Dear Colleagues,

 

It’s been a while since we asked for your feedback on this weekly newsletter. Given the fact that we all just love audits and evaluations, some of you must be dying to give some comments. Others only joined recently as subscribers. Anyway, as this newsletter is constantly evolving (some people probably think by now the term ‘Friday tsunami’ is more appropriate to describe the weekly global health policy digest), we think the time is right to organize a survey on how you perceive the newsletter, how you tend to use it, how much time you spend on it (and on respective sections), what you think are the strengths and gaps, etc.

 

Of course, what subscribers expect from this newsletter will differ greatly, but we’re nevertheless interested to get an ‘aggregated’ view as well as a more specific view (by region, professional category, …). It will come as no surprise that it’s a neverending struggle for us to balance comprehensiveness with offering just the highlights of the week. We often fail miserably – when it comes to using the axe, we are far less ruthless than the ‘men in black’ from the trojka. And unlike for the Eurovision song contest participants, televoting is not an option on Friday morning, unfortunately. Maybe we should go for a more ‘selective’ newsletter? But who would get 12 or 10 points then, and who would get 0 points?

 

Anyway, we hope all of you take the time to fill in the questionnaire, even the ones who routinely press the ‘delete’ button on Fridays. Don’t hesitate to be frank or ‘disruptive’! It should take only about 10-15 minutes (I know, I’m supposed to say thisJ). So get started and check out for yourself how long it takes. It should definitely take less time than scanning the newsletter.    

 

In this week’s guest editorial, Suzanne Kiwanuka from Makerere University reports on an international event for global health innovators that took place in Rotterdam on Wednesday. We’re very happy she still found the time to write this contribution before hopping on the plane back home.

 

 

Enjoy your reading.

 

Kristof Decoster, Ildikó Bokros, Peter Delobelle, Basile Keugoung & Wim Van Damme

 

 

Editorial

 

 

Evolutionary revolution? Musings on the exciting future of the global health architecture

 

By Suzanne Kiwanuka (Makerere University School of Public Health, Department of Health Policy Planning and Management)

 

“The loftier the building, the deeper must the foundation be laid.”

Thomas Kempis

 

Innovation, sustainability, systems thinking, governance, Roman architecture, software and knowledge management were the key words at the Global Health Architecture Conference in Rotterdam earlier this week. And while I walked in (straight from the airport) with major concerns of not being able to stay awake for the sessions, my pathetic concerns were quickly and effectively dispelled. Within minutes I realized that there was no other place I would rather be than here, at the Lanteren theatre, Rotterdam, listening to the passionate provocative pitches of global health gurus. Wow! What a day!

 

It all kicked off with a refreshing musical prelude (an intriguing quartet with a blend of African drums and a Western flute). Just the recipe to kick the creative juices of the attendees into high gear (a note to conference organizers out there….this is innovation at its best…pick a leaf!).  Then the “conversation” started, with the speakers having been invited by their host Godelieve van Heteren to “be themselves”, to be “provocative” and of course to “think outside the box”.

 

Dr Agyepong began the conversation passionately imploring us to reconsider the current efforts of sustainability in global health systems which she vividly painted as “fishing for the hungry as opposed to teaching the hungry to fish”. You couldn’t have missed her point even if you wanted to. She said “you may be able to estimate how many fish you can catch per minute and how many fish you are able to give per person per year or indeed document how many lives have been saved by the fish but in the end you are doing the fishing and the hungry are left hopelessly dependent and probably worse off than before thereby threatening the future” (Okay, maybe not her exact words, but you get the idea). Indeed empowered people are at the centre of health systems sustainability!

 

Prof. Stefan Peterson argued that introducing new health systems hardware (medical supplies, laboratories, policies) can only work with adequate software (values, ideas, power, accountability). We simply cannot keep adding new hardware solutions to solve software deficiencies. An example was given of the futility and potential danger of introducing new vaccines of a failing immunization system! How poignant!

 

Dr Breda highlighted the importance of maintaining a few evidence-based interventions in order to “ensure the biggest bang for our buck” particularly in the case of using physical activity and diet to control most of the life threatening non communicable diseases. He lauded the role that stakeholders can play in promoting good health practices but warned that this role should not be allowed to disintegrate into a situation where “foxes are put among the chickens” (food manufacturers allowed to play a key role in devising food policies?). The data he presented on the dismal status of exclusive breastfeeding in some European countries was particularly disturbing.

