Sharing knowhow and joining forces towards Health for All

MMI Network News, November 2014

Image: ICN2 website
Image: ICN2 website

A united civil society before a divided global nutrition landscape (Editorial)

Dear reader

Last week the second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) took place in Rome, organised jointly by WHO and FAO, and preceded by a two-day civil society meeting. Let me start with two positive notes about this global gathering of representatives from governments, UN agencies, civil society organisations and social movements, philanthropic organisations and private enterprises. Firstly, WHO and FAO working together to prepare the ICN2, strongly confirms the notion that food, nutrition and good health cannot be seen separately. And secondly, all along the bumpy road towards the ICN2 and fighting for getting our voices heard, a large number of social movements and NGOs have worked together and form a strong group that will continue working together for the right to adequate food and nutrition.  

Looking at the context in which the ICN2 took place, however, it becomes difficult to stay positive. It has been 22 years since the first international conference on nutrition took place and the landscape looks bleak to me. Yes, undernutrition has decreased, but still – and I quote the strong Civil Society statement here –, “it is unacceptable that in a world of plenty more than 800 million of our brothers and sisters go to bed hungry every night and over half a billion are obese. More than 150 million children suffer from stunting, over 50 million children are wasted, more than 40 million children are obese, and approximately 800,000 babies die every year because they are not optimally breastfed. The injustice of malnutrition has meant that several thousand of our children have died since this discussion started. These problems should have been tackled a long time ago.”

Indeed, these problems should have been tackled a long time ago, because there is plenty of food and resources worldwide. Addressing malnutrition is not in the first place a technical challenge but first and foremost a political one.

More than 20 years after the first ICN, the food and nutrition landscape has changed a lot. To name some of the major changes: globalization and the interconnectedness between countries and sectors have large influence on the food we eat, the number of actors involved in food and nutrition has increased and power relations have shifted, and multiple burdens of malnutrition are affecting health worldwide: apart from undernutrition and micro-nutrient deficiencies, low- and middle-income countries are now also facing the consequences of unhealthy diets, containing too many calories, too much salt, sugar and fat. 

What we eat – what is available and affordable in stores and what we can cultivate on the land is to a large extent shaped by forces that are outside our direct sphere of influence. With trade liberalization and continued deregulation, market forces and commercial interests are defining our food environment. But who is looking after our health? As the Director General of the WHO, Dr Margaret Chan, put it last week: When “municipal authorities in large cities in Africa and Asia find it cheaper to import processed foods from abroad than to gather fresh produce from the hinterlands […] something is wrong”.

At the global level, there are many challenges ahead. In Rome, member states have adopted the Rome Declaration on Nutrition and the Framework for Action. As civil society organisations, we are disappointed by the weak language of the declaration and the lack of binding commitments made – the framework for action is no more than a long shopping list of possible measures that countries can choose from. No political stance is taken, no priorities set. The statements made by member states demonstrate the divide, between those who continue to believe in technological solutions and choose not to address power imbalances, and those who believe in empowering local communities, small-scale food producers and consumers, to change their own situation and be able to nourish themselves.

We need to think hard about the way in which our food is produced, processed, distributed and marketed these days, and how we can make it work better for health, everywhere. How we can gain back and protect food sovereignty. Change has to take place in many places and at many levels. And since we all eat, we are all agents of change. Consumers and small-scale producers do have influence . It may be small but we can use it and make it bigger. While the UN Secretary General is going to propose the UN General Assembly to declare a Decade on Nutrition, civil society is not going to sit back and wait but already declared the People’s Decade of Action on Nutrition.

For a strong follow-up at the international level, the civil society statement asks for continued and improved cooperation and coordination between UN agencies. The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) can play an important role in this regards, provided that it fulfils its mandate by fully including nutrition in its work programme and includes the WHO in its secretariat and advisory group. In decision-making on the post-2015 sustainable development goals and other international policy processes, civil society will be vigilant and continue to advocate for democracy, respect for and protection of human rights, participation, and the inclusion of ambitious food and nutrition goals, supported by robust indicators and accountability.

