Dear Colleagues,

International women’s day yesterday, so you probably expect a female guest-blogger this week. We did consider that, and if we had been Chinese, we might even have invited a good-looking one. However, we decided to go for a Bild-style “male only” issue, instead. After all, we’re all Germans now, in the EU. So we asked our (good-looking) colleague, Pol De Vos, to write an editorial. From the shores of Cuba, he came up with this contribution on the so called ‘Fiscal Compact’. Greece might be “saved”, at least for now, but that does not mean all is well in the eurozone…

Enjoy your reading.

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


The EU ‘Fiscal Compact’ treaty, an anti-social determinant of health

Pol De Vos, ITM.

On the 2nd of March, 25 of the 27 EU member states signed the intergovernmental ‘Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance’ or ‘Fiscal Compact’. It requires EU member states to incorporate the prohibition of structural budget deficits in their constitution, and foresees strict surveillance, automatic correction mechanisms and a severe penalty in case of default. The treaty will enter into force as soon as it has been ratified by 12 countries.      Read the editorial here.

Health policy & financing

1. Foreign Affairs – Money or Die – A Watershed Moment for Global Public Health

Laurie Garret;

Global health programs now teeter on the edge of disaster. The world economic crisis and the politics of debt reduction are threatening everything from malaria control and AIDS treatment to well-baby programs and health-care worker training efforts. And even if the existing global public health architecture survives this time of parsimony and austerity, it will have been remodeled along the way.

2. Science Speaks – PEPFAR: “One of the greatest global health achievements in recent history”

Meredith Mazzotta; http://science speaks

At the 19th Conference of Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle, data showed HIV investments in PEPFAR focus countries lowered mortality by 20 percent compared to non-focus countries.

Nature also paid attention to the conference, and in particular to the growing concern that financial austerity in the United States and elsewhere is eating away at the funding needed for a worldwide prevention effort.  (count Belgium in: at this very moment, ‘development aid’ is on the chopping block, in government negotiations to limit the budget deficit)

3. HP&P – The emergence of global attention to HSS

Tamara Hafman & Jeremy Shiffman;

Organizations involved in global health have paid increasing attention to health systems strengthening over the past decade, driven by concerns over slow progress on the health MDGs and the impact of global health initiatives on health systems. There are several reasons to question the sustainability of this attention.

4. Global Health – Times they are a climate-changin

Andrew Harmer;

Andrew Harmer refers to a quote by BMJ editor Fiona Godlee who described climate change as “the greatest risk to human health; more of a risk than either communicable or non-communicable disease”. He agrees but would like to add that in his opinion, (1) climate change threatens human survival, not just our health; and (2) the threat is not limited to humans.

5. Global Health Europe (paper) – The EU’s role in global health and the WHO reform; between health and foreign policy

Samantha Battams et al.;

This paper explores the EU role in global health after the Lisbon Treaty. It was presented by Samantha Battams at the Lisboan Workshop on EU external representation after Lisbon, 21-22 February, at the Clingendael Institute, The Hague.

A new CSIS report (by Stephen J. Morrison & Haim Malka) explores why US global health policy could be in Palestinian hands, at least as far as US contributions to WHO are concerned. (now that’s a thought Newt will cherish)

6. Nature – International groups move to criminalize fake drugs

Katherine Rowlandt ;

Regulations aim to shift medicine counterfeiting from patent infringement to crime.

A new book, The evolving threat of antimicrobial resistance – Options for action, launched by WHO, showcases examples of actions taken to slow down drug resistance and preserve the ability of medicine to effectively treat many infectious diseases.

7. Lancet infectious diseases – Operational research and MDG tuberculosis control targets

Alimuddin Zumla & Frank Cobelens;

The failure to deliver tuberculosis care through optimum use of currently available diagnostics and drugs calls for a concerted action by donors and governments to commission operational research to provide an evidence base for enhancement of the use, quality, effectiveness, and coverage of tuberculosis interventions.

8. World Journal of Vaccines – Achieving Polio Eradication: A Need for Innovative Strategies

Basile Keugoung et al.;

The objective of this study was to analyze the current strategies used for eradicating wild polio viruses (WPV) and to propose some innovative strategies that may help to accelerate the progress towards polio eradication. The authors reckon the polio eradication goal is achievable. However, innovative strategies are urgently needed to improve the effectiveness and the efficiency of the routine polio immunization program.