 

After a music and dancing interlude, Dr Soucat reminded us that although increased development assistance has not resulted in better health outcomes for recipient countries, the tide is changing. The last decade has seen rapid economic growth in many African countries and soon these countries will be taking greater responsibility for funding their health needs. She warned however that these economic resources should wisely be invested in improving infrastructure as well as human capital for optimum returns. Therefore a shift from quick fix, magic bullet health system solutions to well thought through long term solutions which offer value for money, social safety nets, accountability and contribute to economic transformation is a must.

 

Professor Meessen talked of “philanthrocapitalists” and “philanthrocracy”, two terms anyone interested in global health should acquaint themselves with. He said that the emerging trend of the economically driven “ultrarich” funding health could be a double-edged sword. While there is a risk that it might be more difficult in this landscape to make a case for health/poverty and inequality as a global responsibility, could there be a possibility that perhaps the entrepreneurship approach in the public health sector might indeed work better than the charity approach? (Provocation at its best!)

 

Dr Fritsche reiterated that systemic problems in health systems cannot be solved using “tip of the iceberg” simple solutions. There is a need for a paradigm shift involving making use of data with good governance and accountability for better health outcomes. The importance of empowering public sector health workers to think and act like entrepreneurs promoting a brand of quality services instead of providers of charity was again pitched.

 

Dr Loewenson posed the most provocative question of the day. Is sustainability a mere maintenance of status quo or do we sometimes need to disrupt to sustain? She reasoned: why not disrupt and rebuild innovatively? After all, the current architecture and efforts are not sustainable for the kind of change needed to achieve the benefits we seek for our diverse societies? She posited that we need to reclaim our transformative power in global health by employing a three-pronged approach: by reclaiming preventive public health, reclaiming public health authority and accountability and reclaiming society by improving collaborations between and across key players. It is a question of shifting our mindsets and awakening to the challenges and opportunities with creative innovation in global health.

 

In line with shifting mindsets Dr Kabir proposed some 3Q thinking to knowledge translation. Research can inform policy domains, stimulate discourse, reframe debates and promote reflection and learning among other things. Sharing knowledge is power.

 

The afternoon round table sessions offered their own pickings of stimulating debate. One of the discussions focused on how Africa is indeed on the brink of major economic growth if not already engulfed in it and what implications and opportunities this holds for African youth and how educating them prepares them to benefit from this economic growth.

 

From my own perspective as a researcher and public health specialist from Africa, I came away convinced more than ever before that the current health system is not in any way built to solve current problems and incremental solutions have proved to be mostly ineffective. Thinking outside the box? Perhaps it’s time to throw away this pesky box? The views of the people delivering services should be of interest since these people are central to the success of health interventions. The need to disrupt and rebuild a modern state in health systems requires forging smart alliances instead of isolated niches. It requires radical innovation as opposed to incremental innovation. It requires putting a “laser focus” on the health system dynamics emerging as a result of interventions. “Entrepreneurship” for the public health sector is not a four-letter word! Building the health system might not happen fast enough but there are signs that a major shift is certainly underway. With emerging southern leadership in public health, young vibrant researchers testing one system innovation, one step at a time!

 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead

 

 


Maternal health & gender

 

1.     Lancet Themed issue ‘Women deliver 2013’

http://www.lancet.com/themed/women-deliver-2013

In recent years, two important changes in maternal health have taken place worldwide: a reduction in global maternal mortality, and an increase in the proportion of childbirths occurring in health facilities. Although substantial progress has been made, the fifth MDG to reduce the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters before 2015 will be missed. Against this backdrop, The Lancet published a special themed issue to coincide with the third Women Deliver conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on May 28–30, 2013. Women Deliver brings together voices from around the world to generate political commitment and resource investments to improve the health and well-being of girls and women and achieve universal access to reproductive health.

