Dear Colleagues,

This week the newsletter’s guest-editorial is written by ITM staff member Dirk Van der Roost, aka ‘the Brazilian’. He’s about to hop on a plane for Rio de Janeiro to attend the Social Determinants of Health conference there and clearly has high expectations.

Next week the 1st WHO World Conference on Social Determinants of Health (SDH) will take place in Rio de Janeiro. Civil society also organizes a number of pre-events in the run-up to the conference. The Conference is part of a broader process that started with the work and report of the WHO Commission on SDH and the 2008 World Health Report on Primary Health Care.

Read the rest of this editorial

Enjoy your reading.

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


Global Health Policy

1.   Lancet –   NCDs: celebrating success, moving forward

Robert Beaglehole et al.; http://www.lancet.com/

In last week’s Lancet, the authors (including Richard Horton) looked back on the NCD summit in New York.

2.  KFF – WHO Says Global TB Cases Decline For First Time Ever But Warns Funding Gap, Resistant Strains Put Progress At risk

http://globalhealth.kff.org/

WHO reported that global TB cases have declined compared with 2005, but warned that “substantial challenges lie ahead, with a projected gap in funding of $1 billion for 2012”.

3.  Lancet – Beyond accountability: learning from large-scale evaluations

Ties Boerma, Isabelle de Zoysa; http://www.lancet.com/
Boerma and de Zoysa capitalize on the release of a major evaluation report of the effectiveness of a large scale HIV prevention programme in India to reflect on the overall need to perform evaluations of large scale programmes despite the challenges these kinds of evaluation typically present. Most of the evidence we have today on the effectiveness of interventions, in any field, is based on small scale pilot projects or retrospective analysis.

4.  WHO Bulletin (online) – Redesigning the AIDS response for long-term impact

Heidi J Larson, Stefano Bertozzi and Peter Piot http://www.who.int/; PDF, open source
This paper outlines four key areas for a re-designed AIDS response based on the deliberations of the aids2031 initiative and on the learning and experience of the first three decades of the epidemic.

Last week, Science Speaks also featured a nice blog post on a presentation in Washington on the new PEPFAR ART Cost Model. It seems to provide good arguments for sustained and even increased AIDS funding. ( good luck with that)

In Global Public Health, Ogden et al. also present some of their findings, showing that more attention should be paid to the social environment of AIDS programmes if one is to achieve results.

5.  Globalization & Health (Debate) – The Growing Caseload of Chronic Life-Long Conditions Calls for a Move towards Full Self-Management in Low Income Countries

Josefien van Olmen, Grace Marie V Ku, Raoul Bermejo, Guy Kegels, Katharina Hermann and Wim Van Damme; http://www.globalizationandhealth.com/content/7/1/38/abstract
A number of our colleagues were involved in this G&H viewpoint, emphasizing that full self-management of patients with chronic life-long conditions is the way to go.

6.  Lancet Correspondence on cervical cancer – letter + reply authors.

http://www.lancet.com/
Jamie Erskine wonders whether cervical cancer should already be a priority in developing countries, given the many other urgent needs and burdens on Health Systems. The authors (Burns et al.) reply: “We will build the “road to successful health delivery systems” on the foundation of easily integrated and highly cost-effective initiatives such as cervical cancer prevention.”

7.  Humanosphere – It’s World Most neglected health problem day

Tom Paulson; http://humanosphere.kplu.org/
Earlier this week was World Mental Health day. Tom Paulson adequately notes mental health still remains a very low priority on the global health agenda. We agree it’s indeed a shocking gap.

8.   Global Health Europe – Summary of the Global Health Europe Workshop at the European Health Forum, Gastein

http://www.globalhealtheurope.org/
The Global Health Europe website provides a summary of the recent global health Europe workshop at the European Health Forum, in Gastein, Austria. Special focus was the WHO reform.

Meanwhile, rival think tank CGD set up shop in Europe. Owen Barder was unveiled as CGD’s new “Mr. Europe”. (Guess we indeed need a few more like him, in the current environment.)  Owen started off fiercely with a tweet about an Action aid campaign that highlights how many UK multinationals use ‘tax havens’.  Virtually all of them, it appears.

