematic guide:
www.bit.ly/mmi-beyond2015guide

Twitter: #health2015 #post2015 #globalhealth

 

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Development, aid and international institutions

MMI thematic guide:
www.bit.ly/mmi-ngoguide

 

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Global reports
Various topics

 

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