2.     Lancet (Editorial) – Women Deliver post—2015

http://www.lancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(13)61057-0/fulltext

This editorial introduces the themed issue. For the purpose of this newsletter, it’s definitely also worth checking out the following Lancet Comments:

 

Also in today’s Lancet issue, some ‘maternal health post-2015’ Letters were published about the Maternal Health Manifesto (published after the Global Maternal Health Conference in Arusha, Tanzania). Here you find the authors’ reply to the criticism (on omission of the role of midwives; and on the need to work with men – male partner involvement in securing women’s access to health services  is vital ).

 

Our colleague, Vincent De Brouwere, also wrote a Lancet letter on maternal death reviews, together with some colleagues. In the letter, they express their concern that the new overarching Maternal Death Surveillance and Response (MDSR) programme could have an adverse effect on current and future Maternal Death Reviews. “Today, however, nationwide MDSR is proposed to countries by key UN organisations as the new best buy option, although it might be too early for full implementation. … It is hoped that the rapid analysis of maternal deaths will prompt immediate actions to improve maternal health. MDSRs seem to focus on national or regional strategic leverages to reduce maternal mortality such as the organisation of national blood banks or the training or recruitment of health personnel. They also will develop systems of accountability by creating feedback mechanisms from district to national level. However, because the focus is on creating changes by improving accountability—as opposed to local improvement of quality of care— MDSRs might threaten confidentiality, essential for facility-based MDRs. Without confidentiality and openness in reporting, valuable insights and lessons are lost.”

 

3.     Lancet (Comment) – A breakthrough for the health and rights of women and girls

Babatunde Osotimehin;

http://www.lancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(13)60848-X/fulltext?_eventId=login

The agreed conclusions of the 57th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in March, 2013 promise to protect women and girls from violence and to initiate legislative and policy changes that will improve sexual and reproductive health and uphold reproductive rights. The Commission is a global policy-making group that meets annually to set worldwide standards and to create policies to promote sex equality and women’s empowerment. In this Comment, the Under-Secretary-General of UNFPA gives her perspective on the March session of the Commission.

 

Check out also this Guardian Global Development article on a conference of parliamentarians in London, last week, on the same topic. The members of parliament heard about “a growing backlash against women’s rights that became acutely apparent at this year’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).”

4.     Lancet (Editorial) – GAVI injects new life into HPV vaccine rollout

http://www.lancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(13)61058-2/fulltext

Last week’s news (on new record low prices for HPV vaccines) had been long awaited, this Lancet Editorial argues. Since their approval, health experts and campaigners had called for the vaccines against the HPV that cause cervical cancer to become available at a much cheaper price. And now prices have plummeted. MSF criticism is valid, but as GAVI scales up the use of the vaccine, the price is expected to come down further.

 

5.     Lancet (Viewpoint) – Gender and global health: evidence, policy, and inconvenient truths

Sarah Hawkes & Kent Buse;

http://www.lancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(13)60253-6/fulltext

Gender is missing from, misunderstood in, and only sometimes mainstreamed into global health policies and programmes. In this Viewpoint, the authors survey the evidence for the role of gender in health status, analyse responses to gender by key global health actors, and propose strategies for mainstreaming gender-related evidence into policies and programmes.  (the fact that we include this viewpoint in the section ‘maternal health & gender’ is further proof of their point)

6.     Global Health Policy – Gender bending global health

Andrew Harmer;

http://www.globalhealthpolicy.net/?p=1145

Andrew Harmer was dazzling quick today, we have to say. He already posted a blog on the gender analysis viewpoint in the Lancet today (by Sarah Hawkes & Kent Buse). (For the title, he was probably inspired by David Beckham’s retirement.)

 

Lancet series on Pakistan

 

7.     Lancet – Pakistan: health is an opportunity to be seized

Richard Horton;

http://www.lancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(13)60946-0/fulltext

In this editorial, Horton introduces the Lancet Series on Pakistan and health. In the words of Sania Nishtar and colleagues (in ‘Health reform in Pakistan: a call to action’): “Pakistan’s enormous macroeconomic, internal, and human security challenges coexist alongside the opportunity created by a huge desire for change. With democracy taking root and a new constitutionally ushered era in state governance, The Lancet Series about Pakistan and health focuses on health as a nation-building and social-welfare agenda at a time of unprecedented social upheaval and economic hardships in the country. We call for a unified vision for the goal of universal and equitable health access. We provide recommendations for six objectives for policy and action. Higher political priority for health, increased investments, a combination of targeted and universal approaches, action in terms of the social determinants, institutionalisation of the right organisational network, and frameworks for accountability are crucial for the attainment of the health goals in Pakistan.

