Author Archives: Mikko Perkiö

News: Public and global health students visit Finnish Red Cross logistics centre by Virpi Teinilä and Ella Näsi

Photos: Davaa Baasan

Finnish Red Cross logistics centre is situated in Tampere and it maintains domestic and international ability to help. Organizing international aid requires special knowledge and skills in the areas of material supply, logistics, procurement, technology and health care. Virpi Teinilä, who studies Public and Global Health at the University of Tampere, is one of the health care professionals working for the Finnish Red Cross. She invited her classmates to visit the logistics centre to hear how Red Cross responds to global health challenges and supports communities who face disasters.

Students of public and global health will be equipped with necessary expertise, skills and tools to work in complex emerging public and global health challenges. During their visit to the logistics centre, many examples from recent deployments were given on how this expertise will be needed in the case of natural disasters, conflicts, epidemics and migration. Understanding of health systems, health promotion, epidemiology and climate change are all knowledge areas that Red Cross requires from their international delegates, for example in the role of public health coordinator. The importance of cross sectoral knowledge and understanding global dynamics influencing health were also mentioned in the presentation.

The Finnish Red Cross logistics centre has a showroom with some parts of their field hospital on display. There are also posters with pictures from previous deployments. The PGH students felt that it was very useful to get a comprehensive tour through the logistic centre. Virpi Teinilä explained the principles that guide the co-operation of the different national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. She also provided her fellow students with concrete real-life stories from Haiti, Sierra Leone and other places where Finnish Red Cross has been providing material and professional help.

Finnish Red Cross is known for its strong health care professionals and its ability to send experts in many fields together with material, such as an emergency clinic or a hospital to provide health care to disaster affected communities. At the moment there is an emergency hospital opening in Bangladesh due to a migration crisis. This material and personnel were deployed from Finland together with Norwegian Red Cross. These real case examples will be discussed in the future PGH courses, such as migration and health and health care in disasters.


News: GHD attends the Research Symposium on Mediterranean by Miia Halonen

Get-together of the Symposium

Mediterranee Research symposium on Mediterranean region was organized September 18th in the University of Tampere in purpose to bring together the various research and education activities in Tampere related to the Mediterranean region. Rector Liisa Laakso opened the symposium emphasizing the role of international co-operation in the University’s development.

Director of UNIMED (Mediterranean Universities Union) Dr. Marcello Scalisi gave a key note concentrating on international mobility, networking and co-operation. Scalisi noted that the importance of intercultural networking have been recognized by the EU, as well as both shores of the Mediterranean. He highlighted the role of student mobility and contributions to the modernization and internationalization of higher education. The importance of student mobility and collaboration was echoed in the reflections by the Ambassador of Algeria, H.E. Ms Nawel Settouti and the Kingdom of Morocco H.E Mohammed Ariad.

From the GHD students’ point of view, UNIMED themes relating to migration, sustainable tourism, cultural heritage and food and water systems are interesting research areas. The needs of refugees and migrants constitute a relevant topic also for Global Health and Development researchers and students.

During the day, short presentations were given covering various disciplines. History and its relevance to current research in the Mediterranean region was given a great significance. The day ended with discussion of ways to facilitate and reinforce the Mediterranean University co-operation. The Mediterranean region will be increasingly interesting area for research, but the possibilities are not limited to that. Marco di Donato from UNIMED pointed out that international mobility could improve employment opportunities in the Mediterranean area and he encouraged young people to seek innovative ways to employ themselves in the Mediterranean. The Symposium was innovative and participants shared the spirit of optimisms, as well as the notion of shared responsibility, which is also one of the key values of the University of Tampere.

Blog: UTA is strong in development research by Mikko Perkiö

Picture: Leena Wilkman. Global sociology by professors Ali Qadir and Risto Heiskala. Mikko Perkiö as a panel chair.

