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Dear Colleagues,

This week’s guest editor and Emerging Voice Omesh Kumar Bharti gives an Indian perspective on the Rio summit on social determinants of health.  


As David Sanders mentioned in last week’s guest-editorial, the Rio Political declaration on Social Determinants of Health was adopted during the World Conference on Social Determinants of Health on 21 October 2011. The declaration expresses global political commitment for the implementation of a social determinants of health approach to reduce health inequities and to achieve other global priorities.

Read the rest of this editorial

Enjoy your reading.

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

WHO reform

1. Third World Network – WHO: Members opt for modest reform and request more work

Governments at the WHO have agreed on a modest reform package for the organisation, asked the Secretariat for more information and analysis to be done, and decided on an independent evaluation. The Special Session of the WHO Executive Board, which met from 1-3 November at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, declined to fully accept the reform proposals contained in the Director-General’s Report titled “WHO Reform for a Healthy Future”.

Decisions on the three areas –  programmes and priority-setting, governance and managerial reforms – can be seen as an attempt by member states to regain control of, and set brakes on, the reform process, which has been pushed at an unprecedented speed by Margaret Chan.

In related news, Rhona Mc Donald wonders in a Plos blog post what is now the truth about the current WHO predicament.

2. Lancet – Health 2020: WHO’s missing link?

Robert Walgate;

WHO’s European office is making progress with its innovative new strategy to tackle the region’s health problems. But will member states and the rest of WHO take note? Robert Walgate reports.

Well, WHO probably should take note; Richard Horton is quite pessimistic about the role it can play in the global NCD action, for example. “The stark reality is that WHO may no longer be in a position to sustain a global movement for NCDs…”

Global Fund

3. Lancet online (Correspondence) – One more reason to fund the Global Fund

Oliver Sabot, Shanelle Hall;

In addition to the five reasons given in an earlier Lancet editorial, the authors emphasize another compelling reason to further support the Global Fund: the organisation accelerates the availability of better health products at better prices to developing countries, generating a global public good that maximises the value for money achieved by all global health donors.

4. Lancet – The Global Fund – getting the reforms right

Richard GA Feachem;

The founding executive director of the GF comments on the High-Level panel recommendations. “While the six recommendations are valuable, the report does not provide direction or solutions on certain critical issues that will define the further success and impact of the Global Fund.”  Feachem sees three omissions.


5. CGD – Are We Ready to Set Priorities for an AIDS-Free Generation?

Amanda Glassman;

Glassman comments on a USAID and World Bank sponsored debate on “Treatment as Prevention,” where debaters were asked to support or oppose the proposition that countries should spend the majority of flat or declining HIV prevention budgets on “treatment as prevention”.

6. Plus news – HIV/AIDS: Clinton sets out new US focus

Hillary Clinton’s speech may shape the next several years of US global health programming and funding, analysts say. The American government now prioritizes creating an AIDS-free generation, at least in its official rhetoric. Some women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health advocates are concerned that these new priorities sideline reproductive rights. Clinton did not specifically discuss family planning or access to safe abortions.

Before her speech, Clinton was no doubt briefed on the September Recommendations from the PEPFAR Scientific advisory board to accelerate the scale-up of HIV treatment.

In other HIV news, IAVI published a policy brief on the HIV Vaccine Funding landscape in 2010.

Health Policy and Financing

7. Financing Health in Africa – le Blog

We would like to draw your attention to this brand new blog in which some of our colleagues are involved. They’re quite ambitious: “This blog has one goal: to become the reference point for discussions on health financing in Africa.” Now that’s the spirit.

The first blog post (an interview on Morocco) is in French only. Contributions in English will follow later this week. We’ll keep you posted on this blog.

8. Global Health Europe – Key messages from the World Health Summit sessions ‘Governance for health in the 21st  Century – Democratising Global Health and Innovative Financing Mechanisms and Governance Principles’

S. Battams;

Global Health Europe hosted two working sessions at the World Health Summit in Berlin which focused on ways to increase global health democracy for better health outcomes, through improved systems and processes for global health governance and innovative financing strategies. This document provides some key messages across both of the ‘Democratising global health’ and ‘Innovative financing mechanisms’ governance sessions.