 

Plenty of articles are already available – early online.

 

World Health Assembly & WHO

 

 

We assume many of you are gearing up for the 66th WHA and going through all the preparatory documents. For the others, you will be able to follow the World Health Assembly via  #WHA66 (on Twitter). In this New Brave era of social media, WHO will also be posting photos & videos from #WHA66 via YouTube http://goo.gl/9t2Gf  & Instagram http://goo.gl/3dPm0.  (so we should all hope Margaret Chan will sing again).

 

There’s a few documents we would like to draw your attention upon:

 

  • On the WHO Reform: High level implementation plan and report: report by the Director General (see here ).
  • WHO & social determinants – Revitalized content on “social determinants of health” in the WHO website is now available.  Since the World Conference on Social Determinants of Health in Rio de Janeiro last 2011, there has been a surge of interest and commitment among different stakeholders, especially WHO Member States, to address the social determinants of health to achieve health equity. In order to support this growing global movement, the Secretariat now launches a newly-revitalized website that captures the considerable body of work done since the launch of the report of the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health in 2008. The website’s contents are more accessible and better organized, and include useful information on:  the following areas: evidence, action & global commitments.

 

8.     Speaking of Medicine – From What We Know to What We Do: Now is the Time for Governments to Fix a Failing System for Drug Development

KH Onarheim & JH Iversen;

http://blogs.plos.org/speakingofmedicine/2013/05/15/from-what-we-know-to-what-we-do-now-is-the-time-for-governments-to-fix-a-failing-system-for-drug-development/

Kristine Husøy Onarheim and Johanne Helene Iversen from Universities Allied for Essential Medicines write about the broken system for drug development, and how governments are given an opportunity to address it. In this blog post, they give some of the necessary background about the upcoming meeting at the World Health Assembly whereby states will discuss WHO’s follow-up of the report of the Consultative Expert Working Group (CEWG) on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination, and the follow-up report issued by the WHO Secretariat after an open-ended member state meeting in November last year.

 

9.     WHO – World Health Statistics 2013

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2013/world_health_statistics_20130515/en/index.html

There’s no way you could have missed this. World Health Statistics 2013 contains WHO’s annual compilation of health-related data for its 194 Member States, and includes a summary of the progress made towards achieving the health-related MDGs and associated targets. This year, it also included highlight summaries on the topics of reducing the gaps between the world’s most-advantaged and least-advantaged countries  (the point which was highlighted most in press reports), and on current trends in ODA for health.  (see also BMJ news on these WHS 2013).

 

10. WHO – 2.4 billion people will lack improved sanitation in 2015

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/notes/2013/sanitation_mdg_20130513/en/index.html

Some 2.4 billion people – one-third of the world’s population – will remain without access to improved sanitation in 2015, according to a joint WHO/UNICEF report issued earlier this week. The report, entitled Progress on sanitation and drinking-water 2013 update, warns that, at the current rate of progress, the 2015 MDG target of halving the proportion of the 1990 population without sanitation will be missed by 8% – or half a billion people.   (remark: this report caused quite some uproar, at least in Belgium, as it seems to contradict an earlier (more optimistic) report on the sanitation MDG – apparently, a measurement issue (the UN parameter for access to safe water is less strict) partly explains the different estimates ).

 

 

Global Fund update

 

* The New funding model is moving forward, the GF (and Aidspan) report.

The first concept notes to be submitted under the new funding model of the Global Fund were reviewed – and applauded – by a new Grant Approval Committee in Geneva early this month.

Another Aidspan article (by David Garmaise ) dwells on the country dialogues and the process of developing concept notes in three early applicant countries which seem to share some common characteristics, but also differ in many respects.

 

 

* An Aidspan article  reports that the French foreign minister has said that the French contribution to the GF will not be reduced.

After a visit from Mark Dybul, Canada offers more support for AMFm – see here (article on Canadian International Development Agency website).

 

 

 

* Both Mark Dybul (GF) and Michel  Sidibé  (UNAIDS) wrote blog posts or issued a statement to observe the International Day against homophobia and transphobia  (17 May).  The right to health belongs to everyone.