We have much more development research at the University of Tampere (UTA) than we tend to think. In our university, development research is not a separate subject, such as Development Studies is in the University of Helsinki, while in UTA, the studies on global development are integrated into several subjects such as education, governance, and even into ICT. Many strong research groups bring a global development perspective to their field. This became evident when the UTA development researchers presented their research in Tampere in April in a seminar featuring leading researchers and experts from twenty European and African countries. During the event, the European Development Research Organization (EADI) held its Executive Committee meeting.

The seminar theme was Global Governance and Responsibility and it was discussed from the perspectives of global sociology, education, innovation and social security. The working groups focused on conflicts and human rights, migration, environment and development relationship, and conditions of global well-being.

In the globally oriented research groups at the University of Tampere, we have a great opportunity to increase our joint efforts and joint applications. There is evidence that consortia beyond the disciplines and sector boundaries produce new information – this successful event proved it.

Blog: TRANSFORM African social protection

Enthusiastic dialogues Photo: Timo Voipio

An ambitious multipartner effort is turning into results in Tanzania where the 1st ever TRANSFORM training was held. The training package supports policy makers and practitioners who design and implement social protection systems in African countries. The EU-SPS programme unit coordinated by THL (National Institute for Health and Wellbeing), particularly Dr. Timo Voipio, has played profound role in bringing multistakeholder forces together, which has enabled this major step forward. The partner portfolio includes professionals from ILO, UNICEF, UNDP and regional expert networks such as SASPEN. Also UTA’s Global Health and Development (GHD) team partners the EU-SPS in building and researching such higher education which could produce solid expertise on social protection in Africa. Dr. Mikko Perkiö, GHD, participated the 5-day training in Dar El Salaam as an observer.

The 5-day course pulled to classroom 25 Tanzanian managers and coordinators who are in charge of social protection in key ministries or in implementing bodies such TASAF, a social assistance programme with over 7 million beneficiaries. Next courses will be Training of trainers and tailor-made versions utilizing the feedback from the pilot course. In future, courses aim to attract participants from many African nations. Furthermore, the African Union (AU) thinks that launching a TRANSFORM course on-line in 2017 is a feasible top priority, which may be contrasted to the AU’s more distant dream to build a railway across the continent from Cairo to Cape Town.

Microsimulation helps governmental decision making Photo: Timo Voipio


Blog: Brain Gain in Somalia By Anneli Milén & Paula Salo

An exciting development co-operation instrument is being applied by the Finnish government.  First and second generation Somali diaspora health professionals trained in Finland or in other Western countries are facilitated to return for 6-24 months to transfer knowledge and skills to local health workers in hospitals, ministries of health, and training institutes around Somalia.

Returnees are ready to sacrifice a lot as they are highly motivated to “help our land”.  But… Are the local health workers so ready to be trained by the ones who had a chance to leave in difficult times?  How could knowledge and skills actually be transferred from one expert to another?  These are traditional questions when Western expatriates have been sent to Africa.  It is any easier and more successful when a trainer and trainee share the culture and language? Or is their culture the same? How about mechanisms required to support learning, such as human resource management?

We started to ask more questions and ended up beginning a study to find out some answers with the ultimate aim to find ways to enhance brain gain in Somalia. Our study aims to shed light on how temporary return of diaspora health professionals can be used as a development modality that has a convincing positive influence on strengthening health systems through skills and knowledge transfer. In December 2016, we travelled to Hargeisa in the north-western part of Somalia, to carry out interviews.


All images © Salo, Milen 2017

In December, when our plane was landing to Hargeisa, the vast dryness was the first thing one could see. Sand everywhere, no trees or water were visible to a human eye. The view from the plane was truly astounding. By now, one could realize that drought is a severe issue challenging all life in this environment. Despite of the dryness, Hargeisa is a lively city with buzzing atmosphere. The street life in Hargeisa is truly diverse. At the same second, you can witness honking cars moving from one place to another, donkeys pulling water canisters, people exchanging piles of Somaliland shillings to dollars at the money market, goats running around, and ladies selling oranges from wheelbarrows.

