Dear Colleagues,

This week’s guest-editorial is written by Majdi Ashour, a Palestinian MD who is currently taking a short course at ITM. He recently attended the third Lancet Palestinian Health Alliance conference in Beirut. In the Lancet (Offline), Richard Horton gives some of his observations on the conference; as you will notice, the Lancet editor also pops up in Majdi’s editorial.

Enjoy your reading.

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



The Motorcycle Diaries revisited: on PPES and PTSD

Majdi Ashour

With a few others, I finally managed to get out of Gaza to participate at the third Lancet Palestinian Health Alliance (LPHA) Conference in Beirut. My participation in two previous scientific events of the LPHA, at Birzeit University in the West Bank, had only been possible through videoconference. Commuting from the “besieged” Gaza  Strip to the “bantustanized”  West Bank was only a beautiful daydream in a nightmarish daily reality at the time. Read the rest of this editorial here.



Health policy & financing

1. Leading group innovative financing – Recommendations from the task force on innovative financing for health

In this short report, you can find the recommendations presented by the taskforce on innovative health financing at the 10th plenary session of the Leading Group in Madrid (end of February).

You can find the Madrid declaration (Chair summary) here. It underlines all the efforts implemented by Spain under its presidency, illustrated by concrete applications of innovating financing, along with more theoretical proposals suggested in the various sectors.

2. Global Fund observer – issue 178

Issue 178 of the GFO features an article regarding applications for funding under the Bridge Funding Mechanism, a piece on the reorganization of the Global Fund Secretariat and an analysis examining financial transaction taxes to potentially generate additional revenue for the Global Fund.


Last week, Gabriel Jaramillo, the new boss of the GF, said the Fund is increasingly being forced to devote a portion of its donations to improving its own spending controls rather than disease-fighting. France has pushed for more controls, for example.


Yet, on the whole, this has turned out to be a pretty solid week for the Global Fund; there was good news about Japan‘s contribution, as well as strong support expressed by Cameron & Obama, in a joint op-ed.


3.  KFF – Peace Corps, PEPFAR, Global Health Service Corps launch Public-Private Partnership to place medical professionals overseas

The Peace Corps, PEPFAR and the Global Health Service Corps announced a public-private partnership program to place U.S. health workers overseas to help address medical professional shortages. There’s an initial focus on three African countries (Tanzania, Malawi and Uganda).


In a few African countries (Kenya and yes, also Tanzania), there are health worker strikes going on. (Kenyan nurses have ended their strike by now, though.)


4. Lancet (Editorial) – Progress in sanitation needed for neglected tropical diseases

There was recently upbeat news on access to safe drinking water, but the Lancet laments the fact that improving sanitation and hygiene is still not at the forefront of development aid despite its obvious preventive effects on many infectious diseases, including most neglected tropical diseases.


CGD’s Victoria Fan also dedicated a blog post to global sanitation.


5. CGD – What Is Not Owned Cannot Be Stolen: Stop Dehumanizing African Health Workers

Michael Clemens;

Clemens wasn’t amused when he read the NYT article “America is stealing the world’s doctors.” (wait till Goldman Sachs gets involved)


6. Health Financing in Africa (blog) – La pomme de Newton

Bruno Meessen;

There is a rising awareness among stakeholders that institutional arrangements and incentives play an important role in determining the performance of health systems in low-income countries. LICs’ HS are no different from high-income countries’ health systems in this respect. This rising awareness is due to recent trends like health insurance and PBF. Our colleague Bruno Meessen focuses here on the contribution of PBF (in French).


7. BMJ (news) – US focus on new psychiatric disorders is distracting attention from tackling global mental health problems

Matthew Limb;

A “crisis of confidence” in psychiatry in the United States risks contaminating global efforts to combat mental health disorders, says Vikram Patel, a member of WHO’s expert advisory group on mental health. A controversial US review of psychiatric diagnoses is distracting professionals from tackling the extensive mental health needs of people in low and middle income countries.


8. WHO (news) – More than 900 000 lives saved by protecting people living with HIV from TB
Some of the countries in Africa with high HIV prevalence have a TB/HIV co-infection rate of more than 80% with TB being the major cause of death among people living with HIV. In combatting these diseases, it is of high importance to prevent, diagnose and treat HIV and TB in an integrated manner. WHO updated its global policy on the joint prevention, diagnosis and treatment of TB and HIV.


Other TB related news: the Gates Foundation donated $220 million to a non-profit research organization, Aeras, aimed at finding a more effective vaccine against tuberculosis.


