Dear Colleagues,

 This week we have a guest editorial from Vincent Okungu, Emerging Voice from Kenya, on the diabetes challenge in sub-Saharan Africa.

I left my work station and travelled about 700km to collect data in a fairly economically endowed village (by Kenyan standards). This was my latest field research looking at financial protection for the informal sector in Kenya. My destination was a little urban centre- Karatina in Central Kenya. The town is busy, lively, dusty/muddy and reportedly crime-ridden.

Read the rest of this editorial

Enjoy your reading.

David Hercot, Kristof Decoster, Josefien Van Olmen, Basile Keugong & Wim Van Damme


1.   Lancet (Comment) – Global control of diabetes: information for action

Martin Tobias;

This week, the Lancet (online) released a series of articles on diabetes. The Global Burden of Metabolic Risk Factors of Chronic Diseases Collaborating Group presented evidence that strongly supports a five year-old UN resolution on the rising diabetes threat for the world. Martin Tobias emphasizes that these new findings reinforce the need to strengthen worldwide diabetes surveillance.

2.   BMJ (Analysis) – Global response to non-communicable disease

UnitedHealth, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Centers of Excellence;

The forthcoming UN meeting on NCDs is an important opportunity for promoting global action on conditions that have been neglected. A network of researchers from low and middle income countries describes what is needed. 

In related news, the Global Health Council NCD Roundtable facilitated a letter, signed by 93 organizations, representing NGOs, academia and the private sector that calls on President Obama to attend the High Level Meeting in New York. (as for Belgium, by then, with a little bit of luck, we might have the obese Bart De Wever in charge, who epitomizes the need for urgent action).

3.   WHO Bulletin – Expectations for the United Nations high-level meeting on noncommunicable diseases

Devi Sridhar et al.;

Sridhar et al. reckon that member states should address five elements at the upcoming UN High-level meeting on NCDs.


4.   Lancet  – Group B streptococcal vaccine for resource-poor countries

Stephanie J. Schrag;

The author argues in favor of accelerated development of vaccines against group B streptococcus, to be used for maternal immunization.

5.   Plos Neglected Diseases (editorial) – Unleashing “Civilian Power”: A New American Diplomacy through Neglected Tropical Disease Control, Elimination, Research, and Development

Peter J. Hotez;

In an editorial for Plos Neglected Tropical Diseases, Peter Hotez has some suggestions for Hilary Clinton and the GHI.

In another article, Hotez also lays out a research agenda for the GHI, whereby 1-2 % of the Funds of the Initiative would be allocated to conducting R&D for neglected tropical diseases drugs, vaccines and diagnostics. And in a policy platform in the same journal, a bunch of authors advocate for a different approach in the research and capacity building for control of NTDs. 

In its new issue, WHO Bulletin also has an article on dengue vaccine roll-out. (Somewhat early, one could say.)

6.Al Jazeera (Opinion) – The great billion dollar drug scam

Khadija Sharife;

Last week, we had CGD’s Owen Barder on vaccines, this week we listen to another voice. This piece is part one of a two-part series by an investigative journalist who examined the methods used by multinational drug corporations to control markets and lives.

On the Humanosphere blog, Tom Paulson already commented on the article.

7.International Journal for Equity in Health – Global challenges of implementing human papillomavirus vaccines

Janice E. Graham & Amrita Mishra;

The authors emphasize global challenges of implementing human papillomavirus vaccines, for example in terms of equity.

Some other vaccine news:

In his weekly column in Foreign Policy, Charles Kenny emphasizes the demand side of vaccination (getting more parents to vaccinate their kids). The long-term answer to raising vaccination levels worldwide is to spread knowledge of their safety and efficacy. … In the meantime, providing direct incentives to people to get their kids vaccinated are likely to have a more immediate impact on changing behavior”.

And CFR features aconversation with Seth Berkley on the future of vaccines and global health.

Health Policy & financing

8.   Lancet – A new era for global tuberculosis control?

A Lancet editorial stresses that an (organizational) status quo in tuberculosis control is unacceptable.

9.   Lancet (Letter) – Don’t forget family planning

Duff Gillespie;

Gillespie argues that the absence of contraceptives on the “first ever priority medicines list” to save the lives of mothers and children, is a shocking and irresponsible omission. Contraception is a proven, cost-effective way to reduce mortality substantially.

In related news, two blog articles on the Global Health blog examine family planning in West-Africa. “Family planning may be one of the best bargains in the world when it comes to investments in health.”

10.   Lancet (Letter) – The importance of climate change to health

S. Singh et al.;

Delegates at the Cancun meeting on climate change acknowledged that human health should be an important factor in the negotiations, yet they also mentioned that health is currently not important to the process. The authors of this letter emphasize that health professionals need to improve the communication of the health effects of climate change and the health and economic benefits of emission reductions to the general public and to policy makers.

Globalization and Health already seems to heed this advice. This week the journal published an article on the economics of health and climate change.

