Contributions Spring 2021


​​​​​​​Contributions Spring 2021

Latest news

SUN and Global Fund get top marks ​​in the new Report on Gender Equality in Global Health 

The recently launched Global Health 50/50​ report places SUN in the top 5% of the annual Gender and Health Index on gender equality across 201 organisations active in Global Health. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is ranked as one of the “12 very high-scoring” organizations.

2021 scores: SUN is on the rise

  • Scaling up Nutrition has improved and finds itself in the top 5% of those assessed in 2021, and is highlighted in the report as one making a large step in the right direction the past year. GAVI, Stop TB and the Global Fund, and SUN are now ranked as the most successful public-private partnerships in ensuring gender equality in this index.

  • This improvement can be linked to two key factors: Work having gone into ensuring a gender transformative strategy (and the Executive Committee agreeing and accepting this, in the final draft) for 2021-2025, which formed a key part of this improvement. The fact that this index was mentioned in the Strategy Annex is also a good practice, to encourage further work in this area.

  • UNOPS has also scaled up work towards gender-transformative workplace policies in 2019-2020, also in a time of COVID-19, which became a key indicator in 2021.

  • In 2021, SUN is highlighted as good practices in: gender-transformative language (in strategy), sexual harassment policies (UNOPS), having launched the 2019 call to action, and having workplace policies in the public domain.


​Renee de Jong
Scaling Up Nutrition​​

Global Fund as one of the “12 very high-scoring” organizations.

Kent Buse and Sarah Hawkes, Co-Directors of Global Health 50/50, congratulated the Global Fund for this year’s performance: “By taking deliberate and transparent actions, the Global Fund keeps the pressure on themselves and others in the sector to continue pushing for change, and provides much needed hope that we can achieve gender equality in our quest for health, dignity and social justice for all.”
The Global Fund’s strategy for 2017-2022 commits us to promote and protecting human rights and gender equality. Accelerating progress in addressing the gender and human rights barriers to accessing health care is vital to reducing the number of infections and improving the effectiveness of treatment services.

“Our rating in the Global Health 50/50 report reflects not just the fundamental importance of gender equality to our work, but also our continued commitment to gender equality within the organization,” said Marijke Wijnroks, Chief of Staff of the Global Fund. “We are an organization that is committed to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion and we have put specific measures in place for that, including in our recruitment processes and in our benefits packages to staff. We have strengthened our codes of conduct to address diversity, equity and inclusion. Our commitment to address gender issues is wide-ranging, transparent and backed up with training.” 
Overall, the report underscores that a lot of work still needs to be done to accelerate progress on gender equality in global health, as shown by the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report found that global health programs have failed to provide equitable and gendered responses to the pandemic, leading to predominantly “gender-blind pandemic responses.” Released on International Women’s Day, the report regrets the lack of determined and concrete measures to end gender inequality inside organizations as well failure to apply a gender lens in health programming. 

While underscoring the need for more action, the report also identifies several areas of hope – noting that incremental progress has been made since the first report four years ago. More organizations have shown great commitment to gender equality and more organizations are becoming increasingly transparent about their policies on shaping diverse, inclusive and equitable working environments for people. 


Ernest Waititu 
The Global Fund 

End Inequalities. End AIDS – New global AIDS Strategy 2021-26

 On March 25th, the UNAIDS's Program Coordination Board (PCB), of which SDC/Switzerland is an active member, adopted the new Global AIDS Strategy 2021-2026 to accelerate and reinforce the fight against HIV, AIDS and discrimination. This progressive strategy sets ambitious new targets and cross-cutting principles on access to and delivery of HIV combination prevention, testing and treatment, as well as linkages to a wide range of health issues and essential care packages. At the core, lays a people-centred approach, based on human rights and gender equality – without it, further progress in eliminating HIV/AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 would otherwise not be possible.

​While key populations worldwide and the high disease burden on Sub-Saharan African women and girls rightly remain a strong focus of this framework, renewed efforts will now also target young adults and reinforce the important link to community-led responses. The 2021-26 strategy aims to decrease punitive laws and policies at the country level, and ensures flexibility in localized approaches to address stark global, regional and even in-country differences in the epidemiological reality of HIV transmissions and corresponding target groups.