9.   Guardian – Europe to focus on democracy and human rights in aid projects

http://www.guardian.co.uk/
Andris Piebalgs, European Union commissioner, says economic development can’t be sustainable unless human rights, democracy and good governance are at its forefront. (we reckon the same is true for the European heartland).

In a WB blog by Adam Wagstaff on UHC, hereflects on the current push for universal coverage. He argues that evidence is scarce that UC policies have had an impact, in terms of reducing catastrophic health expenditure or in terms of reducing in-country inequity in access to care. He reiterates his view that the challenge is really about narrowing inequalities in coverage and that the best way might turn out not to be UC policies. Food for thought.

Global Health Financing

10.   GFO (new issue) – The Report of the High-Level Panel – Strong and Thought-Provoking, but with Worrying Flaws

Aidspan; http://www.aidspan.org/issue=160&article=1
Rivers, Mc Coy and Garmaise give their view of the report by the high level panel. They are about as candid as the High-level panel evaluators. They see good things, bad stuff and a few flawed recommendations in there. You can find more comments on this report in the latest edition of the GF observer.

This introspective effort has been appreciated by the European Commission, it seems, although money will only follow later this year (if it does).

The turmoil over EU finances represents a significant threat to global health funding but some are nevertheless looking for ways forward. France, for example, is willing to target (even more) the tobacco industry to raise cash for global health. In line with UNITAID mechanisms, or “vintage” Margaret Chan policies, who knows.

On the Action for Global Health blog, Rachel Lander is considering the way activists should engage with a conservative government (the Spanish in this case) to optimize investments in Global Health despite a clearly reduced fiscal space. In the US, while the protests on Wall Street risk dismantling by the police despite global support, Share/wheel, an American organisation run by and advocating for homeless people, set up a camp in front of Gates’ compound in Seattle, to ask for more support for local people crushed by the capitalist model that has made him so rich. Tom Paulson mitigates the criticism. But this sort of debate is popping up everywhere in the world, and there’s some truth to it. Last year, Foxconn workers asked the same question to Jobs.  He never really answered that one.

11.   MLI – Bangura: “Developing countries are helping us out”

John Donnelly; http://www.ministerial-leadership.org/
John Donnelly reports on an innovative South-South collaboration where Cuban health workers come to support Sierra Leone’s health system with South African money and Nigerian doctors are flying in to lend a hand. This occurs in a country that is trying to sustain its free care policy amid a major shortage of human resources in the health sector.

Drugs

12.   Globalization and Health (Debate) – A win-win solution?: A critical analysis of tiered pricing to improve access to medicines in developing countries

Suerie Moon, Elodie Jambert, Michelle Childs and Tido von Schoen-Angerer ; http://www.globalizationandhealth.com/content/7/1/39/abstract
Moon et al. are fairly critical of tiered pricing as a way to improve access to medicines in developing countries. They instead plead for alternate strategies that harness the power of competition, avoid arbitrary market segmentation, and/or recognize government responsibilities. Competition should generally be the default option for achieving affordability.

KFF reported that India’s Aurobindo Pharma has become the first major generic drugmaker to join UNITAID’s medicines patent pool. And the BBC had an important story on the way Indian technology (bar codes and the like) can overcome the threat of counterfeit drugs.

Development & Aid

13.   The Broker (new issue)

http://www.thebrokeronline.eu/pdf
Excellent new issue of the Broker, with articles on the new multilateral responsabilities of China, an assessment of budget support, and more.  The Broker also had a nice article on Chinese aid and the aid effectiveness agenda on the Busan blog.

As usual, Global Dashboard also featured a few interesting posts: for example on the FTT debate (by Claire Melamed), and one on ‘catalytic aid’  (the ‘next big thing’ in the development community?) , by Andy Sumner.

To wrap up, you might want to have a look at ‘Tales from the Hood’, for a few characteristically chilling posts on the humanitarian world and what it can do to you, as well as on the mess in the Horn of Africa. (you might want to have a glass of whisky afterwards).

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