Promoting access to health in fragile contexts: What role for international health cooperation?

Public side event to the 69th World Health Assembly

Side event organised by Cordaid, MMI, MMS and the Swiss Red Cross

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.

Promoting access to health in fragile contexts:  What role for international health cooperation?

The Network Medicus Mundi Switzerland in cooperation with the Swiss Red Cross and Cordaid will co-host a public side event to the General Assembly of the Medicus Mundi International Network – which itself takes place on the last day of the 69th World Health Assembly. The two hours workshop will focus on challenges and policies for international health cooperation in fragile contexts.

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.

The lunch event builds 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”). 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.

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?




Introduction by 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

Christina de Vries, Cordaid:

Cordaid’s approach for adapting to different levels of fragility

Discussion moderated by Remco van de Pas, MMI Board and Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp



Location: Museum of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Av. de la Paix 17, Geneva

Contact: Martin Leschhorn Strebel, Network Medicus Mundi Switzerland


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