Dear Colleagues,


World TB day and World Water day this week, as well as a controversial statement by an African Nobel Peace prize winner that instantly qualified her to run in the Republican primaries. In other words, plenty of options for a guest editorial. However, we always try to get our priorities right. We think this is ‘World Planetary Boundaries century’ (or is it millennium), so we decided to write a few things on the climate challenge this week. 

Enjoy your reading.


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




Time to stop instrumentalizing health for economic growth 


Kristof Decoster, ITM

This week BMJ casts a spotlight on climate change. The journal provides a nice collection of articles with the latest news, state of the art research and viewpoints on the enormous political challenge. Some articles explore how a low carbon economy can boost people’s health, whether contraction and convergence is the way forward, etc. Suffice it to say: recommended reading.

Read the rest of the editorial


World TB day


1. Lancet (editorial) – Tuberculosis control and elimination in 2012 and beyond

Celebrating world TB day, a number of journals and magazines published an update on how things are going. The Lancet editorial gave a balanced and even hopeful perspective on the fight against TB from a more medical perspective.


On her blog, Sarah Boseley explored the rising threat of MDR TB around the world. The US announced they would focus more on MDR TB globally. MDR TB is obviously a security threat for the US and the rest of this globalized world.


Irin Plus reckons childhood TB is a hidden epidemic.

2. Lancet (Comment) – A sustainable agenda for tuberculosis control and research

Mario Raviglione et al.;

A new strategy for tuberculosis control and research is needed that will redesign a post-2015 paradigm (in line with sustainable development and Rio+20).


3. Science Speaks – Blueprint toward a TB-free future

Meredith Mazzotta;

Members of the TB vaccine research and development community released a new document titled Tuberculosis Vaccines: A Strategic Blueprint for the Next Decade to coordinate and guide their efforts over the next 10 years. This resource outlines the five key questions that need to be addressed, and provides a basic framework around which both advocates and researchers can organize and rally.


Climate change & health

4. BMJ (spotlight) – How the low carbon economy can improve health

Andy Haines & Carlos Dora;

In one of the articles of this BMJ supplement, Haines and Dora argue that health professionals are uniquely placed to guide the climate change conversation towards better policies that are good for the planet and for people



5. Sarah Boseley – Why are children missing from WHO targets on non-infectious diseases?

Children die from cancer, heart disease and other non-infectious illnesses but they are in danger of being forgotten as global targets for action are drawn up, say health groups.

6. Oxfam (Global Health Check) – One important step forward for access to medicines in India, but are two giant steps backwards just around the corner?

Rohit Malpani et al.;

The two authors are quite happy with the decision taken by the Indian Patent office last week in the Bayer case, but worry about two other challenges for access to medicines in the months ahead, by the EU and Novartis respectively.


Meanwhile, one week after the compulsory license issuance, Big Pharma rival Roche announced it’s going to sell cheaper cancer drugs in India.


In other NCD news, Bloomberg Philantropies pledged over 220 million dollar to a global anti-tobacco initiative.



Health Policy & Financing


7. KFF – Common Infections Could Become Deadly With Increase In Antibiotic Resistance, WHO’s Chan Says

At a conference in Copenhagen, Margaret Chan worried whether we’re heading for a post-antibiotic era.



8. Yale Global online –  World Momentum Builds for Universal Health Coverage

Yanzhong Huang;

Emerging economies are following Europe’s lead, striving for universal health coverage. Huang sees a new wave of UHC, the third wave in history.


Some more UHC headlines you find here.


9. Plos Medicine – Guidance for Evidence-Informed Policies about Health Systems: Assessing How Much Confidence to Place in the Research Evidence

Simon Lewin et al.;

In the third paper in a three-part series on health systems guidance, Simon Lewin and colleagues explore the challenge of assessing how much confidence to place in evidence on health systems interventions.


In the same journal, David Peters and Sara Bennett provide a critical perspective on the series on health systems guidance that examines how evidence should be used to strengthen health systems and improve the delivery of global health interventions.


10.    Lancet correspondence on Neglected diseases – Will increased funding for neglected tropical diseases really make poverty history? — Authors’ reply

David Molyneux et al.;

In an earlier Letter to the Lancet, Tim Allen and Melissa Parker commented on the increase in funding by the UK Department for International Development for the control and elimination of NTDs and suggested that “vertical” NTD control programmes such as mass drug distribution have the potential to undermine already weak health systems. The authors of the original article disagree. One sentence in their article especially hit the nail on the head: “If a health system does not exist, it is difficult to strengthen it.” (case closed J)


Global Fund


11.    MSF issue brief: Losing Ground – How funding shortfalls and the cancellation of the Global Fund’s Round 11 are jeopardizing the fight against HIV and TB

MSF calls on the stakeholders of the Global Fund to convene an emergency donor conference and to open a new early funding window to raise the necessary resources needed to ensure that the Fund is fully functioning and open for business in 2012.
In “Losing Ground”, MSF identifies and describes the impact of funding shortfalls in critical areas of HIV and TB. This issue brief illustrates findings of a survey of 13 countries where MSF supports HIV and TB treatment projects. It shows some of the critical areas in which the cancellation of Round 11 are already having an impact on the ability of high prevalence countries to implement the latest, most promising strategies to combat their epidemics.