Although the environment in Hargeisa was definitely different from what we are used to in Finland, our trip was a success. Our time in Hargeisa was filled with warmth and friendly smiles, and we were encountered by such hospitality and helpfulness of the local people. Our local team member, who was a UK trained health expert, had many roles during our trip, which illustrates the complex reality of life in Hargeisa. He was a specialist in an area of health services and at the same time an expert in Somali culture, a driver, a caring father of children suffering from “winter” flu, an expert in on-the-job training, a son of a respected religious scholar with a huge and helpful network including 30 children and 200 grandchildren, a husband of locally trained medical doctor, a certified guard carrying a gun, as it is required to accompany foreigners, and many more.
Without the help of our local team member our trip would have not been as successful!

Now we are all excited to analyse the first data and gain better understanding on how this kind of development strategies, based on brain gain, can be utilized in order to provide the best possible results in strengthening healthcare systems.


BLOG: By Janet Janbek: Vaccine Preventable Infectious Diseases in the Syrian Context

The Zaatari refugee camp near the Jordanian-Syrian border. Available:

The combination of having lived in Jordan for over 20 years and being a passionate public health student, it seemed obvious to me which topic I would cover with research when talking about health care in disaster situations. When the Syrian war first broke out, we could see and feel the consequences first hand in Jordan with a huge influx of Syrian refugees into the country- most directly sensed economically due to a simple equation of having huge numbers of people in a small country with limited recourses. When zooming in on the different dimensions of this crisis, one particular issue catches the eye- the infectious diseases situation, and more specifically the vaccine preventable ones. These include polio, Tuberculosis (TB), cutaneous leishmeiniasis (CL) and measles. The table below shows numbers for the cases of these diseases in Syria and the neighboring countries.

Infectious disease Country and Statistics
Measles Syria: UNICEF reported 594 cases by end of

2014, other sources claim 7000 to 10000 cases

Lebanon: 13% increase.* Jordan: From 24 cases to over 200 in one year.*

TB Syria: 6% new cases and 31% re-treatment cases

Lebanon: 27% increase in cases * Jordan: 22% increase in cases due to Syrian refugees (of the total 40% increase).

CL Syria: More than 41,000 cases in 2013 **

Turkey: 1843 cases in refugee camps in 2014 *

Lebanon: 97% of all cases involve Syrian refugees in 2013

Polio Syria: 7,600 cases.

No new cases from 2015 until April 2016

*Increase in cases is documented to be attributed to the Syrian refugees.

** Syria has been endemic with CL for decades.

Table by Janet Janbek, adapted from (1) and (5).

It is important to note that these statistics are not inclusive of all cases due to a large number of refugees living outside of the camps in poor conditions and have no access to medical care, inability of hosting countries to screen refugees when huge numbers come in within a short period of time and difficulty in detecting cases inside Syria due to the hardships and risks connected with reaching the dangerous areas.

Many factors have contributed to this crisis, these include destruction of health care systems in Syria, interruption infection control and immunization programs, shortage of drugs, sanctions imposed on Syria, huge numbers of Syrians seeking refuge in neighboring countries and Europe who live in camps or outside in unsanitary and crowded conditions, lack of access to water, starvation and unsafe food. Response has been in the form of huge immunization programs in the whole region by international institutions as well as individual neighboring countries. Despite that, the fact that diseases have not yet been eradicated makes this an important topic for response analysis to identify the gap between the responses and needs. Firstly, the mentioned contributing factors remain present with the ongoing war and constant relocation of Syrian refugees challenges surveillance systems and vaccination programs. Secondly, there is no uniformity in screening procedures among hosting countries where health policies differ and are majorly challenged by having to treat individuals with no medical records. Thirdly, international aid has been modest and underfunding is a big challenge especially for hosting countries with limited recourses. In Jordan for example, the cuts on the governmental health provisions have led to big numbers of refugees being denied access to health care services. Lastly, funding sent to Syria continues to be rejected by the government.


