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from 8.30

Arrival, coffee and croissants


Plenary session 1


Welcome and introduction


The Community is my University

Illustrations and reading from the book by Selina Maphorogo and Erika Suter: The successful “Care Groups” project in communities close to Elim Hospital in South Africa, from the perspective of a number of key participants.


Carel IJsselmujden, COHRED:
Lessons from the Elim Care Group Project

Set up to improve health services to communities around the Elim Hospital, the Care Groups have, in turn, had an impact on the hospital. The history of the Care Groups illustrates both the tensions that can arise between private and state backers of a community health project, the need for the organizations funding a development project to take a long-term view, and the importance of individuals such as Selina Maphorogo or Erika Suter, whose strength and personality can be crucial for the success of a project.




Plenary session 2


Wápouni! Wápouni! La Médecine en Pirogue

Extracts from Philippe Souaille’s film (2004): Community health and the inclusion of traditional medicine in Ecuador’s Amazon Basin.


Verena Wieland, Swiss Red Cross
Wápouni! Wápouni! Finding a path through the virgin forest…

A Swiss NGO's role and scope for action in community-based health promotion: a health-promotion programme supported by the Swiss Red Cross in Ecuador’s Amazon Basin, which has to reconcile the project’s own concepts, the needs of the indigenous population and the prevailing conditions in the Ecuadorian national health service.


Thomas Wendieuwo, Beat Stoll
“We’re doing it our way. But perhaps you can help us…“

A representative of the Development Committee of Badoumwen, Cameroon, in discussion with a Swiss physician: What role can Swiss organizations play in supporting self-confident and self-empowered primary healthcare initiatives and structures? What mistakes have to be avoided?


Marcel Tanner, Swiss Tropical Institute
Community Action for Health

Attempt at a briefing: Notable statements made in the course of the morning are discussed in relation to the questions the symposium is addressing.



12 noon

Midday break for stand-up lunch

1.15 p.m.

Parallel session


Alexander Schulze, Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development:
Developing a sense of ownership – utopian or feasible?

Community-based action must be locally empowered if it is to have a chance of being sustainable. But is it at all possible for a community to feel ownership of programmes developed “externally”? Experience gained in a community-based health project in Cinzana/Mali.

Moderation/Facilitation: Thomas Vogel, Advimed, Geneva


Vreni Vogelsanger, KOSCH Foundation:
”Health from below” – more than just wishful thinking?

When it’s a question of overcoming hierarchical structures or of the low status of the “people”, then the situation in Switzerland, too, leaves a lot to be desired. What can the self-help movement achieve in a rich country – and where is it needed? An attempt to build bridges that transcend limits.

Moderation/Facilitation: Ruedi Spoendlin, Soziale Medizin, Basel


Maja Hess, medico international:
“We want to be part of the community!”

Are socially disadvantaged or marginalized groups able and empowered to play an active role in the community? What form could their self-empowered integration take? How can national and international organizations help them in such a way that such assistance is perceived as emancipatory rather than paternalistic? An attempt by the families of severely handicapped children to organize themselves and their struggle to achieve a place for themselves in the community and safeguard their rights: “Los Angelitos” in Chalatenango, El Salvador.

Moderation/Facilitation: Helena Zweifel, Medicus Mundi Switzerland, Basel




Plenary session 3


Beat Stoll, ISPM Geneva:
“There is no such things as the community”

What do “community” and “community-based health” mean in different geographical, social, political, historical and cultural settings? Can the concept of “Community Action for Health” actually be applied and implemented everywhere?


Kate Molesworth, SDC:
Community Action for Health in conflict:
addressing the roots of rebellion in rural Nepal

The Swiss Development Cooperation’s Rural Health Development Project, based on principles of inclusion, empowerment and community action for health, provides an example of how even in the context of civil war, this approach can fill the gap in state provision of health services, while encouraging good governance and conflict mitigation at the grass-roots level.


Mira Shiva, New Delhi, India:
Health for all – built up from below

What can local or national action achieve with regard to health for all? How do the people behind such action judge the value and possible negative effects of international health programmes and initiatives? How good are the chances for international alliances and networks of primary healthcare initiatives such as the “People’s Health Movement”?


Wrap-up and outlook: Thirty years after the Alma Ata conference on primary healthcare, the international agenda is again being dominated by “vertical” approaches such as the Millennium Goals or the Global Funds, which are focused on a single sector or disease. What is the situation today with regard to the involvement of communities and to primary healthcare? Is there no longer any hope for “health from below” models?


End of symposium


Moderator: Anne-Marie Holenstein