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the strategy was elaborated with inputs from 10'000 stakeholders, 160 countries, member states, 11 UN-Agencies, communities and civil society, and dedicated UNAIDS staff over the past 15 months. It has not only capitalized on UNAIDS' own past “outbreak" experiences but has now lock-in targets for pandemic preparedness and other humanitarian crisis situations to prevent HIV service delivery interruptions, under any circumstances.

Help us promote the Global AIDS Strategy with this video.

We invite you to read the Strategy (PDF) and look forward to joining efforts in our commitment to walk the last mile!


Corine Corradi
Programme Officer, Global Programme Health, SDC

Build Back Fairer – Achieving Health Equity in the Eastern Mediterranean Region

In 2019, the WHO Regional Director of the Eastern Mediterranean established the Commission on the Social Determinants in the Eastern Mediterranean Region to carry out an extensive review of health inequities in the region. The Commission has now published its first report: Build back fairer: achieving health equity in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.

The Commission draw the state of health inequities in the region, and in their analysis identified conflict, society and culture, as well as health systems, as key determinants of health – among others. These findings provide an important evidence-base for the argument of peace and social cohesion as drivers for health equity. The report also highlighted key principles for governance and key actions steps to achieve health equity specific to the regional context in 12 different topics.

​This report was written during the inception phase of the SDC's programme Determinants for Health Equity, and provided valuable knowledge for its implementation in the region. The programme aims to improve the health of 20 million people across twelve lower and middle-income countries by addressing major determinants of health and integrating health equity into the development of social and economic policies. The Eastern Mediterranean Region Commission provided the opportunity to develop a network of partners, including civil society organisations, academia, UN, non-UN organisations and governments, to promote debate and action on social determinants of health in the region. 

We invite you to read more about the Commission's findings and recommendations in the Executive Summary or Executive Brief. Further information can also be found via the Regional Office's media centre.

Country activities


Young researchers benefit from a new training program on Scientific Operational Research in Health​

In Albania, there is ​a need to boost capacities in operational research with a focus on Primary Health Care and Public Health. The country lacks research education in health professional curricula and teaching documents on research topics in the Albanian language. Moreover, there is a lack of financial resources to practice and implement research activities in the frame of University Curricula.  “During my studies in pharmacy, the statistics course was the only one related to research. Thus, it has been very difficult to gain proper training on research” – states Joana, a young researcher in the health domain. 

Therefore, Health for All (HAP), an SDC project implemented by Swiss TPH, established an intensive research training program, that aims at offering a comprehensive introduction into Scientific Operational Research methods and other related aspects. The program consists of 12 modules and the subjects vary, from how to develop a research protocol to translation of data into knowledge and policies, thus impacting the improvement of the health system and service organization and management. All the modules are taught in Albanian as a response to the needs of young researchers. “I very much appreciate the fact that, differently from other trainings I have attended, the entire program is delivered in Albanian, and the teaching material is mostly in Albanian, that makes it much easier to understand the technical part”, – states one of the participants in the program.

The program targets young researchers interested in conducting operational research in Primary Health Care and Public Health. The first cohort of researchers attending the program is composed of professionals with different backgrounds, from medicine and public health to economic sciences. “The program has been very valuable to me because it has helped me to clarify any uncertainty I had in relation to scientific research – states one participant. - I would like to underline the fact that the modules are carefully selected and very interactive, include case studies and are delivered by experienced lecturers who bring practical examples.” 
About 65 teaching hours have been spent to deliver this training program. A module-based evaluation is applied to help empowerment of participants and motivation for positive changes of the organizers. 

HAP plans to replicate the training program to other cohorts of students and young professionals in order to increase the interest and capacities to conduct research in health and to create a critical mass of young researchers, that can benefit from funding opportunities and produce information and data for evidence-based decision-making in health.  HAP is working for the program to be adopted by the respective continuing education unit at the Faculty of Medicine and other interested faculties. Under its goal to enhance research capacities in Albania, HAP is supporting an initiative that provides micro-funds to young researchers for conducting operational research activities in health.

For more information click here​.


Irma Qehajaj
Communication Officer at Health for All Project
Linkedin |


National Agency for Public Health’s Communication Campaigns

Therapeutic education is an integral part of the treatment of patients with type 2 diabetes and important to integrate into routine medical practice. The Republic of Moldova has scarce resources, including medical professionals that can play a role in patient education for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) management and beyond. 