 

Mental health

 

11. Plos – Grand Challenges: Integrating Mental Health Care into the Non-Communicable Disease Agenda

Victoria Ngo et al.;

http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1001443;jsessionid=01C917A8C37689B60B7D8428FE3518E9

In the third article of a five-part series providing a global perspective on integrating mental health, Victoria Ngo and colleagues discuss the benefits and requirements of collaborative care models, where non-communicable disease and mental health care are integrated and provided in the primary care setting. This article, the third in a series of five, argues that mental health care should be integrated into the NCD agenda, reviews the evidence for models of integration in high- and low-income countries, identifies the challenges and opportunities for addressing the rising burden of mental health and NCD, and recommends strategies to advance a more integrated agenda.

 

Health Poverty action also stresses mental health and wants the global health community to pay more attention to it: “Around 450 million people worldwide suffer from some form of mental health disorder. In developing countries depression is ranked the seventh biggest health burden. War, poverty and disease all increase levels of mental illness further, but lack of resources, and competing priorities, mean most developing countries put less than 1% of their health expenditure towards this area. Across the developing world mental health disorders cause staggering economic and social costs.

 

 

Health Policy & Financing

 

12. Chatham House (Working group paper) – Raising and Spending Domestic Money for Health

Riku Elovainio and David B. Evans;

http://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/default/files/public/Research/Global%20Health/0513_healthfinance.pdf

A new Working Group paper in the series, this time focusing on raising domestic revenue.

 

In 2010 low income countries spent only $32 per capita on health including public and private spending and that received from external sources. But it is estimated that $60 per capita is required to provide a basic standard of health services to their populations. Some countries have increased the amount of public expenditure on health by introducing measures to increase general tax revenues and thus the scope for more health spending. They have also implemented specific taxes, such as on alcohol and tobacco, and allocated a proportion of the revenues raised to health spending.  There are also a number of strategies countries have adopted which have improved efficiency.  (So a lot is possible in the coming years, but there will remain a gap, especially in the 46 ‘vulnerable’ countries the authors focus on.)

 

13. Lancet – Diarrhoea in children: identifying the cause and burden

Uma chandra mouli Natchu et al.;

http://www.lancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(13)60941-1/fulltext?_eventId=login

The authors of this Lancet piece comment on the Global Enteric Multicenter Study (GEMS) (by Karen Kotloff et al.), coordinated by the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Center for Vaccine Development. This is the largest study ever conducted on diarrheal diseases in developing countries, enrolling more than 20,000 children from seven sites across Asia and Africa.  Natchu et al. list several key findings from the GEMS study that have important public health implications.

 

* In related news, a Plos research article (by Bhutta et al.) lays out research priorities for global child diarrheal disease over the next 15 years, which they developed using the Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative (CHNRI) method.

 

* The Indian government announced  on Tuesday the development of a new low-cost rotavirus vaccine, Rotavac. “The Indian manufacturer of the new rotavirus vaccine pledged to sell it for $1 a dose, a significant discount from the cost of the current vaccines on the market.” The virus will be manufactured by Bharat Biotech, a pharmaceutical firm based in Hyderabad.

 

14. Lancet (Comment) – GBD 2.0: a continuously updated global resource

Christopher JL Murray et al.;

http://www.lancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(13)60225-1/fulltext

In this early online Article in the Lancet, Murray and co describe the future for GBD 2.0.

15. Guardian Global Development – Hans Rosling: the man who’s making data cool

http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2013/may/17/hans-rosling-data-population-fertility

In an interview with the Guardian, Rosling is a bit disappointed about his impact on the knowledge of ordinary citizens, in spite of his dazzling performances of the last decade.  “It’s that I became so famous with so little impact on knowledge,” he says, when asked what’s surprised him most about the reaction he’s received. “Fame is easy to acquire, impact is much more difficult. When we asked the Swedish population how many children are born per woman in Bangladesh, they still think it’s 4-5. I have no impact on knowledge. I have only had impact on fame, and doing funny things, and so on.”

 

16. CGD (Background brief) – Meet the Global Health Family – A Cheat Sheet

Victoria Fan et al.;

http://international.cgdev.org/sites/default/files/CGD-Global-Health-Family-Cheat-Sheet-Final.pdf

Very nice background brief on the global health family, the CGD equivalent of the movie  ‘Meet the Fockers’. (the more important question is then, which institution/foundation is playing the role of Robert De Niro?)

