Sharing knowhow and joining forces towards Health for All

Helping all Players pull at the same rope

Helping all Players pull at the same rope

In June 2008, the Medicus Mundi International Network was invited to the 8th Plenary Assembly of the Association of Episcopal Conferences of the Central African Region (ACERAC). This exceptional invitation was a unique opportunity for a lay organization to talk directly to more than 60 bishops of the Central African Region. All six countries of the region were represented: Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and the Central African Republic.

For MMI, participating in the ACERAC conference was obvious considering its long history working with faith-based organizations. Furthermore, this conference at a very high hierarchical level of the Catholic Church allowed MMI to fulfill its role of working with international bodies rather than at the field level, where members of its Network are active.

Presenting the Network and promoting our aspiration

Faith-based-related health services account for about 40% of the provision of health care and services in Africa. They typically operate alongside national health planning exercises and their contribution is often, therefore, not officially recognized. This constitutes our rationale to encourage their linkage to respective public sector counterparts and planning processes using contracting as a tool for discussion and as a process to reach agreements.

The goals of MMI’s presence in Bangui were (1) to present our organization, the Network, its members and activities, (2) to raise the bishops’ awareness of the paramount importance of the contribution of faith-based organizations in sub-Saharan African health systems, especially in remote areas and/or for the most vulnerable, (3) to involve them in the transformation of African health systems and (4) to promote contracting as a tool to work in partnership with all public and private actors of their respective national health system, assigning tasks, roles and responsibilities to the various stakeholders.

During our presentation to the bishops, we could address such issues as the necessity to have all actors joining forces to achieve further improvements in health, the imperative of sound and transparent financial management as well as participative governance mechanisms. All these would of course need to rely on capable and dedicated professionals, supported by an established human resources management system.

Finally, we could promote Medicus Mundi International Network as an organization dedicated to alleviating poverty by promoting health, presenting each member’s activities and speciality. 

An unachieved goal to pursue

Medicus Mundi International will certainly continue helping players in sub-Saharan health systems contribute to the achievement of health for all, responding to the needs and expectations of many partners in international health.

Doing this, Medicus Mundi International will follow ETC Crystal and Wemos’ guidance, as they stated in a 2003 report: “Collaboration with NGOs, in particular church related health institutions, has become more important than with the for-profit private sector. Since NGOs often specifically target vulnerable population groups or underserved areas, and their objectives are closer to those of the government, the public sector has turned towards contracting out to the not-for-profit sector.”
We look forward to playing an instrumental role in this endeavor and hope our partners will recognize the value of our contribution. Nevertheless, in order to make a difference and guarantee a sustainable change, the Network needs to act as such and to make sure both Medicus Mundi International and its member organizations are pulling at the same rope.

Thomas Vogel, Medicus Mundi Switzerland, in: Medicus Mundi International, Annual Report 2008


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