The Healthy Life Project worked with the Moldovan Society of Endocrinologists and family medicine specialists to review the education needs of diabetic persons along the patient pathway. This included opportunities within the health centre (waiting hall, check-up room, examination room, class for patient education),  and to reach the wider target audience of people at risk of type 2 diabetes, or with prediabetes, persons newly diagnosed, with a history of diabetes and its acute or chronic complications.     

The developed materials include posters, a patient guide and diary, brochures, leaflets oriented towards risk factors reduction and type 2 diabetes care. Patients themselves were involved in their development, and the final package presents a comprehensive approach that requires people-centered continuity, repetition, and resumption of information, risk factors and disease evolution clarifications.

The key product is a Diary for self-management and type 2 diabetes control that lends itself to continuous and dynamic use throughout the patient's life. Furthermore, short videos were recorded to remind patients about the correct technics of glucose measurement and other vital functions check. 

To facilitate the introduction of these materials, 65 trainings, including online trainings with the onset of the pandemic, were supported for medical professionals (over ​​3400 participants). Regular check-up visits at health facilities were reorganised as remote consultations. More than 55,000 copies of the materials have been requested so far. All materials are also available at the Project website or​​.  


Valeriu Sava
National Program Officer in Health, Representation of the Embassy of Switzerland to Moldova​​


The Queens of Sanitation, Hygiene and Water - GOTAS

The honourable Matilde Canhenga and Fatima Asseli are our Queens of sanitation, hygiene promotion and sustainable water supply, for Mbetazigone, Lichinga District, Niassa Province. In the context of Niassa, for someone to be a queen, they must first play a leading role in society. According to Vene (2018), historically, the figure of a traditional Queen in Niassa, played a key role in maintaining the balance of power, through the skills to guide several traditional rites. These include the preparation of elixirs and medicines to fortify warriors, purify trading caravans bound for the Indian Ocean and for use in sacred rites to call the rains, as well as being advisors to the traditional leaders, Régulos. Matilde and Fatima recognised that their community had long suffered from waterborne disease and decided to participate in a meeting for hygiene behaviour change supported by the GoTAS programme. Due to their proactivity, they were chosen by the community as leading members of the sanitation group and this is when their leadership journey began. Their mission was to convince other women and men in the community to adhere to good sanitation and hygiene practices. These women actively participated in community mobilization until the community achieved Open Defecation Free (ODF) Status. Because of their leadership role in the community, Matilde and Fatima increased their self-esteem, gained popularity in the community and district, and managed to rally the community for the construction of 2 water boreholes. They continue to mobilize families to contribute to the operation and maintenance funds for the boreholes. This is their story in their own words...

The community’s past
“We received this well 4 years ago, the way it works today is like it was built yesterday. Previously, our life was really complicated, we had to go to the river to fetch precious water. Life was not easy, we shared the same water source with wild animals, and in turn, diarrheal diseases were also inevitable. There was a time that cholera, diarrhoea, and malaria were common amongst the community. People of all ages, knew what was happening and what needed to be done to reduce the incidence of these diseases. We are very grateful for the initiative of the GoTAS programme, which opened our eyes, for having told us that the solution to these problems was in our hands, and that it was possible to overcome this problem together without having to spend a lot of money“

The change 
“The first activity that the GoTAS programme encouraged us to undertake was to organise ourselves, so we appointed respected leaders to lead the process of change. Subsequently, the sanitation group was created, composed of 12 people, 6 women and 6 men. Thus, we were able to work together until we ensured that each family from the community had access to a toilet. Initially, we failed to achieve ODF status, however, the community did not stop there, it continued to work and the following year we managed to achieve ODF status. Through this process we gained strength and resilience and through our Local Council we strived to advocate until we obtained a water borehole. Today, we have this source of water. Since our community is very large, we advocated to have a second source of water, once all the conditions were created, we received another water borehole. All residents of this village and beneficiaries of these two water sources in the community, recognize the effort of the community leadership in wanting to develop our community. Therefore, everyone is aware that these two boreholes in this community must not in stop working due to lack of funds, we must all contribute in order to continue to drink clean water. So, with the funds collected, we have managed to repair our water sources. Last week the bushes on the pump failed, on the same day we travelled to the city to buy the parts, returned and managed to replace them. It was a beautifully smooth process thanks to the collaboration of the community together with our advisory board. Today, we have a clean community, people are healthy, children can study well, the distances to fetch water are reduced, and consequently we are happy in our homes… 
Long live Water, Long live GoTAS

Download the story in EN and PT​. 

