Sharing knowhow and joining forces towards Health for All

MMI Network News, May 2016

MMI Network News, May 2016

Nick Lorenz: "The best is still to come"

Dear reader,

It was in May 2010 when Guus Eskens handed over to me the chair of the Medicus Mundi International Network. The white plastic chair I received outside Château de Bossey was in fact not so heavy, but already at that moment I was quite aware that this was just a beginning, and that the heavier duties and processes were to come. And I was right…

In the six years of being president of MMI, I learnt that the successful development of our Network depends on a mix of “essential ingredients”, and if one of them is not available, the sustainability of the whole project is at risk. I am talking about:

  • A clear identity;
  • A convincing plan;
  • Good output;
  • Strong institutions;
  • Strong leadership and ownership

With the  MMI Network Policy reviewed in 2014 and the Network strategy 2016-2020 adopted last year by the Assembly, we have further shaped our Network’s identity, and we have a convincing plan elaborated in a intensive participatory process involving many Network members. So yes, let us “promote knowledge sharing and mutual learning between actors in international health cooperation”. Let us “provide autonomous, sustainable and stimulating spaces for the analysis and debate of global health and promote platforms for joint civil society advocacy, with a focus on the World Health Organization”. And let us “enhance collaboration among Network members in view of joint projects and consortia”.

We can also be proud of having achieved, over the last years, a considerable track record: Our contributions to the technical dialogue on health systems strengthening, Universal Health Coverage and international cooperation (with our Network meetings as milestones and highlights) and to the political debate on global health and health governance (focusing on the WHO and its events and institutions) have been well received within and beyond the Network.

With the current and future Board and secretariat (I employed Thomas Schwarz 20 years ago as secretary of Medicus Mundi Switzerland when I was their president, and since then the two of us have shared a long journey…) and with our current thematic working groups, we also are lucky to have the institutions and leadership needed for successful work. However the secretariat’s capacities are not sufficient to implement all we want to do, and this is directly linked with the strongly limited financial resources. So let me nevertheless put a question (or exclamation?) mark behind “strong institutions”.

And let us be clear about this point: A Network is what its members want it to be and what they are themselves able to contribute. So for the sustainability and the success of our Network, both further growth of membership and enhanced ownership by its current and future members are a must.

Seven years ago, at the end of his last “message from the president”, Guus Eskens stated that the future of Medicus Mundi International is in its members’ hands. Today I subscribe to this statement. And I am convinced that the best is still to come!

It was a privilege to serve on the MMI Board and as its president.

Nicolaus Lorenz, Medicus Mundi Switzerland – Network Health for All
Also published in: MMI Annual Report 2015, message from the president


MMI Network: Assembly and members’ events

Network Event: Medicus Mundi International
MMI Annual General Assembly
Geneva, 28 May 2016, 09:00-11:30 hrs

The General Assembly of the MMI Network will take place in week of the 69th World Health Assembly (WHA). This well-established arrangement will allow Network members to link their participation in our Assembly with attending the WHA as a member of the MMI delegation; on the other hand WHA delegates will be invited to join the MMI meeting as our guests. The formal invitation for the Assembly was sent to Network members and partners in April. Guests are welcome. If you have not received an invitation, please get in touch with our secretariat.  


Network Event: MMI, Medicus Mundi Switzerland, Cordaid
Promoting access to health in fragile contexts:
What role for international cooperation?
Geneva, 28 May 2016, 12.30-14.30 hrs

As a side event to the General Assembly of the MMI Network - which itself takes place on the last day of the 69th World Health Assembly -, the Network Medicus Mundi Switzerland in cooperation with the Swiss Red Cross (a member of MMS) and Cordaid will co-host a public workshop on challenges and policies for international health cooperation in fragile contexts.


Network Events
World Health Assembly and side events
Geneva, 21-28 May 2016

As an organization in official relations with WHO, the Medicus Mundi International Network is invited to appoint representatives to the World Health Assembly and to make statements under items concerning technical issues. The MMI Network focuses its activities on networking and advocacy on issues such as WHO reform and global health governance, health systems and health workforce , and international health cooperation and Universal Health Coverage. Below some of the many WHA side events with participation of the MMI Network and its members:

  • Civil Society meetings before the WHA

The global health governance team of the MMI Network is a co-organizer of a civil society strategy meeting on Saturday, 21 May, followed by the launch of the "Geneva Global Health Hub" project. Both events are by invitation only. Please send related enquiries to the MMI secretariat.