As for Wemos, spending a week with so many other civil society organisations and social movements has been a source of inspiration, information and new relations. In our continued advocacy for democratic and rights-based global governance for health and for protecting the right to health and nutrition in trade and investment treaties, we will continue to strengthen these ties. 

Mariska Meurs, Wemos
Senior Global Health Advocate
mariska.meurs@wemos.nl

 

MMI Network: News, events, resources

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Network news: MMI – Network Health for All
MMI joins the WHO Global Coordination Mechanism on the prevention and control of NCDs (GCM/NCD)

Terms of reference for the establishment of a WHO Global Coordination Mechanism on noncommunicable diseases were endorsed by the World Health Assembly in May 2014. The scope and purpose of the WHO GCM/NCD are to facilitate and enhance coordination of activities, multistakeholder engagement and action across sectors in order to contribute to the implementation of the WHO Global NCD Action Plan 2013–2020. The WHO GCM/NCD is led by Member States. Other participants include United Nations organizations, as well as non-State actors. Referring to an open call published by the WHO, and based on a Board decision, the Medicus Mundi International Network expressed its interest to join the Global Coordination Mechanism as a "non-State actor". Recently we were informed by the WHO secretariat that MMI is accepted as a GCM/NCD participant.

> http://www.medicusmundi.org/en/contributions/news/2014/mmi-joins-gcm-ncd


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Network paper: MMI – Network Health for All
How to address health workers migration in the "Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health?"

Since early 2014, the Global Health Workforce Alliance (GHWA) has been coordinating a broad-based global consultation, through the development of 8 thematic papers, to collate evidence in support of a next global strategy on HRH. In view of the lack of a paper focusing on health workers migration, MMI, the Health Workforce Advocacy Initiative (HWAI) and the European Project “Health Workers for all and all for health workers” (HW4All) submited a joint feedback on the draft working group paper 1 on “Economic, Demographic, and Epidemiological Transitions and the Future of Health Labour Markets”

> http://www.medicusmundi.org/en/contributions/reports/2014/how-to-address-health-workers-migration-in-the-global-strategy-on-human-resources-for-health


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Network report: Medicus Mundi Spain
Health in development cooperation and human action. Report 2014

The "Health in development cooperation and human action report" made by Medicus Mundi Spain, Médicos del Mundo and Prosalus, was published for the first time in 2002. The 2014 report (language: Spanish) can be found on the website of Medicus Mundi Spain.

> http://www.medicusmundi.es/index.php/famme/publicaciones/informes/informe_2014_la_salud_en_la_cooperacion_al_desarrollo_y_la_accion_humanitaria


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Network documentary: Medicus Mundi Catalunya
Mozambique: A luta continua

Through interviews with officials from the Ministry of Health, donors, international agencies, civil society representatives and Health Ministry’s civil servants themselves, the documentary “A Luta Continua” (“The Fight Goes On”), produced by Medicus Mundi Catalunya, reviews the challenges and the difficulties encountered in Mozambique in order to set up a health system for all. The documentary highlights the circumstances and trends, some internal and some external, that have relegated the Alma Ata concept of Primary Health Care to a mere dialectic resource, far removed from its revolutionary original content.

> http://www.medicusmundi.cat/en/a-luta-continua


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Network report: CWGH
Civil society organisations in Zimbabwe call for UHC for the post-2015 health goal rather than just "MDG plus"

“While major consultations are underway both at national and international level on what happens following the lapse of the Millennium Development Goals next year, civil society in Zimbabwe has called for scrapping of targeted approaches in health delivery system. Through the Community Working Group on Health – the mother body for community and civic based organisations working in the health sector – these pressure groups are advocating for the right to quality health services for everyone.” (“The Herald")

> http://www.herald.co.zw/mdgs-post-2015-universal-coverage-versus-targeted-approach/


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Network analysis: Cordaid
Aid remains crucial source of finance for development

On the Cordaid website, Senior Corporate Strategist Izabella Toth reports on the launch of the Concord Aidwatch 2014 by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris. Concord Aidwatch has monitored and made recommendations on the quality and quantity of aid provided by EU member states since 2005.