GOTAS Contact

Telephone: +258 21 486790 


The Covid-19 pandemic: a major threat to the healthcare system, but also an opportunity. MER project contributions to the Covid-19 response​

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Kyrgyzstan in March 2020, it caused major disruptions at all levels, in the health sector​ in particular, overwhelming the response capacity of medical services. Like many countries around the world, Kyrgyzstan lacked the necessary equipment and the organizational capacity to respond efficiently to the epidemic. Health authorities did their best to build up a coordinated response with the limited resources available. No need to say that this major health crisis had a serious impact on all cooperation projects, particularly those in the health sector. This was the case of the SDC's Medical Education Reforms (MER) project in the Kyrgyz Republic, financed and owned by SDC. This project has been working since 2008 in reforming and strengthening the capacity of institutions involved in the education and training of medical students, doctors, particularly family medicine doctors, and nurses. The reform targeted all levels of medical education: pre-graduate and post-graduate training, and continuing medical education (CME).

Since its inception, the MER project has been working towards re-connecting and integrating more medical education into medical services to contribute more efficiently to the health system reform, focusing on primary care and strengthening its capacity. It is also decentralizing medical education by sending students and residents to the regions, increasing the role and responsibilities of regional healthcare facilities in medical education (ME). This integrative approach is essential to address the shortage of medical professionals in rural Kyrgyzstan, to provide well-qualified and competent doctors to serve the healthcare needs of the local population.

Based on the Swiss Embassy request to reorient some project activities, the MER project became actively involved in the COVID-19 response. With the support of its partners' active involvement, many of the MER activities were reoriented into four main fields: 1) Strengthening the communication capacity at the Government and Ministry of Health (MoH) levels, by hiring consultants during the peak of the epidemic, 2) Supporting the development of a 118 Hotline and the implementation of call centers in the 7 regions/oblasts, 3) Providing Visio-conference equipment to regional medical facilities to support the distance-training of medical professionals, 4) Raising the visibility and supporting the role of nurses as key actors on the front line.

Strengthening Communication Capacity

MER helped the Government to shape and select key messages on COVID-19 control and prevention for the population. Simultaneously communication experts joined the MoH team to reinforce their communication capacities on developing and promoting the MoH main guidelines and messages. The expertise of the MER team, medical and nursing professional associations were solicited to facilitate access to useful international documents and guidelines to be adapted to the Kyrgyz context. It contributed to the  development of a series of documents on frequently asked questions (FAQ), practical guidelines for people staying at home in confinement, on stress management. The pandemic provided an opportunity to boost the role of professional associations and to involve them in the training of medical workers on the COVID-19 response. The Kyrgyz Medical Association (KMA) and Family medicine association (FGPA) played an important role in developing and conveying COVID-19 prevention and case management guidelines and recommendations. 

Call-Centers development – 118 Hotline

In partnership with the MoH and the SOROS foundation, MER financed the development and implementation of call centers in all the 7 regions of the country. The establishment of the 118 Hotline was a great success: people called to get general information on COVID-19, referral and testing, but also prevention and treatment. MER contributed to the development of questionnaires, algorithms and training of the operators, many of them being residents in the Family Medicine Specialty. Interestingly, the Coronavirus crisis not only illustrated the need to reinforce the primary care sector in Kyrgyzstan but also the benefits of having this young extra medical workforce available to provide services to the local population. Through the 118 Hotline and their strong involvement in the COVID-19 response, Family Medicine Centers (FMCs) gained much more importance. This explains why the current 118 hotline remained in place, even after the peak of the epidemic in the main FMCs. It also facilitated the development of remote consultations and online patient follow-up. Specific training was provided to FMCs personnel to develop these new communication competencies.

Visio-Conference equipment procurement and distribution

In line with the digital era, MER had planned to provide and distribute several Visio-Conference equipment – a gamble with the time. Luckily, the delivery arrived just before the lockdown was imposed at the end of March. In total, 74 Health facilities across the 7 regions and 3 main training institutions in Bishkek received the necessary IT equipment. This facilitated greatly the communication between Bishkek and the regions during the COVID-19 crisis when everyone was using distance communication tools and no travel was tolerated. It allowed experts to exchange, online training and meetings to be organized and the diffusion of rules and guidelines to the entire network of clinical facilities, particularly ambulatory primary care clinical sites. This crisis accelerated the acceptance and use of distance learning and online interaction of medical professionals and tightened the links between health professionals and the network of medical facilities.

