Sharing knowhow and joining forces towards Health for All

MMI Network News, September 2012

Editorial: Health and conflict transformation

Editorial: Health and conflict transformation

Dear reader,

The phrase ‘days of tranquillity’ may remind us of the past holiday season, maybe of a nice resort or just some days without emails. But quite a few of you will undoubtedly also be familiar with ‘days of tranquillity’ as the practice in quite a number of conflicts over the past decades to negotiate a few days of ceasefire with the various warring factions to allow immunisation of children. The primary goal to negotiate these ceasefires is to promote health, but often there is a more hidden hope that the ceasefire may last beyond the immunisation days and that therefore health may promote peace. Days of tranquillity are often mentioned in discussions around ‘Health as a Bridge for Peace’, a concept based on the notion of health providing neutral space to bring warring parties or different ethnic groups together (1). The various conflicts in Central America in the 80’s and the former Yugoslavia in the 90’s led to elaboration of the concept of Health as a Bridge to Peace and was even formally accepted by the World Health Assembly as a ‘multidimensional policy and planning framework which supports health workers in delivering health programmes in conflict and post-conflict situations and at the same time contributes to peace-building’ (2). By and large, it proved difficult to operationalise the concept and there was the critique that activities may place health in the political, peace-building sphere, thereby politicising health (3).

In more recent conflict we have seen the relation between health and peace being increasingly used by the military, in their efforts to win hearts and minds (4), frequently resented by the NGO community who saw humanitarian space decreasing as a result. Also donor agencies have started to frame provision of health and other basic services more and more in the realm of contributing to enhanced state legitimacy and state-building (5). This has led, for instance, to various ‘3D programmes’, combining defence with diplomacy and development.

But also others, including a range of NGOs, are interested in the notion if their health programmes can fulfil a wider role beyond direct health promotion in contributing to conflict transformation. In particular in those countries, that are ‘in transition’, somewhere in between peace and conflict, with a mix of humanitarian needs, recovery efforts, unstable political and security conditions, and poorly functioning government.  After all, conflicts are bad for health, so it would be exciting if strengthening health systems could both stimulate better health outcomes and address root causes that led to the conflict.

Can this be done? Is there any evidence that it works? What are the challenges? How do we measure results? Is it ‘what’ we do or rather ‘how’ we implement activities? Many of these questions are still unanswered and in particular we lack empirical evidence. Does this work ‘on the ground’? With MMI we are therefore organising an expert meeting, 11th October 2012 in Amsterdam, to explore these issues. The meeting will be firmly rooted in experiences from the field and we aim to discuss the value of the different approaches and how we can take this agenda forward.

Egbert Sondorp, Senior Health Advisor, KIT Amsterdam
Co-organiser of the MMI event on “Health systems strengthening
and conflict transformation in fragile states” (see below)


  1. MacQueen G, Santa Barbara J. Mechanisms of Peace through Health. In: Arya N, Santa Barbara J, editors. Peace through Health: How health professionals can work for a less violent world Sterling, VA: Kumarian Press; 2008. p. 30-2.
  3. Sondorp E, Bornemisza O. Health in peace-building: The need to develop guidelines for health professionals, Health Diplomacy Monitor, 2011; Vol 2: issue 2, 2-4
  4. Bricknell M, Gadd R. Roles for international military medical services in stability operations (reconstruction and development) JR Army Med Corps. 2007;153(3):160-4
  5. OECD-DAC. Service delivery in fragile situations: key concepts, findings and lessons. Paris: OECD-DAC; 2008.


MMI Network events, Amsterdam, October 2012

MMI workshop on 10 October 2012
Getting evidence into NGO practice and policy

At this workshop, members of the Medicus Mundi International Network and other NGOs working in the field of international health cooperation will be learning from HealthNet TPO (The Netherlands) and Memisa (Belgium) how they deal with the challenge of getting evidence into their practice. As main programme element of the second part of the meeting, NGOs and representatives of research and teaching institutions discuss the feasibility of a project initiated by the MMI Network to create a “marketplace” for NGOs and young researchers.