> https://www.cordaid.org/en/news/aid-remains-crucial-source-finance-development/


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Network paper: HealthNet TPO
No Peace without Peace of mind

“Emergency aid will become more efficient and attain more long-term targets if  accompanied by psychosocial support. The efforts of the collaboration of Dutch and International aid agencies is directed at assisting the millions of refugees and homeless people of Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, the Central African Republics, the Ukraine, the victims of the Ebola crisis and other humanitarian crises by offering them the psychosocial support that they deserve.” (HealthNet TPO website).

> http://www.healthnettpo.org/en/1573/no-peace-without-peace-of-mind.html


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Network paper: Wemos
Nurses and doctors in a globalized context

“Hanna Wafula lives in a small village in Zambia. She is 50 years old and lives with her husband and four grandchildren. Three of her six children have died: two when they were very young, and one last year at the age of 30. She notices that the doctor in the nearest health centre is rarely present. On the radio she heard that the government plans to spend more money on health care, but she has not seen any effects of increased spending yet. When she goes to the health facility, there is absolutely no guarantee there is a doctor or nurse to attend to her. The shortage of health personnel seriously impacts Hanna’s life. Should she be in need of medical care there might not be a health worker available to treat her or her family.” (article on the Wemos website).

> http://www.wemos.nl/news/?v=2&lid=2&id=359&cid=3

 

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Network conference report: Medicus Mundi Switzerland
„Not without us!“ Youth and sexual and reproductive health in international cooperation

This year's MMI Network meeting was hosted by Medicus Mundi Switzerland (MMS) and linked with the 14th annual Swiss Health Cooperation Symposium organized by MMS. The symposium documentation is now available on the MMS website. Find your picture! The report of the MMI Assembly has been published in the internal section of the MMI ePlatform.

> http://www.medicusmundi.ch/en/conference/not-without-us/documentation?set_language=en
> http://www.medicusmundi.org/en/contributions/events/2014/sexual-and-reproductive-health-and-rights

 

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Network reporting: i+solutions
Annual Report 2013

“Our ambition is to work together to give more people access to medicines that can save their lives and to assist local organizations in achieving this goal. Our focus remains on HIV/AIDS and malaria but we are increasing our involvement in the fields of reproductive health and preventative care.” The annual report of i+solutions is available in English language (PDF).

> http://www.iplussolutions.org/sites/default/files/iplussolutions%20Annual%20Report%202013.pdf 

 

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.

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Health systems strengthening
Universal health coverage
Health services, health financing

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

www.bit.ly/mmi-uhc

See also below: Ebola
Twitter: #UHC

 

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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
Communicable diseases and diseases control

 

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Ebola situation and response
Ebola and health systems
Ebola and the state of global health governance

NEW: MMI thematic guide: Ebola voices
www.medicusmundi.org/en/topics/diseases/ebola

Band Aid for Ebola: see below, 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 NCDs
Nutrition, Disabilities, Mental Health, Care

NEW: MMI thematic guide
www.medicusmundi.org/en/topics/diseases/NCDs

 

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Equity and human right to health
Social 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

See also: Ebola, WHO reform, development

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

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

Twitter: #post2015 #SDGs

 

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Development, aid and international institutions


Special: The Band Aid revival for Ebola

MMI thematic guides:

www.bit.ly/ghgovernance

www.bit.ly/mmi-ngoguide

 

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Other topics

 

Follow the MMI Updates on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/mmi_updates

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