Raising the visibility and the role of nurses as key actors in the health system

The image and the status of nurses remain very low in Kyrgyzstan. This COVID-19 crisis provided an opportunity to highlight the importance of nurses in primary health care. The MER project strongly believes that strengthening nurses' training and increasing their competencies and responsibilities is critical and needs to be translated into reformed regulations and laws. The nurses' professional association (NPA) has become even more proactive during the pandemic, using social media to deliver key messages and recommendations. Thanks to its members' active involvement in all front line prevention and control activities, the nurses deserve to be widely recognized as real “heroes" of epidemic management. Taking advantage of the WHO 2020 Year of Nurses initiative, the MER project focused its communication strategy on the visibility of nurses. Initially, only doctors were visible on the media. MER encouraged the MoH and the communication experts in charge to give greater visibility to the invaluable role of nurses and organized an online forum only for nurses in November 2020 – a huge success, with more than 700 participants from all over the country.

During this crisis, the MER project and its partners have done their best to contribute to the national efforts to control the pandemic. As illustrated above, it also used emerging opportunities to develop or strengthen new areas of activities, which overall will contribute to the reinforcement of primary care. Nurses and medical associations have increased their visibility and new competencies have been developed at ambulatory Family Medicine Centers in the field of communication, particularly in the regions. All these positive outcomes are the result of joint creative efforts made during these critical and very stressful times. We would like to convey our deep gratitude to all partners of the MER project for their invaluable contribution and dedication to the immense efforts made in fighting COVID-19. 


Marina Gioachino & Louis Loutan
Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève;​

Headquarters activities

Since 2000, historic successes have been achieved in the global fight against malaria. In the last decades,7.6 million malaria deaths have been prevented and over 20 countries have been declared malaria-free. Furthermore, a new group of 26 countries has the potential to eliminate malaria by 2025. This shows that a world without malaria could become a reality in just one generation.


Meanwhile, progress in the fight against malaria has stagnated. To ensure access to basic, life-saving prevention, diagnosis and treatment of one of the oldest and deadliest infectious diseases, there is currently a funding gap of around US$2.6 billion annually.


And the COVID-19 crisis threatens to exacerbate this trend: The already fragile health systems of sub-Saharan Africa are facing a double burden of having to combat COVID-19 and endemic diseases at the same time. This continues to jeopardize malaria response and complicates the prevention, early detection and effective treatment of malaria cases.


Actions against the Corona virus must go hand in hand with measures against other diseases. Therefore, on this year's World Malaria Day, we are drawing attention to the need to give high priority to the fight against malaria and the associated political and financial commitment, even in the shadows of the Corona pandemic.


Join us in highlighting these messages on this year's World Malaria Day by sharing content on social media. For more information see or LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.​


Julia Richter 

Swiss Malaria Group​

LinkedIn​ |



SSPH+ Lugano Summer School in Public Health 


 The SSPH+ Lugano Summer School in Public Health Policy, Economics and Management (LSS) turns 30 this year. According to its long-standing tradition, health professionals, researchers and graduate students from low-, middle- and high-income countries will learn together through mutual exchange.

The virtual anniversary edition will offer a broad range of opportunities to participate: Plenary lectures take place in the mornings and evenings, open to the public and free of charge. The program further features 3-day courses, 1-day courses and 1-day equivalent courses (3 days / 2 hours daily). New offers include courses on Public Mental Health, Digital Health and Social Media in Public Health, as well as a short Fragile Health Systems course co-organized by SDC. Both before and during the course week, all participants may make use of extensive technical support to smooth their attendance.

SDC is – in an advisory role – a member of the Steering Committee, providing support for facilitators from low and middle countries as well as scholarships for health professionals. The candidates are currently being pre-selected by the Swiss Cooperation Offices; deadline for applications is April 26, 2021. Health professionals not eligible for a scholarship may enrol as project funded participants, either directly via the LSS website (credit card or bank transfer required) or via a form provided by the LSS scholarship coordinator (payment via invoice). For any questions please do not hesitate to contact the conference office or the SDC scholarship coordinator. General registration will close on August 2.

For more information on the program, please see​

Sibylle Obrecht
Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, SDC – LSS scholarship program coordination
Lin​kedIn​​ |​​