11.   GFO – A “Strategic Revolution” in HIV and Global Health?

David McCoy;

Responding to an article in The Lancet on a “strategic revolution in HIV and global health,” David McCoy writes that the article “somewhat missed the mark in describing what that revolution should consist of and how it could be brought about…. Perhaps we need to be more ambitious and imaginative in proposing a real revolution in HIV and global health – one that would result in global health institutions that are less competitive with each other and more responsive to the particular needs and contexts of lower income countries.”

The new GFO issue also has an article summarizing the actions taken by the Global Fund to deal with the misuse of grant funds – as laid out in the report “Results with Integrity: the Global Fund’s Response to Fraud”.

12.   Health Planning & Management – People’s policies for the health of the poor globally

Veloshnee Govender, Gavin Mooney;

The authors argue that the dominant role played by governments of the developed countries in global health policies is a critical but often ignored factor in contributing to the lack of progress in global health. The solution to this challenge lies in efforts to ‘democratise’ global decision making and to argue for a greater say of the poor globally in policies affecting them. (sounds like a piece of good advice for Christine Lagarde)

13.   Plos – Scaling Up Global Health Interventions: A Proposed Framework for Success

Gavin Yamey;

Drawing upon interviews with experts and a review of the literature, Gavin Yamey proposes a new framework for scaling up global health interventions.

14.   BMJ (news) – Development of 50 malaria drugs is under threat unless funding expands

Guy Rughani;

Spending on malaria research and development increased fivefold in the 16 years to 2009, the independent non-profit research group, Policy Cures, has found. You find the report here. Rughani sketches the debate. Elsewhere, Sarah Boseley and also commented on the findings.

15.   WHO Bulletin – Health is more than influenza

Luc Bonneux, Wim Van Damme;

Commenting on the way WHO handled recent pandemic crises, Bonneux and Van Damme have a recommendation for WHO – they argue the organization should learn to be NICE. (The way WHO managed the pandemic flu probably explains to some extent the current financial troubles of the organization.)

Some other reports or articles that caught our attention:

·         A CSISreport on the US defense department’s enduring contributions to global health  ( sounds a bit funny, we agree)

·         The US Centers for Disease control and prevention listed  the ten great public health achievements worldwide, for the period 2001-2010

·         A article wonders whether ethics are left behind in the race for drug trials in the South.

·         A KFF report that assesses the GHI Plus Country strategies in terms of women, girls and gender equality.

Global Health Research

Some recent reports and articles you might want to read:

  • One million community health workers.” In response to widespread recognition of the need to scale up community health workers as a part of primary health systems in sub-Saharan Africa, this technical report was prepared to consolidate scientific and implementation experience in a series of recommendations and guidelines.  Development of this report was a collaborative effort with input from scientific experts, led by the Earth Institute at Columbia University in support of the United Nations objectives to achieve the MDGs.
  • BMC Public Health – “Global Challenges with Scale-Up of the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness Strategy: Results of a Multi-country Survey”
  • International Journal for Equity in Health  – “Who pays for health care in Ghana?” This paper presents the first comprehensive analysis of the distribution of health care financing in relation to ability to pay for an African country, in casu Ghana. How progressive is health care financing in Ghana?

Development & Aid

16.   AFGH – EU tax on financial transactions must go towards health and development, says AfGH[tt_news]=567&cHash=dde72d9388bafc8cbde0bd00e37db421

In the entity formerly known as the ‘European Union”, the Greeks got all the attention, this week, but on 29 June, the European Commission also presented its proposals for the 2014-2020 budget, setting out the possibility for the bloc to raise its own resources through the implementation of a financial transaction tax. The multi-annual financial framework proposed this week sets out the EU’s spending priorities until 2020. AFGH reflects on a number of issues.

EG4Health also already commented, stressing two points:

1. The EU has, to date, suggested that the revenue of the tax will be spent mainly in Europe. Civil society has to put pressure on the EU to spend only 50% of this extra money at home, leaving 25% to be spent on international development and 25% on climate change.

2. The EU Commission suggests that the tax will become law only in 2018. There is little reason for this delay, and there is the threat that the next commission in 2018 will scrap the idea. Civil society has to put pressure on the EU to impose the tax quicker.”

Some other publications or articles on development/aid you should probably read:

  • ODI – The EU’s Multi-Annual Financial Framework post-2013: Options for EU development cooperation – Coinciding with the beginning of negotiations around Europe’s multi-annual financial framework (MFF), this paper analyses the changing development landscape, and sets out a series of recommendations for European aid mechanisms, post-2013.
  • The new issue of the Broker (and the updated website), with, among others, an article on Brazil and one on the need for a more inclusive global economy
  • Trust alert had a piece on the need for an exit strategy for climate finance – an issue that must sound familiar in global health circles (see the “sustainability” debate ) 
  • Speaking of sustainability, Jonathan Glennie wrote this article for the Guardian, on the way Uganda uses aid to improve domestic tax collection 

And finally, Nature News examined African countries’ scientific capacity and efforts in a series of articles. Nigeria stands out. But then again, Nigerians always stand out


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