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International health cooperation and Health Systems Strengthening. "Federal Café" debate at the Geneva Health Forum 2016

International health cooperation and Health Systems Strengthening. "Federal Café" debate at the Geneva Health Forum 2016

Geneva, 21 April 2016, 12.30-14.00 hrs. The “Federal Café” debate at the Geneva Health Forum 2016 hosted by MMI and Medicus Mundi Switzerland  provided an open space for an initial debate about the demand and options for setting up platforms beyond the existing mechanisms where actors in health cooperation can critically reflect and frankly debate their policies and instruments and learn from each other.

  • “To remain relevant, international cooperation needs to move beyond aid, and its policies and methods need to be carefully reassessed. But health cooperation still has an important role to play.”
  • “There are always many people and institutions working in the field of international health cooperation participating in global health conferences such as the Geneva Health Forum, but these conferences are not an easy home for us.”
  • “Let us renew our interest and invest(igate) in instruments, platforms and communities of practice for critically assessing our own work and promoting more effective health cooperation!”

The members of the Medicus Mundi Switzerland and Medicus Mundi International Networks are rooted in development cooperation for health, a field of activities that has, such as the terms to describe it, considerably developed over time.

In the past, our networking focused on health system strengthening and related issues. Today we ask how international cooperation itself can best contribute to enhancing resilient and responsive health systems while and improving access to health. And we realize that there is still a lack of platforms where multiple actors in health cooperation can critically reflect their policies and instruments and learn from each other. At the proposed session, the need for such enhanced platforms will be discussed by representatives of various institutions involved in international health cooperation.

More particularly, the analysis of the role and contribution of health cooperation tends to be neglected or addressed in an unsystematic way in relevant symposia on global health (mostly in satellites and individual sessions). Also in the outline of the GHF2016, health cooperation has not been considered as a "vector of innovation”. Despite the fact that there will be many representatives of international health cooperation participating, it will be difficult to find the right entry point to address approaches, policies and instruments of health cooperation and their impact on national health policies and systems.

Programme and documentation

The initial input by Thomas Schwarz, Medicus Mundi International, introduced the topic and recapitulated the starting points:
  • International health cooperation: What are we talking about?
    - A confusing and crowed space
    - An uncertain future – as part of a bigger picture
    - A contested field – and the need for frank debates and mutual learning
  • International cooperation and national policies, plans and systems: There are existing spaces and instruments for the discussion and promotion of effective health cooperation, but they cannot be taken as granted
  • International health cooperation at global health conferences: No easy home
  • Conclusions, proposals

Input text only (PDF): download
Input ppt (low resolution PDF, 5 MB): download
Input ppt (zip file, 26 MB): download
See also: Editorial in MMI Network news, April 2016

Four discussants from different actors / constituencies involved in international health cooperation provided their assessments of the need for enhanced platforms and communities of practice for the dialogue on international health cooperation.

  • Finn Schleimann, World Health Organization, IHP+
  • Jacques Mader, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
  • Janet Perkins, Enfants du Monde
  • Ilona Kickbusch, Graduate Institute Geneva, Global Health Programme

The open debate, involving other voices and actors and deepening the dialogue, was chaired by Thomas Vogel, Medicus Mundi Switzerland.

Photos from the event taken by MM Switzerland

Contact for feedback and enquiries

  • Thomas Schwarz, Executive Secretary
    Medicus Mundi International. Network Health for All, +41 61 383 18 11


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