  • Side events at the Graduate Institute

The Global Health Programme of the Graduate Institute Geneva, a member of Medicus Mundi Switzerland, organizes a series of side events to the WHA, mainly:
Sunday 22 May 2016, 15:00 - 18:00 hrs: Introduction to the WHA
Monday 23 May 2016, 12:00 - 14:00 hrs: IHR 3.0 Simulator
Tuesday 24 May 2016, 18:30 - 20:00 hrs: UHC and the New Health Economy

  • Sasakawa Health Prize 2016

On Friday 27 May, Medicus Mundi Spain (FAMME) will receive the Sasakawa Health Prize 2016 for its project entitled “The Transformation of Public Health Systems Based on the principles of Primary Health Care” developed in Bolivia, El Salvador, Guatemala and Peru. The ceremony will take place in plenary of the World Health Assembly, in the Palais des Nations. To attend this ceremony and all other events in the Palais des Nations, participants need a WHA badge.

More MMI Network events will be published in the June edition of the MMI Network news.


MMI Network: Annual report and members’ "short stories"

Network MMI, Annual Report 2015
A luta continua! Redefining our Network’s
contributions to achieving Health for All

“This is the last annual report that refers to the MMI Network strategy 2011-15 and the three major programs developed by the Network within this framework, mainly: Research and evidence processes; Human Resources for Health; and  Global Health Governance. In these three programs, the MMI Network and its working groups successfully continued the activities undertaken over the last years within the framework of the ‘old strategy’. On the other hand, with the adoption of the Network Strategy 2016-20 by the Assembly in May 2015, we defined new strategic directions of the Medicus Mundi International Network for the coming years. The MMI work plan 2015 ‘Exploring and preparing the ground, first steps and feasibility checks’, developed by the Board after the adoption of the strategy, outlined preparatory steps to be undertaken already in the year before the formal start of strategy implementation. We will therefore also report on initial progress on our Network’s ‘way into the future’.



Network MMI, Annual Report 2015
Short stories by Network members

In addition to the institutional report, we have again received great contributions by MMI Network members. Their "short stories" provide a good picture of realities and challenges in the field of international health cooperation. Thanks - and enjoy!

Contribution by Medici con l’Africa Cuamm
Let’s unite to end Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the world’s most deadly infectious diseases, striking men, women and children alike. Medici con l’Africa CUAMM is working hard to do its part in combating tuberculosis in the countries where it is active, developing and carrying out projects to diagnose and treat the disease in accordance with the respective TB control programs of each country.


Contribution by Cordaid
Health for all: The Walk

How long does it take for a pregnant woman to reach a clinic? In the “most boring film” THE WALK, a Cordaid film team joined Chanceline who lives in a remote rural area of the Democratic Republic of Congo and, for just a simple check-up, has to walk 27 km and back again. THE WALK was presented by Cordaid at the Universal Health Coverage Day 2015 and was an eye-opener for many.



Contribution by action medeor
How to...: Reaching sustainability in a rural health centre in Chiapas, Mexico

Everyone who deals with this topic knows it: Ensuring financial sustainability of social services is very hard work. Especially health services are nearly never fully financially sustainable businesses. This is not even the case in Germany and other so-called “industrialized countries” and much less in countries of the global south where financial resources are even scarcer.



Contribution by EPN and action medeor
Scratch-off labels on pharmaceutical packaging

Counterfeit drugs represent a major health risk for the public health and the individual patient. They lower the confidence in medicines, harm the manufacturers, the importers and the whole health system in the affected country. With the project REAL (Rapid Electronic Authenticity Labels) action medeor e.V. developed an efficient, cheap and user-friendly verification system for medicines based on a label with a unique hidden code that can be checked via internet database. The pharmaceutical personnel as well as the buyer are enabled to ensure the authenticity of the purchased product with the help of a smartphone or a computer with internet access. The REAL scratch-off labeling is being tested until May 2016.