Efforts need to be made and recourses allocated by donor countries to support the national agencies and health care systems in hosting countries. It is crucial to point out the importance of keeping documentations of different offered interventions to avoid repetitions and unnecessary usage of resources. This needs to be achieved by the constant collaboration of involved international health organization in plotting interventions and emergency plans for response as well as unifying guidelines for treatments and interventions offered to the hosting countries. Donor countries and international aid agencies need to continue efforts to negotiate with and put pressure on the Syrian government and their allies and ask for access to distant locations that are difficult to reach. Furthermore, European countries and others need to help host more refugees and lift the burden off the current hosting countries which can allow to better carry out surveillance, screening and vaccinations programs. Financial support from international organizations is highly needed to carry out set out programs.


  1. Ozaras R, Leblebicioglu H, Sunbul M, Tabak F, Balkan I, Yemisen M et al. The Syrian conflict and infectious diseases. Expert Review of Anti-infective Therapy [Internet]. 2016 [cited 13 December 2016];14(6):547-555. Available from:
  2. Sharara SKanj S. War and Infectious Diseases: Challenges of the Syrian Civil War. PLoS Pathogens [Internet]. 2014 [cited 1 December 2016];10(11):e1004438. Available from:
  3. Syria crisis: humanitarian situation, needs and response [Internet]. International Committee of the Red Cross. 2016 [cited 13 December 2016]. Available from:
  4. Murthy SChristian M. Infectious Diseases Following Disasters. Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness [Internet]. 2010 [cited 2 December 2016];4(03):232-238.Available from:
  5. Ismail S, Abbara A, Collin S, Orcutt M, Coutts A, Maziak W et al. Communicable disease surveillance and control in the context of conflict and mass displacement in Syria. International Journal of Infectious Diseases [Internet]. 2016 [cited 6 December 2016];47:15-22. Available from:


BLOG: By Annariina Koivu: From Darfur to Liberia – Heidi Isohanni’s lecture on humanitarian emergencies was a success


Ambulance service in a refugee camp in Darfur. Photo: Heidi Isohanni

Global Health & Development was proud to have Heidi Isohanni (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) as a guest speaker. Having worked in various roles from outreach nurse supervisor to Ebola response coordinator in countries like Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Liberia and Tanzania, her guest lecture was a treat for all of us who are interested in humanitarian work and emergency preparedness.

Besides sharing her real-life field experiences, her lecture provided insight what it means to work for an international organization, such as MSF (Doctors without Borders) or Red Cross)

The lecture, which is a part of the course Health and Health Care in Disaster Situations, was received with admiration by the students and staff. Global Health & Development welcomes Heidi back soon. 🙂

BLOG: Panel discussion: Integrating development cooperation and business


Gentle Birds and photo: Petra Heikkilä

Fresh ideas were elicited on the future of Finland’s development cooperation in a panel by Tampere University’s Student Union TAMY as a part of its annual Development Days. Panelists Suvi Virkkunen (Senior Adviser for Development Policy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland), Helena Arlander (Director, Portfolio and Risk Management, Finnfund) and Auli Starck (Policy Advisor for Civil Society and Lobbying, Kepa ry, The Platform for Finland’s Development NGOs) provided multifaceted views on the topic.

Although Finland’s recent budget cuts in development aid, that were as high as 40 %, including cuts from the NGOs of development cooperation, the panelists shared also several positive views.  There is an increased emphasis on the private sector and stronger involvement of its actors within Finland’s development policy. Kepa’s Auli Starck, although still shocked by the budget cuts that came on a short notice, seems open to find ways to serve Kepa’s over 300 member NGOs in collaboration of private sector organisations.

Multi-stakeholder approach is one of today’s catchword in the development policy, also highlighted by Finland. Suvi Virkkunen reminded, however, that Finland’s development aid is still mainly allocated through a large number of separate instruments, which may not best promote collaboration across actors. The concept of the BEAM (Business with impact) programme demonstrates the new way of thinking in encouraging joint proposals by, eg. companies, civil society and research institutes. However, the BEAM serves best highly professional consortiums. Finnfund’s Helena Arlander sees that competitive and sustainable businesses bring jobs and increased incomes which then reflects in wellbeing; education and improved health outcomes.