International Women’s day & maternal health

9. AFGH (blog) – International Women’s day: great progress and three necessary next steps

Rachel Lander;

Plenty of articles on International Women’s day, obviously, you can find an overview here or here.  In this blog post, AFGH Advocacy Officer Rachel Lander acknowledges that some progress has been made, but she gives three critical areas that need to change sooner rather than later to advance women’s rights even further.

Not for the first time, Gordon Brown called for a Global Fund for education, to reduce poverty and illiteracy for girls.

Meanwhile, the United Nations is calling for a major international conference on women in 2015 – 20 years after a landmark meeting in Beijing in 1995. (As we learnt in the introduction, there’s still some work to do in Beijing, so why not organize it again in this wonderful city? )

10.   Guardian – World Bank must re-evaluate its strategies to cut maternal mortality

Elizabeth Arendt;

Deaths in childbirth would drop further if the World Bank cut user fees and expanded grants in its spending on reproductive health, the author claims.


11.   BMJ (editorial) – Cost effectiveness of interventions to tackle non-communicable diseases

Paul Revill;

Estimates of “best buys” in sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia are a good start, but findings must be assessed within the contexts of particular countries

12.   BMJ (news) – Learn from AIDS and invest in dementia care now to save money later, conference hears

Anne Gulland;

The World Health Organization has been urged to recognise dementia as a global health priority, alongside cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease, and diabetes.

Humanosphere’s Tom Paulson has a post on another neglected (chronic) disease, cancer in the developing world.


13.   CGD – Getting it Right: USAID and the President’s Malaria Initiative

Rachel Silverman & Victoria Fan;

The President’s Malaria Initiative released the results of an external evaluation and guess what, PMI is doing a remarkably good job and generating “value for money” in U.S. global health efforts. The authors also explore what’s behind the recent success.

14. – Africa Analysis: Finding a niche in malaria research

Linda Nordling;

Africa needs to up its game in malaria research, but by doing what it does best, not by replicating Western research, says Linda Nordling.  Rather than looking for a niche, it’s perhaps the need for a new approach to malaria research that is needed, one closer to the people’s lives.


15.   PLOS – Guidance for Evidence-Informed Policies about Health Systems: Rationale for and Challenges of Guidance Development

Xavier Bosch-Capblanch et al.;

In the first paper in a three-part series on health systems guidance, Xavier Bosch-Capblanch and colleagues examine how guidance is currently formulated in low- and middle-income countries, and the challenges to developing such guidance.

A research article in Health Research Policy & Systems (by Sara Bennett et al.) reviews and assesses the factors that facilitate the development of sustainable health policy analysis institutes in low and middle income countries and the nature of external support for capacity development provided to such institutes. They focus on 6 institutes.

16.   FNI report – Tackling Cross-Sectoral Challenges to Advance Health as Part of Foreign Policy

Miriam Faid;

This report commissioned by the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Oslo, is based on the general assumption that the integration of global health into foreign policy-making is beneficial for advancing global health goals. Using an exploratory comparative approach the report draws empirical lessons from three global issues, selected on the basis of their similarities to global health: Environment as regards climate change and biodiversity and their integration into global trade governance; migration and its integration into global security governance and gender and its emergence into global development governance.

Development & Aid

17.   UNEP – 21 Issues for the 21st Century

This report gives the results of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Foresight Process on Emerging Environmental Issues.

18.   UNCTAD – Report of the Secretary-General of UNCTAD to UNCTAD XIII – Development-led globalization: Towards sustainable and inclusive development paths

In this report, written in the run-up to the UNCTAD meeting of April, Supachai Panitchpakdi attacks forcefully finance-driven globalization.

There’s a new issue of Development Policy Review. Articles in this issue examine the aid effectiveness agenda, the use of political-economy analysis to make development assistance more effective, and microfinance versus traditional banking.

Finally, some recent D&A news:

  • Olivier De Schutter, UN rapporteur on the right to food, says governments in rich and poor countries must bring in tough measures to combat the unhealthy products being marketed.
  • The water MDG was met early, we learnt this week.
  • Bill Easterly explained why he’s in no mood to lead the World Bank.
  • Ben Ramalingam had this nice post on World Bank ‘Official Views’, which give the Bank at times the appearance of a ‘Development Church’.

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