Contribution by Emergenza Sorrisi
Iraq, Nassirya 2008-2016: The bridge of trust

“When Emergenza Sorrisi NGO (past Smile Train) performed its first mission in Iraq, in 2008, in the American Military Camp of Tallil on a Mobile Surgery Unit donated by the Italian Government, nobody could imagine that this would have been the first step of a long time fruitful cooperation between Italy and Iraq.”           


Contribution by Novartis Foundation (member of MMS)
Innovating the delivery of hypertension care

“Gideon Dapaa, 49, a high school teacher from the Lower Manya Krobo District in the Eastern region of Ghana, was diagnosed with hypertension six years ago. He admits that at the end of a long day at work he prefers to watch TV rather than do exercise. To help patients like Gideon manage their disease, the Novartis Foundation has expanded its work to improve the control of hypertension by making services more accessible in the community while empowering individuals to take more responsibility in the management of their own health.”


Contribution by Swiss Red Cross (member of MMS)
Equitable access to quality healthcare for the most vulnerable: Vision or reality? Ex-post impact study

“The core aim of the Swiss Red Cross (SRC) health projects is to enable equitable access to quality health services, particularly for the most vulnerable. While regular evaluations confirmed improved access during project implementation, the long-term effects after SRC phase out have never been reviewed. An analytical review of selected health projects was commissioned in 2014/2015 to two consultants to understand the long-term impact of SRC interventions on equitable access two to five years beyond project termination.“



Contribution by Basel Association of Medical Development (member of MMS)
Lighting up St. Paul hospital in Kashikishi

“The story repeats itself frequently: In a remote place in Africa there is a poor hospital, the hospital has helpers, helpers install hardware, helpers leave, hardware flops, everybody is unhappy, end of engagement, everybody is disenchanted… However, this is a story of how the sad ending is cheated out.”


Contribution by Medicus Mundi Italy
...behind the headlines intertwined

“Burkina Faso is a land-locked country in Western Africa. The Human Development Index ranks it 183rd among 187 countries. Since 2002 the University Hospital of Brescia, Italy has an ongoing collaboration with the Mother&Child department of the Hospital of the Camillian Fathers in Ouagadougou (HOSCO). This report shows the hidden side of political turmoil, which too often hits out of eyeshot the most vulnerable.”



Contribution by Medicus Mundi Navarra-Madrid-Aragón (member of FAMME)
Two cultures united in Right to Health defense

“This is a story about a project which started in 1972 bringing Navarra (Spain) closer to a District Hospital in Nemba (Rwanda) and is still today creating emotional links between people on both countries, joined in a common effort to defend the Right To Health.”



Contribution by Memisa
Giving birth is not a game

“In October 2015, Memisa launched the online videogame “Giving Birth is not a game” to sensitize the Belgian public about the problem of maternal mortality worldwide, and especially in the Southern hemisphere. Memisa invests in emergency transportation for patients in D.R. Congo to help decrease the high mortality rates.”



Contribution by Health Poverty Action
Developing culturally appropriate health systems – key principles

“Health Poverty Action has 30 years of experience in working to improve the health of marginalised groups. We consistently find that cultural barriers provide a fundamental obstruction to accessing health services, and consequently realising the right to health. As a response, we have developed particular expertise in the provision of culturally appropriate health systems.We work with groups including indigenous people in Latin America, ethnic minorities in Asia, and mobile pastoralists in the Horn of Africa.”


Contribution by Wemos
The global challenge of health workforce

“Worldwide, there is a shortage of skilled health workers. Wemos advocated for health workforce worldwide within the EU-funded project Health Workers for All. In 2015, we succeeded in pushing the implementation of the WHO Global Code of Practice higher on the agenda of the European Commission. Although the project finished by the end of February 2016, we will continue our work within the Health Systems Advocacy Partnership, a five-year collaboration with organizations in the Netherlands, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia.”



More stories and resources from MMI Network members will be published in the June edition of the MMI Network News. Please also stand by for the next edition of the “MMI updates - Global health policy, health cooperation, health systems” – or follow them on Twitter:

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