Former GF boss Kazatchkine wrote a farewell letter. An MLI blog post thinks the tough economic times may put developing countries in the driver’s seat.

In an event at Capitol Hill, the Global Fund celebrated efforts made by corporate partners. (We are not particularly overwhelmed by the figures mentioned).


CGD’s Amanda Glassman wonders what happened to health at the G8 – the forum that created the Global Fund in 2001, one might recall.





12.     Background paper on Conceptual issues related to Health Systems Research to inform a WHO global strategy on Health Systems Research


Steven J. Hoffman et al.;

This background paper was commissioned to provide a conceptual underpinning for the WHO Global Strategy on Health Systems Research that is currently under development. You can still send your comments by email to first author Steven Hoffman ( until 15 April.


13.    Aids – Evaluating HIV prevention effectiveness: the perfect as the enemy of the good

Marie Laga et al.;

Our colleague does not agree with the dominance of randomized designs to evaluate impact. See also her Lancet letter last week on the Avahan HIV prevention programme.


14.    BMJ (editorial) : Reducing neonatal mortality in resource poor settings

Kim Eva Dickson et al.;

It’s the advantage of a gigantic nation like India to be able to implement large scale RCTs of relatively complex interventions. The researchers of a new study in BMJ randomized over a million children to assess the effectiveness of the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness approach. For those who have implemented IMCI in countries, there’s no doubt that a well implemented IMCI programme affects neonatal and child survival. As always the devil is in the detail. In this editorial, Dickson et al. say implementation remains a challenge.


The diehards who reckon RCT should be the gold standard for any intervention – even if it’s a complex intervention – will be pleased with this study.



15.    TMIH (viewpoint) – Disease control and health systems in low- and middle-income countries: enhancing positive interrelation

Charles Collins et al.;

There is a growing interest in improving the relationship between disease control programmes and the rest of the health system in LMICs. This short study provides a multi-dimensional approach for policy-makers and researchers. It proposes a framework to address the importance of mutual support across stakeholder perspectives, striving to understand and analyse the consequences of their reciprocal views. In doing this, the study stresses the importance of common understanding around health system values, the political interplay between stakeholders, the contextual setting and the need to integrate research and capacity development in this area.


Another recent TMIH viewpoint explores the capacity building done by the Gates Malaria Partnership in malaria research.



16.    Global Public Health – Maternal morbidity: Neglected dimension of safe motherhood in the developing world

Karen Hardee et al.;

In safe motherhood programming in the developing world, insufficient attention has been given to maternal morbidity, which can extend well beyond childbirth. This article addresses six selected relatively neglected aspects of maternal morbidity.


Finally, a study in Plos One explores hypertension in 4 communities in SSA.


Development & Aid

The World Bank leadership saga continues.  Check out the latest developments and assessments in the Guardian and in Foreign Policy. Jeffrey Sachs also responded to some of the more common criticisms on the website of the Nation. (Jeffrey will probably not have been very pleased with Barroso’s new statements on the FTT in the Euro zone: tackling budget deficits is the mantra, now).


Some other articles on D&A from this week:

  • a Reuters blog post in which the author wonders why Gates & Buffett still top the Forbes ranking of billionaires, if they have given away their billions over the past year.
  • Increased financial transparency is essential to stem the illicit capital outflows that cripple Africa (in the Guardian).
  • Tony Blair was in Africa recently, on behalf of his Africa Governance initiative. Apparently, when asked whether he thought good governance also implies respect for human rights, he replied ‘That’s a question I won’t answer’. (Tony always knew how to dodge the bullets)
  • Jonathan Glennie and Errol Mendez  exchange views on a related question: should donor nations give aid to countries with poor human rights records?
  • Paul Collier on global social progress.
  • A piece on the White Savior Industrial Complex that has made a blast on Twitter and in the Blogosphere.
  • The author of that piece must have been overjoyed when noticing that even Foreign Policy now thinks America can draw useful lessons from the global war on corruption. (we reckon it’s time to send Tony Blair to the US)
  • WB chief economist Justin Yifu Lin coins the term ‘Development thinking 3.0.

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