The work plan 2018-2019 of the MMI working group on Effective Health Cooperation is based on the overall objective of MMI in this field of work: “In a rapidly changing and unstable world with increasing inequities, we promote democratic, legitimate and effective health cooperation for social justice, global solidarity, respect to human rights”. For the underlying analysis, we refer to the MMI discussion paper “Health Cooperation: Its relevance, legitimacy and effectiveness as a contribution to achieving universal access to health” published in October 2016.

The plan covers two interrelated fields of work:

1. Advocacy and policy dialogue at global, national, local levels

“By the end of 2019, a critical narrative on development cooperation policies and practices in the health sector and beyond finds greater attention by the key actors involved.”

Growing nationalism, democratic regressions, economic neoliberalism, as well as an ecological crisis contribute to increasing inequities, deteriorated social cohesion and poor health. All these trends influence the discourse on international cooperation.

At the same time, citizen groups criticize or reject the (economic) development model and instruments (see advocacy on planetary boundaries, circular economy, degrowth). The work of visionaries and promoters of an integrated and holistic “global domestic policy” based on shared values, as expressed in the UN SDG agenda must be propagated further.

The aspirational goals and targets contained in the SDG agenda require substantial transformative action at global, national and local level, but this is rarely addressed or discussed when development cooperation is debated. Also too little attention is given to the political economy of attaining the SDGs.

The current mainstream discourse on international health cooperation shows all these fissures, e.g. with the promotion a global health security agenda (post-Ebola), the macroeconomic case for “investing in health”, the promotion of a narrowly defined “universal health coverage” instead of universal access to health, the business model of “innovative multi-stakeholder partnerships”, and the hype around technological innovation.
There are platforms for the dialogue on policies and methods of international/health cooperation, such as the newly established multi-stakeholder Partnership for Universal Health Coverage (UHC2030) or the structures provided by OECD or ECOSOC. It is, however, quite a challenge to contribute to these platforms with critical views and evidence as they largely follow traditional patterns and routines among powerful players, experts and “stakeholders”.
In the field of advocacy and policy dialogue at global, national, local levels, MMI and its working group on EHC will

  • formulate, promote, disseminate and seek political traction for a critical narrative on international exchanges concerning policies that affect public health;
  • support those with critical first-hand experience with or affected by international health cooperation to feed their voices into the debate at all levels;
  • participate in and contribute to a global civil society conversation and actions on socio-ecological justice, reducing social inequalities, rejecting the planet’s ecological destruction, promoting an alternative economic model beyond the development model of the last two centuries;
  • invest activities on key topics and opportunities in the international calendar where Network members and partners are already engaged.

MMI and its working group on EHC are well positioned to influence the global conversation on sustainable development and development cooperation in the health sector and beyond:

  • MMI members contribute expertise and evidence from different perspective, in particular: field experience in health cooperation, academic research; policy development and evaluation and political advocacy.
  • MMI is in a good position to convene and foster discussion and learning processes on policies and practices of institutions of international health cooperation.
  • MMI has already a good track record and reputation as a promoter of “health cooperation beyond aid” which can be used as a reference and starting point for continued and enhanced activities.
  • Through its WHO/UHC2030 related work and its membership in the People’s Health Movement (PHM), MMI is part of a global network of critical civil society and has a good reputation as both convenor and advocate.

2. Institutional strengthening of International Health NGOs

“By the end of 2019, NGOs in the field of international health cooperation have been provided with opportunities and new valid platforms and instruments for institutional learning, sharing and cooperation for improving their policies and practices.”

Many of the members of the MMI Network are rooted and engaged in development cooperation for health (health cooperation). Promoting “relevant” and “effective” health cooperation towards improving health outcomes and strengthening health systems has become an important aim of many NGOs.

However, there is still a lack of platforms in which they can critically reflect on their work and values, share their know-how and experiences, learn from each other and have an opportunity to further develop their institutional and personal skills and practices in view of advancing their work beyond the established aid paradigm.

In order to be relevant, legitimate and effective, the work of international NGOs in the field of health cooperation needs to reflect on its underlying values and norms.

As a starting point for a deeper conversation with Network members and partners, and referring to our discussion paper (2016), we propose the following “good qualities” of international health cooperation:

  • It contributes to achieving universal access to health.
  • It promotes health equity and human rights.
  • It strengthens and does not weaken people centred health systems.
  • It is demand driven and based on partnership between institutions and people.
  • It is aware of its catalytic nature and its structural role, responsibilities and limitations.
  • It promotes and includes continued learning and reflecting on approaches, methods and practices.
  • It is part of an institution’s broader engagement for global health equity and human rights to address the broader determinants of health and health policies.

In the field of institutional strengthening of International Health NGOs, MMI and its working group on EHC will

  • deepen the conversation about “health cooperation beyond aid” among NGOs within and beyond the MMI Network;
  • broaden the conversation beyond northern NGOs and include in particular academia and critical civil society voices from the Global South;

The MMI EHC work plan 2018-19 is supported by the Open Societies Foundation with a grant.
Network members and interested partners are invited to order the work plan at the secretariat