 

Amanda Glassman also wrote a blog post on mobile apps for global health and wonders how important they will be for the global health community.

 

17. Lancet – Offline: The season of infinite madness

Richard Horton;

http://www.lancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(13)61034-X/fulltext

The first meeting of a new Commission on the Future of Health in Africa, led by Peter Piot, met last week in Ghana’s capital city, Accra. Horton describes why this time things could be different.

18. Aids – Universal health coverage and HIV in resource-constrained countries: a critical juncture for research and action

Bernard Taverne et al.;

http://journals.lww.com/aidsonline/Abstract/publishahead/Universal_health_coverage_and_HIV_in.98636.aspx

There’s increasing consensus that UHC needs to be implemented in resource-constrained countries. However, the methods and resources that must be implemented to achieve this are far from being clearly defined; operational research must still be conducted to assess the mechanisms that are best adapted to resource-constrained countries. A common interest is emerging between UHC advocates and heads of AIDS programs around operational research on payment exemption mechanisms for HIV treatment.

 

19. Huffington Post – A Global System in the Making — Six Mind-Changes

Illona Kickbusch;

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-ilona-kickbusch/a-global-system-in-the-ma_b_3268370.html

Kickbusch describes six key mind-changes emerging from the ongoing global post-2015 conversation. Some of them apply to global health issues, other are broader. (by the way, Kickbusch seems to be a big fan of mindfulness too; maybe post-2015, every global health event could start with a mindfulness-session?)

20. Globalization & Health – Emergence of multilateral proto-institutions in global health and new approaches to governance: analysis using path dependency and institutional theory

Eduardo J. Gomez & Rifat Atun;

http://www.globalizationandhealth.com/content/9/1/18/abstract

The authors argue that historical analysis of the origins of multilateral donor agencies in global health and their coalition formation processes can help to explain  differences. They find that two new multilateral donor agencies that were created by a diverse coalition of state and non-state actors, such as the Global Fund and GAVI, what they call proto-institutions, were more adaptive in strengthening their governance processes. This contrasts with two well-established multilateral donor agencies, such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, what they call Bretton Woods (BW) institutions, which were created by nation states alone; and hence, have different origins and consequently different path dependent processes.

 

21. NYT – How austerity kills

David Stuckler & Sanjay Basu;

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/13/opinion/how-austerity-kills.html?ref=global&_r=0

In this NYT op-ed, Stuckler & Basu give some of the key findings of their book “The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills”. Basu did the same on his blog Epianalysis.   (for the opposite view, see for example this article in the New Republic).

 

22. Huffington Post- Shooting Itself In the Foot: The Broken Promises of the U.S. Trade Agenda

Tido von Schoenangerer;

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tido-von-schoenangerer/shooting-itself-in-the-fo_b_959847.html

As United States trade representatives thrash out an international trade deal in Chicago, truly ominous developments are unfolding behind the scenes, the man with the most wonderful name in global health, Tido von Schoenangerer says. Leaked drafts of the U.S. position show that the government is pushing provisions to tighten intellectual property laws that will make price-busting generic competition impossible. In short, the U.S. is pushing to severely restrict access to affordable medicines where they are needed most – in the developing world.

 

23. FT – India: Patents and precedents

Amy Kazmin;

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/36c22356-b422-11e2-ace9-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2TNpT9400

In an in-depth article, the Financial Times examines how the “struggle of educated, middle-class patients to obtain cutting-edge medicine … has led to a showdown between India and western pharmaceutical companies over the patents and prices of lifesaving drugs” in the country. “Western drugmakers fear India will inspire other emerging markets to challenge their patents.” The FT provides a history of drug patent issues in India, discusses the implications of the current debate on drug markets, and highlights how issues in the country’s health care sector are contributing to the problem.

 

24. Scidev.net – WHO approves synthetic source of artemisinin

http://www.scidev.net/en/health/malaria/news/who-approves-synthetic-source-of-artemisinin.html

Last week, WHO’s Prequalification of Medicines Programme accepted artemisinin derived from a process involving ‘synthetic biology’. This paves the way for improved access to affordable treatment against malaria in developing countries.

