The Network Medicus Mundi Switzerland in cooperation with the Swiss Red Cross (a member of MMS) and Cordaid organized a public side event to the General Assembly of the Medicus Mundi International Network – which itself took place on the last day of the 69th World Health Assembly. The two hours workshop focused on challenges and policies for international health cooperation in fragile contexts.

The public lunch event “Promoting access to health in fragile contexts: What role for international cooperation?” attended by over 70 participants built on last year’s well-attended side event to the MMI Assembly (Strengthening or weakening health systems?) and on a MMI/Cordaid expert meeting organized in 2012 in Amsterdam (Health systems strengthening and conflict transformation in fragile states).

In the field of “health aid”, the public and political attention is often focused on open humanitarian emergencies (access to health in war-torn Syria, health care for refugees) and epidemics (fighting Ebola or Zika). On the other hand, the promotion of universal health coverage within strong national health policies and systems assumes the existence of a national government which is able and willing to take the lead.

It is a difficult task to implement health programmes in environments where the health systems are already weak and threatened by a wide range of political and social conflicts. Working in such fragile contexts demands a sensitive approach for not worsening the situation. But international health cooperation can also play an important role in conflict transformation by building robust service delivery institutions and integrating crisis response strategies.

Guiding questions:

  • Contributions of health cooperation programs to reduce or overcome fragility (can health programmes have a positive influence on key drivers of fragility; how, at which level)
  • Complementary role of CSO/NGOs and government actors / development agencies: respective roles, how to link local with national level actors?

A conference in Bern in August an this year’s symposium of Medicus Mundi Switzerland (Working in fragile contexts and building up resilient systems for health, 2nd November 2016) will provide an opportunity to continue and deepen the dialogue.

Programme and presentations

  • Thomas Schwarz, Network MMI
  • Martin Leschhorn Strebel, Network Medicus Mundi Switzerland
  • Verena Wieland, Swiss Red Cross
    Health programmes in fragile contexts: Experiences and analysis of the Swiss Red Cross. Presentation (PPT as PDF)
  • Christina de Vries, Cordaid
    Cordaid’s approach for adapting to different levels of fragility. Presentation (PPT as PDF)
  • Discussion moderated by Remco van de Pas, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Board member of Medicus Mundi International