Dear Colleagues,  

It’s money time in the Euro zone and beyond, so it’s only natural that hectic world leaders  summits focus on the euro mess these days. Nevertheless, NGOs still have a whole list of wishes for this weekend’s G8 meeting in Camp David in the US, with food security topping the list. Let’s see whether there will be time for that, now that everybody seems to be clamouring for growth. (for the latest on the G8, see this Guardian article, announcing an Obama pledge of 3 billion in private aid funding). 

Our readers are probably well aware that the 65th World Health Assembly takes place in Geneva next week. We will already pay some attention to the WHA agenda in this week’s newsletter. In the guest-editorial, though, Mabel Carabali, Emerging Voice from Columbia, reflects on her stay in Cape Town, where she attended Forum 2012 last month. 

Enjoy your reading.

David Hercot, Kristof Decoster, Ildikó Bokros, Basile Keugoung & Wim Van Damme




Beyond aid … the adventure through Cape Town


Mabel Carabali, Emerging Voice 2010 from Colombia

With the prospect of being included in the next generation of ‘change makers’ in the discussions at Forum 2012 and with the aim to create a long-standing global youth network, some Emerging Voices and members of Youth in Motion gathered in Cape Town, South Africa during the last week of April.

Read the rest of the editorial here




1. Health, Culture & Society – “I Wish I Had AIDS”: A qualitative study on access to health care services for HIV/AIDS and diabetic patients in Cambodia

Chean Men et al.;

HC&S just published this (much anticipated) qualitative study by our Cambodian colleague Chean Rithy Men.  Financially stricken Cambodian patients with diabetes and HIV/AIDS typically encounter multiple, serious barriers to effective care. Yet, supply-side barriers are higher for diabetic patients, to the extent that some of them ‘wished they had AIDS’.


2. WHO – World Health statistics 2012

Chean will have been pleased to see that the growing problem of the noncommunicable diseases burden is the focus of this year’s World health statistics report. The annual report also includes summaries on the topics of universal health coverage and civil registration coverage. Ahead of the World Health Report, Reuters had an interesting interview with Ties Boerma, WHO’s director of health statistics and information systems.


Humanosphere’s Tom Paulson thinks the WHO report also highlights the lack of a clear global health strategy. (ask the Europeans for one, their cool-headed president still finds the time to write haikus)


3. Lancet (editorial) – Chronic disease management in ageing populations

The Lancet editorial zooms in on “Shades of gray: a cross-country study of health and well-being of the old populations in SAGE countries, 2007—2011”, jointly published on May 9 by the US Census Bureau and WHO. The report focuses on six countries—China, Ghana, India, Mexico, Russia, and South Africa—which hosted 42% of the world’s 1·4 billion people aged 50 years and older in 2010. Needless to say, the report concludes that chronic diseases are the leading cause of mortality in older people in these countries.


The Lancet also published the Comment by De Maeseneer et al. – “Tackling NCDs: a different approach is needed”, in which they argue that integrated primary care is the key to tackling NCDs. The Comment was already published online last year; this week’s Lancet issue features a few interesting letters on the issue – with Beaglehole & our Belgian colleague De Maeseneer in the key roles.


HIV/AIDS, PEPFAR & Global Fund


4. GFO (issue 184)

At its meeting in Geneva on 10-11 May, the GF Board said that the Fund will “open new funding opportunities” in late September 2012, and that the Board will start making funding decisions no later than the end of April 2013. This GFO issue also gives an overview of the key decisions made at the Board meeting.


5. Lancet (early online) – Antiretroviral prophylaxis for HIV prevention reaches a key milestone

Salim S Abdool Karim et al.;

Karim et al. comment on the recent vote by a US Food and Drug Administration advisory committee in support of the use of tenofovir-emtricitabine for HIV prevention. If the FDA adopts the committee’s recommendations, tenofovir-emtricitabine will become the first antiretroviral drug to be approved as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for the prevention of HIV, paving the way for implementation. In this Comment, Karim et al. address some of the criticisms and concerns about PrEP.


6. JAMA – HIV Development Assistance and Adult Mortality in Africa

Eran Bendavid et al.

The lives of more than 740,000 people in nine African countries were saved between 2004 and 2008 by PEPFAR, according to a study conducted by Stanford University School of Medicine researchers.

In related news, on Wednesday The House Appropriations Committee voted on its fiscal year 2013 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill and released a report that clarifies its funding intentions for key global health programs. The bill includes $5.542 billion for global AIDS funding through the State Department, and the report specifies $4.243 billion to support PEPFAR and $1.3 billion for the Global Fund.


On Monday, the GBC Health conference took place in New York. Global Post reports on a session titled ‘AIDS at 30’, with comments made by Eric Goosby and Michel Sidibe on how to get to an AIDS-free generation.