 

25. SF gate – Chinese Pharma Giant Launches Mobile Phone Anti-Counterfeiting Crusade in Africa

http://www.sfgate.com/business/prweb/article/Chinese-Pharma-Giant-Launches-Mobile-Phone-4517428.php

A Chinese drug company launches an SMS-based system to fight counterfeits of its anti-malaria drug in Africa.

 

Blogs with book reviews & reports on global health events

 

26. Economic and political weekly – Unhealthy health governance –

Ravi Duggal;

http://www.epw.in/book-reviews/unhealthy-health-governance.html

Duggal (PHM) reviews the book Global Health Governance by Jeremy Youde.

 

Check out also the review of the book ‘The human right to health’ (a book by Jonathan Wolff) on Global Health Governance.

 

27. Uio – “Global Health – Beyond 2015” – Reflections from the Youth Commission

http://www.med.uio.no/helsam/english/research/global-governance-health/news/globalhealth-beyond2015.html

Renzo Guinto, Waruguru Wanjau, Nilofer Khan Habibullah and Usman Mushtaq are members of The Lancet-UiO Youth Commission. They participated as speakers and workshop organizers during the “Global Health – Beyond 2015” conference in Stockholm on April 4 and 5. In this nice blog post, they reflect on the conference.

 

28. Plos (blog) – Médecins Sans Frontières Scientific Day 2013

Lindsay Kobayashi;

http://blogs.plos.org/publichealth/2013/05/14/msf-2013/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+plos%2Fblogs%2Fblogosphere+%28Blogs+-+Blogosphere%29

Kobayashi gives a quick run-down of MSF’s scientific day which took place last week (on May 10th).

 

Global health bits & pieces

 

* A UNICEF conference on child malnutrition – which wrapped up Wednesday in Paris – estimates the price tag of chronic malnutrition for SSA on 25 billion a year.

 

* The Taliban renounces war on polio workers (but it’s not clear to me whether this only pertains to the Afghan Taliban or also the Pakistan Taliban (conflicting messages in the media)).

 

*  The U.N. and its partners announced that tetanus has been eliminated in more than 30 countries with previously high rates of the illness. “The broad-based Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus Elimination Initiative, in which various United Nations agencies participate, said that since 1999, over 118 million women of childbearing age have been vaccinated against tetanus in 52 countries; however, despite the progress in over half the 59 priority countries, some 28 other have still not reached the elimination goal.”

 

 

* David Cameron schedules a G8 summit on dementia in September.  (Great idea)

 

* A while ago, ABC decided not to renew a 1.5 million grant from the Gates Foundation to improve coverage of global health and development. (“apparently, the stories won prizes but ABC discovered that viewers weren’t watching. They were leaving the TV to get snacks or go to the bathroom”, this CGD

blog post reports).

 

 

* AFHEA  (the African Health Economics and Policy Association)   holds its third international conference in March 2014, ‘The Post-2015 African Health Agenda and UHC: Opportunities and Challenges’. For the call for abstracts, see  here.

 

 

Miscellaneous

 

* This week the High-level Panel meeting in New York took place. The high-level panel, co-chaired by David Cameron, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, is due to present its report on 30 May to the Secretary-General. The final report is expected to recognise that the old development model in which rich countries dispense aid and tell poor countries how to spend it no longer works. The report is expected to reflect a more equal partnership between rich and poor countries. Yesterday, the UN News centre reported on the High-Level Panel meeting. A statement released after the conclusion of the three-day meeting, said the panel reiterated ‘the imperative need for a renewed global partnership that enables a transformative, people-centered and planet-sensitive development agenda, realized through the equal partnership of all stakeholders.

 

* ODI has a series on measuring poverty – see for example Martin Ravaillon’s blog post.

 

* The Africa Progress Panel, chaired by Kofi Annan, has launched the 2013 Africa Progress Report, “Equity in Extractives,” highlighting the devastating impact of tax avoidance and evasion, corruption and weak governance on economic development and poverty alleviation across the resource-rich continent.” Both African governments and rich countries have a role to play to do something about this.

 

 

* Meanwhile, for some early results of the global post-2015 consultation of citizens, this is what the world thinks. Health is very high on citizens’ agendas – consistently in the top three of priorities.

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