The new Agenda 2030 requires holistic thinking and emphasizes of the role of all policies in promotion of sustainable development. Trade rules, taxation, human rights, migration should all be analyzed and implemented with various development, climate change and environmental policy objectives. Not an easy task! Currently, official development assistance (ODA) forms no more than 2-10 % of the budget of the some of the low income countries which Finland is bilaterally supporting. So, one day there may be a situation where instead of the development cooperation there is just cooperation. On the other hand, ODA remains crucially important in situations of conflict and fragility, possibly for a long time.

The moderator of the discussion was Dr. Mikko Perkiö from the Global Health and Development, Tampere University. He wrote this report.

TAMY also describes the event.

NEWS: Explore Gender in the Global South and North


Photo: Petra Heikkilä

Participate in the elective course on Gender and Wellbeing (5 ECTS) and be…

– able to apply human rights approach to gender issues

– aware of major issues of demography, sexuality and use of force related to genders

– able to appraise main determinants and global epidemiology of women´s health

– able to analyse social determinants of gender and wellbeing (e.g. poverty and education)

– conscious of various issues and contexts in which culture links to gender and health

HELD: 24 OCT 2016 – 24 NOV 2016 IN ARVO-building at KAUPPI CAMPUS (!!!)


Teaching team: Dr. Filio Degni, Dr. Mikko Perkiö and Prof Anneli Milén

BLOG: Gains from Intersectoral Brainstorm


A new kind of cross-sectoral forum, GainStorm, was held in Tampere Hall on Thursday 15th September. 7-minute talks, conversation and networking took place between members of the business community, the City of Tampere and Tampere’s universities. Nearly 100 took part in the event.

Informal networking forums are important for scientists, business people, engineers and public sector experts and enable them to brainstorm. Having TV-person Simo Frangén as the “moderator” ensured that the event was also fun. These kinds of encounters have longer term effects, according to the “godfather” of the idea, University teacher Mikko Perkiö, from the Programme for Global Health and Development, at the University of Tampere.

The Mayor of Tampere, Anna-Kaisa Ikonen envisions the city as a “Smart City” in which civil servants are more facilitators than producers of services. Tampere as a campus city would be known as a facilitator and testing ground for new innovations such as IT applications and digitalization linked to new urban culture and new forms of community, including the sharing economy.

The business leaders; Aarne Actan, the CEO of Pihlajalinna and independent innovator Jari Pasanen; welcomed the collaboration of academics and researchers and mentioned their concern at how from the business viewpoint, it often takes too long for collaborative results to be utilized. Following on from this, senior expert Oras Tynkkynen from SITRA voiced a need for sectoral boundaries to be more fluid, which would mean freer movement of human resources between academia, business and administration.

On the other hand, students and researchers can provide businesses with critical observations on product development as is the case in the “Demola” project. Professor Jyrki Nummenmaa and Janne Eskola Demola introduced Demola as a platform for developing projects or practices, i.e. creating demos, between students and business or public sectors. The famous Demola, a “made in Tampere” innovation, now operates through 17 offices world-wide. Demola network includes over 600 company partners and over 40 universities.

The most challenging problems, such as global warming require transcending sectoral boundaries. To face future challenges, Oras Tynkkynen introduced new branches of “green business”, many of which relate to practical solutions to everyday needs such a turnkey-version of solar panels. A global perspective offers Tampere-3 University a way to internationalize its research and staff, which is likely to improve its outcome, as outlined by Rector, Liisa Laakso.

The speakers identified concrete global problems and how global partnerships could function optimally. Teacher training, water and sanitation issues along with various social innovations were seen as potentially being the most beneficial collaborations from a low income partner’s angle. Fortunately, the innovative Tampere-3 University will have strong capabilities in these areas. Furthermore, a GainStorm participant Dr. Antti Kasvio published an informative blog on global wellbeing (in Finnish)

The University of Tampere is developing a new profile in Global governance and responsibility, which consolidates and updates its historical mandate as a “grand” school of management, social science and health to global level. It is important that the city of Tampere steadfastly stands by the university and assumes the role of facilitator when needed.