World Health Assembly


7. Plos – A New Deal for Global Health R&D? The Recommendations of the Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development (CEWG)

John-Arne Røttingen and Claudia Chamas;

John-Arne Røttingen and Claudia Chamas, chairs of the the Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development (CEWG), summarize their recent report recommending to the World Health Assembly that a global health R&D convention be developed.


Stiglitz already dedicated a Project Syndicate op-ed to this news.


8. Nature news (blog) – Global vaccine plan draws criticism

Amy Maxmen;

In a report released on Tuesday, in the run-up to the 65th WHA, MSF said a new $10 billion global vaccination plan “fails to address the 20 percent of babies — some 19 million infants — who never receive basic, life-saving shots,” and that, “rather than pushing for novel vaccines, the plan should focus more concretely on strategies to get existing vaccines to children.” Tom Paulson also adresses the MSF criticism of the Gates backed global vaccine strategy.


9.   BMJ (blog) – Amanda Glassman on the difficult task of setting priorities at the WHO

Amanda Glassman;

CGD’s Amanda Glassman contemplates the difficult task of setting priorities at the WHO.


10.   Lancet (Review) – Scaling up interventions to achieve global tuberculosis control: progress and new developments

Mario Raviglione et al.;

The authors of this review article argue that despite growing TB funding in recent years, a serious shortfall persists. International and national financial uncertainty places gains at serious risk. Perseverance and renewed commitment are needed to achieve global control of TB, and ultimately, its elimination.


WHO says we risk losing the fight against TB, according to an Independent  article (that also features quotes by Raviglione, director of the WHO’s Stop TB campaign).


A historic resolution by the WHO will declare polio a global health emergency in the upcoming WHA, the Times of India reports.

Follow next week’s @WHO #WorldHealthAssembly via #WHA65




We already paid some attention to drugs, see the Plos article on a Global Health R&D convention above. But there was more this week.


11.   Lancet (World Report) – Skies darken over drug companies

David Holmes;

With a perfect storm of patent expirations, poor development pipelines, and pressures on drug pricing, is the party over for an industry once considered recession-proof? David Holmes reports.


12.   PLOS (essay) – Innovation and Access to Medicines for Neglected Populations: Could a Treaty Address a Broken Pharmaceutical R&D System?

Suerie Moon et al.;

As part of a cluster of articles leading up to the 2012 World Health Report and critically reflecting on the theme of “no health without research,” Suerie Moon and colleagues argue for a global health R&D treaty to improve innovation in new medicines and strengthening affordability, sustainable financing, efficiency in innovation, and equitable health-centered governance.


13.   CFR – Ensuring the Safety and Integrity of the World’s Drug, Vaccine, and Medicines Supply – Policy Innovation Memorandum No. 21

Laurie Garrett;

The world is facing two immediate health crises concerning drugs and vaccines: affordable and reliable access to life-sparing medicines and the safety and reliability of those medicines. (For the people with a bit more time, Laurie Garrett also elaborates on this in three blog posts on her blog.)


14.   Foreign Affairs – Dangerous doses

Tim K. Mackey et al.;

As much as 15 % of the medicine in circulation is counterfeit. Mackey et al. argue the UN, WHO and Interpol should start treating this issue – selling counterfeit medicine – as a crime.


Health Policy & Financing


15.   WHO, UNFPA, UNICEF & WB estimates – Trends in maternal mortality 1990 – 2010

The number of women dying of pregnancy- and childbirth-related complications has almost halved in 20 years, according to new estimates released on Wednesday.  The report shows that from 1990 to 2010, the annual number of maternal deaths dropped from more than 543,000 to 287,000 — a decline of 47 percent. SSA is still lagging behind, though.


16.   Action for Global Health – Financial Transaction Tax Global Week of Action

Activists in over 30 countries pile pressure on Governments to back a Robin Hood Tax as leaders converge at international summits. Campaigners are uniting during 15-22 May for a Global Week of Action to pressure their governments to back a FTT. The co-ordinated action is timed to coincide with G8 leaders meeting in Camp David (May 18-19) and a meeting of European leaders (23 May) where the FTT is on the agenda.


Unfortunately, this does not seem the right time for such a campaign week. (and we probably first need to vote the leaders out who are too much linked to the financial sector, anyway). Nevertheless, imagine what you could do with the money raised by such a tax. Slate has an interesting article on the Copenhagen Consensus 2012 project: Lomborg asked a panel of five top economists the following question: if you had $75 billion to spend over the next four years and your goal was to advance human welfare, especially in the developing world, how could you get the most value for your money? (It’s an interesting list, especially for global health people.)


17.   Lancet (Comment) – Paying for health care: moving beyond the user-fee debate

Davidson R. Gwatkin;

Gwatkin comments on a new Lancet study by Anne Mills et al. on inequalities in receiving and paying for health services in three countries: Ghana, South Africa, and Tanzania. Gwatkin argues that the study’s findings support the argument for movement beyond the debate on user fees, to produce much broader overall strategies for health-resource mobilisation that are as progressive as possible.