9. Reuters – Analysis: India cancer ruling opens door for cheaper drugs

India’s move to strip Bayer of its exclusive rights to a cancer drug has set a precedent that could extend to other treatments, including modern HIV/AIDS drugs.


10.    Plos (Policy forum) – Guidance for Evidence-Informed Policies about Health Systems: Linking Guidance Development to Policy Development

John N. Lavis et al.;

In the second paper in a three-part series on health systems guidance, John Lavis and colleagues explore the challenge of linking guidance development and policy development at global and national levels.


11.    World Bank – The fiscal dimension of HIV/AIDS in Botswana, South Africa, Swaziland and Uganda

Elizabeth Lule & Markus Haacker;

This new WB publication analyzes the fiscal implications of HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa, the epicenter of the epidemic.

12.    Globalization & Health – Development cooperation for health: reviewing a dynamic concept in a complex global aid environment

Peter S. Hill et al.;

The 4th High Level Forum on aid effectiveness, held in Busan in November last year again promised an opportunity for a “new consensus on development cooperation” to emerge. This paper reviews the recent evolution of the concept of coordination for development assistance in health as the basis from which to understand current discourses. Four distinct transitions in the understanding, orientation and application of coordination were identified.


13.    BMJ (research) – Patient safety in developing countries: retrospective estimation of scale and nature of harm to patients in hospital

RM Wilson et al.;

According to this new BMJ study, poor hospital care poses a risk to the lives of many patients in the developing world. Researchers looked at patients from 26 hospitals across eight countries — Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Morocco, Tunisia, Sudan, South Africa and Yemen — and found that harm to patients caused by their health care rather than their disease is a major public health problem.


14.    Science Speaks – Study finds decreased HIV risk at the population level from increased HIV treatment in the community

Meredith Mazzotta;
After last year’s evidence (from a randomized control trial) that reported a strongly reduced chance for HIV infection (96%) with timely ART, a study presented last week at the 19th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Seattle demonstrated the first empirical evidence of a population-level reduction in risk of acquiring HIV infection in communities with ART coverage of all HIV-infected people. The study took place in a rural community in KwaZulu-Natal.

15.    HP&P – Global Immunization Vision and Strategy (GIVS): a mid-term analysis of progress in 50 countries

Lidija Kamara et al.;

Fifty comprehensive national multi-year plans were analysed along the four strategic areas of the Global Immunization Vision and Strategy (GIVS): (1) protecting more people in a changing world; (2) introducing new vaccines and technologies; (3) integrating immunization, other health interventions and surveillance in the health system context; and (4) immunizing in the context of global interdependence.  By 2010, all 50 countries planned to have introduced hepatitis B vaccine and 48 the Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) vaccine. Countries seem to be ill-prepared in terms of either expanding cold-chain capacity, or in establishing a corresponding surveillance system, for these new vaccines.


Finally, we also want to draw your attention to a new research consortium on health systems strengthening. Resyst aims to enhance the resilience and responsiveness of health systems to promote health and health equity and reduce poverty. It was  launched by the London school.

Development & Aid


16.    The Broker (new issue)

The new issue of the Broker focuses on the future of international NGOs.


In the Guardian, Jonathan Glennie thinks one of the ways forward for NGOs is more collaboration. The 2005 ‘Make Poverty History’ campaign proved this, he claims. (if NGOs just happily sung together ‘just give us your fucking money’ (Bob Geldof, Live Aid, 1985), then everything would turn out ok. Unfortunately, they would start to resemble Goldman Sachs too, then).

17.    Fian – New Human Rights Principles launched at UN, Geneva

A ground-breaking new human rights instrument, the “Maastricht Principles on Extraterritorial Obligations of States in the area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,” has been launched at the UN in Geneva. In order to address the challenges of globalization, States’ extraterritorial human rights obligations (ETOs) – that is, the obligations towards persons outside their territories – are crucial.

(note for Newt: extraterritorial obligations, not extraterrestrial obligations; Mitt Romney already got the hint, as he’s handing out surveillance cameras to the Chinese on a corporate scale )


We already mentioned that Obama and Cameron seem to get along just fine these days – they even watch basketball games together in Air Force One, apparently. You find the fact sheet on the US-UK Partnership for Global Development here (with a section on Global Health).

Meanwhile, the World Bank leadership contest still inspires some pieces. The NYT mentioned that in spite of all the talk of ‘American decline’ in the press, an American is still expected to lead the World Bank. Check out also Todd Moss’ view on the qualities required for the next WB president (on the CGD blog).


A few more articles which might be of interest to some of you:


* Frauke De Weijer approaches fragile states from a complexity perspective.

* ODI’s Claire Melamed says inequality must be placed at the centre of any post-2015 framework.

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