9. Health, Culture and Society – the production of critical theories in Health systems research and education

Jean-Pierre Unger et al.;

This paper by some of our colleagues aims at offering alternative methodological perspectives in health systems research, to produce critical, theoretical knowledge in domains such as health policy and management of health care, organization of disease control, political economy of health and medical practice. The authors first examined the reasons to believe that worldwide economic agents have driven publicly funded schools of public health to adopt their preferred policies and to orient their priority research topics. They then studied whether this hidden leadership has also contributed to shape research methodologies.

10.   Health Diplomacy Monitor – November issue

Excellent new (November) issue from Health Diplomacy Monitor, a monthly digest.

11.   Canadian Academy of Health Sciences – Canadians Making a Difference : The Expert Panel on Canada’s Strategic Role in Global Health

The Canadian Academy of Health Sciences has released a report entitled “Canadians Making a Difference: The Expert Panel on Canada’s Strategic Role in Global Health.” This report is based on a year-long evidence-based assessment process that was completed earlier this year. The report identifies five roles in which there is an opportunity for Canada to have significant global impact including: Indigenous and Circumpolar Health Research, Population and Public Health, Community-Oriented Primary Healthcare, smart Partnerships in Education and Research, Global health innovation.

You can comment on the Facebook page of the report.

12.   International Journal for equity in health –   Constraints to universal coverage: Inequities in health service use and expenditures for different health conditions and providers

Obinna Onwujekwe, Chima Onoka, Benjamin Uzochukwu and Kara Hanson;

This paper contributes additional knowledge about health seeking and economic burden of different health conditions. It also shows the level of healthcare payments in public and private sector and their distribution across socioeconomic and geographic population groups.

13.   International Journal for equity in health – Social health assistance schemes: the case of Medical Financial Assistance for the rural poor in four counties of China

Xiao Ma et al;

The authors explore Medical Financial Assistance in four rural Chinese counties. The authors stress the MFA scheme needs to be improved further if it is to work fully for poor rural people with major illness. Some ideas on how to improve MFA are put forward for future policy making.

Another recent article on Chinese health insurance was published this week, in the International Journal of Health planning and management. The authors present the development of the rural and urban health insurance programs, their modes of financing and operation and the benefits and reimbursement schemes at the end of 2009.

14.   BMJ (news) – US Supreme Court to decide whether health reform law is constitutional

We already had some news on China. Over to the US: the US Supreme Court agreed this week to decide whether President Barack Obama’s health reform act, passed in March 2010, is constitutional.

A New York Times analysis zooms in on Obama’s rather awkward position in this debate: he now has to defend a stance opposite to what he said in the 2008 primaries.

(Shouldn’t be much of a problem, we reckon. If Mitt Romney can pull off this sort of thing, then why not Obama? )

15.   Sarah Boseley – Green light from Gavi for cervical cancer vaccine

GAVI announced that it will open a window for the funding of the cervical cancer vaccine.

In another blog post, Sarah Boseley also commented on the global campaign against Abbott over the high price of its Aids drug, Kaletra.

Development and Aid


Owen comments on two pieces of background information for the Busan conference on aid effectiveness. First, an updated Quality of Official Development Assistance index (QuODA) (by CGD and the Brookings institution), which scores donors on the effectiveness of their aid.  Second, Publish What You Fund has published an Aid Transparency Index ranking donors according to how much information they make available about the aid they give.

17.   ODI (Opinion) – With few incentives for donors to do better, can the Busan outcome document be salvaged?

Matthew Geddes;

Geddes applies two frameworks, with a view on salvaging the Busan outcome document. Interesting stuff.

In Italy, the Bellagio conference on ‘The Future of Philanthropy and Development in the Pursuit of Human Wellbeing’ is about to finish. You find some outputs here. (Guess super Mario didn’t have time for that, and neither did the rioters in the Italian streets this week.)

Some other interesting blog posts:

  • CGD: Nancy Birdsall analyses the mess in Europe and the potential impact for the rest of the world. (Interesting to see that she thinks it’s urgent to strike a deal with China and other emerging countries. She seems to overlook the role of the European central bank and the simple fact that, if this is a 40 trillion economy, and the problem is 500 billion, then obviously part of the solution should lie in oldfashioned taxation of private and corporate wealth in the West. Just ask the people in Zuccoti park.)
  • Global Dashboard: Claire Melamed on the Sustainable Development Goals
  • Jonathan Glennie on Busan and the Paris declaration on aid




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