18.   CGD – The Health Aid Fungibility Debate: Don’t Believe Either Side

David Roodman;

This week some more people commented on health aid fungibility, after the Plos article from last week. CGD’s Roodman did so, and so did Sanjay Basu in a neat Epi-analysis blog post.


We also want to draw your attention to a World Bank blog post on the Lancet article on Sach’s Millenium villages (and their impact on child mortality) from last week. The blogger does not exactly mince words.


19.   Nature – Malaria surge feared – The WHO releases action plan to tackle the spread of insecticide-resistant mosquitoes.

Amy Maxmen;

The WHO releases an action plan to tackle the spread of insecticide-resistant mosquitoes.


20.   Global Health Europe (Working paper) – Global Health Governance and Financing Mechanisms

Samantha Battams et al.;

The 2011 World Health Summit’s session on “Governance for Health in the 21st Century” focused on the debate on stakeholder engagement in global health governance and health financing mechanisms through two forums, entitled “Democratising Global Health” and “Innovative Financing Models and Governance Principles”. The summit sessions resulted in a series of key messages on global health governance and financing which form the basis of this report.


21. – Business leaders join forces to meet global health goals

Jan Piotrowski;

The MDG Health Alliance, an innovative new private sector organization created and led by eminent business leaders to tackle urgent global health problems, was introduced at the GBC Health conference on Monday. According to the press release, “The MDGHealth Alliance announced several bold initiatives, including a multi-company partnership in India to scale up supply and distribution of zinc and oral rehydration solution (ORS) to save child lives from diarrhea, the second biggest killer of young children, and a study that shows that digital technology can reduce by 75 percent the costs of training community health workers, who provide crucial health services in developing countries“.




22.   Health, Culture & Society – The Health System Dynamics Framework: The introduction of an analytical model for health system analysis and its application to two case-studies

J Van Olmen et al.;

The Van Olmen Health Systems Framework is explained, and applied to two case studies.


ITM news & Emerging Voices


Our colleagues just launched a new website, Global Health Observer. It’s meant to be a website on Global Health Initiatives in Africa, and is related to the INCO/GHI project. A first blog post gives some information on the consortium session, scheduled at the Beijing HSR symposium in November. Stay tuned for more info in the coming weeks and months!


23.   BMC Public Health (Debate) – Pathways to catastrophic health expenditure for acute coronary syndrome in Kerala: Good health at low cost?

Meena Daivadanam;

This viewpoint (by Indian Emerging Voice Meena Daivadanam) describes the many pathways to catastrophic health expenditure for patients with Acute Coronary Syndrome based on two case studies and the thematic analysis of field notes regarding 210 patients and their households from a study based in Kerala, India. (You can expect a guest-editorial in the coming weeks from her, if all goes well.)


Development & Aid


24.   Getting to Zero: Finishing the Job the MDGs Started

This paper was prepared by several members of the Global Agenda Council on Benchmarking Progress, convened by the World Economic Forum. “It is time to start preparing the ground for new goals to mark the sustainable end of extreme poverty – a vision of “getting to zero” within a generation, i.e., by 2030.” This paper aims to feed into high-level policy discussions that will take shape in the coming months. Many of the related challenges will be discussed at the 2012 “Rio+20” summit in Brazil.


Meanwhile, many ngo’s are quite pessimistic about the Rio+20 preparations. (so are we: it looks as if Rio+ 20 will take place in the midst of yet another round of Euro turmoil)


25.   IDS – Human Security and the Next Generation of Comprehensive Human Development Goals

Koehler G. et al.;

This paper makes a case for extending the MDGs beyond 2015 but significantly reshaping them, so that economic and social equity and environmental sustainability are prioritised. The paper proposes using the notion of human security to develop a new post 2015 development framework.


26.   ODI – The Future of EU budget support – political conditions, differentiation and coordination

Jörg Faust, Svea Koch, Nadia Molenaers, Heidi Tavakoli and Jan Vanheukelom;

At the end of 2011 the European Commission published a Communication on the future of EU budget support. It recommended that budget support be tied to the political conditions in recipient countries, particularly those related to human rights and democratic values. The European Think-Tanks Group, in collaboration with the Institute of Development and Policy Management, look at the implications of this new approach on EU development assistance.


Finally, some interesting articles and blog posts:

  • Justin Yifu Lin on the (old and recent) development debate (on the WB blog ‘Let’s talk Development’), and more in particular his own views
  • An open letter to the co-chairs of the UN high level panel on the post-2015 agenda, on Global Dashboard
  • An ODI blog post and a Guardian article on the 2012 European report on Development.
  • A Guardian article on the still extremely high debt of the developing world (wait till the Euro zone countries join the club)

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