MMI events on 10 October 2012
Assembly highlight: admission of new Network members

The research workshop will be followed by an Extraordinary General Assembly of the MMI Network. The highlight of the Assembly will be the admission of three new Network members. The three membership applications are good news for the Medicus Mundi International Network. The designated new Network members will certainly strengthen the Network and its programs. The Assembly will also discuss Network events in the coming year and hopefully adopt the Network’s budget for the year 2013. After the Assembly, the MMI Board will discuss recent developments, and the day will be closed by a dinner in town.

The candidates: 

Assembly and Board meeting:


Expert meeting on 11 October 2012
Health systems strengthening and conflict transformation in fragile states

The objective of this expert meeting organized by the Medicus Mundi International Network together with Cordaid and the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) is to facilitate learning and information sharing on health sector initiatives that aim to improve health outcomes, contribute to longer term, sustainable health system strengthening and conflict transformation in fragile states, in order to inform programming, policy, advocacy and further research.


MMI Network: News, events, resources

Network news: Doctors with Africa Cuamm
Medici con l'Africa. The movie

In August 2012 Carlo Mazzacurati presented "Medici con l'Africa" at the Venice Film Festival, a documentary shot in Mozambique, reporting on the work of volunteers from DWA Cuamm: "This work was produced in a fast, impulsive way, with no strategy either before or during the shootings. My idea was to tell a world that I didn’t know, while I was discovering it, in real time. The film is the story of a group of people who are engaged in bringing health to Africa and about their special way of doing it. I think that the result is a collective portrait, where individuality is fundamental, but where a very strong common spirit exists and makes perseverance and the ability to make sacrifices coexist with sweetness and irony. I’ve been influenced by their particular style and I, too, have tried to make the movie as 'light' as possible on a topic as tragic as the health in sub-Saharan Africa." (Carlo Mazzacurati)


Network report: Wemos/MMI
WHO is too precious an institution for global health to fail!

“’Health is too big to fail’. With these words the WHO Director General (DG) Margaret Chan addressed the 62nd regional committee meeting on 11th September in Malta. Indeed, the DG was present and outspoken during this meeting of WHO Europe. She indicated with her interventions that she is truly at the helm of the organization, steering it to a renewed leadership position in the dense landscape of global health actors and initiatives.” Remco van de Pas, Wemos, represented the MMI Network at the meeting and reports back.


Network Event: Medicus Mundi Switzerland
Mother and child health
Basel, 6 November 2012

This year's Swiss Health Cooperation Symposium organized by the Network Medicus Mundi Switzerland will focus on mother and child health. Announcements are available in German and French only.


Network event: ACHAP
Increasing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Africa:
the challenge of sustainability in scaling up FBOs response
Lusaka, 25-28 February 2013

The Africa Christian Health Associations’ Platform (ACHAP) will hold their 6th Biennial Christian Health Associations Conference on February 25-28, 2013 in Lusaka, Zambia. The conference will be hosted by the Churches Health Association of Zambia (CHAZ) in collaboration with ACHAP Secretariat. The conference will create an opportunity for Christian Health Associations to take stock of their contribution to the non-communicable diseases prevention and management in various countries and discuss opportunities for strengthening capacity, partnerships and health systems for quality, accessible, integrated and sustainable services for NCD prevention and control through the faith based health networks in Africa.


Network reporting: various MMI members
Annual reports 2011

The following Network members recently published their annual reports:

  • The annual report of Medicus Mundi Italia is available in Italian.
  • The annual report of AGEH is available in German.

More annual reports of Network members: collection

International Health Policy: MMI updates

Health systems strengthening
Health services, health financing
Universal health coverage

MMI thematic guides:


Human resources for health

MMI thematic guides:


Access to medicines and vaccination

MMI thematic guide (to be revisited):


Women’s and children’s health


MMI thematic


Equity and human right to health
Social, economic and political determinants of health

MMI thematic  


Global health governance and policy
Beyond 2015, MDGs and SDGs


MMI thematic guides:



NGO debate

MMI thematic guide:


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