Dear Colleagues,

 

In a week overshadowed by the massacre in Egypt, Russia’s anti-gay law and MSF’s  pullout from Somalia, there was only one real global health highlight: the publication of the new World Health Report on research for UHC. We obviously welcome this new report, as UHC needs to be an essential aim post-2015, both in developed countries and in LMICs, and research will indeed be vital to make it a reality in all countries. This newsletter will thus pay quite some attention to the report which was launched in Beijing on August 15. As far as we know, there were no leaks before the release date (apart from the ones in the roof of the WHO premises in Geneva, perhaps). No leaks, that’s quite an accomplishment in this era, as the IPCC panel, Obama,  or, more recently, Lady Gaga can testify. It appears there’s no Bradley Manning or Edward Snowden working in the WHO compounds in Geneva (yet?), or perhaps all WHO staff firmly share the UHC vision of their boss. Other plausible or implausible hypotheses are that the location of the launch, Beijing, had something to do with it, or that not exactly the whole world had been waiting for this new World Health Report and that nobody thus bothered to leak parts of it. These days, “to be leaked or not”, that’s the question. A 21st century version of Descartes would declare: “My reports are being leaked, so I exist”. In case you hadn’t noticed, we have just stumbled upon a new ‘performance indicator’ to measure a global health stakeholder’s relevance and value for money.

 

Anyway, we understand why WHO dedicated its new World Health report to research for UHC. As already mentioned, UHC is extremely important for all human beings and research for UHC is thus a very relevant and timely topic. Also, we understand that these days, every global health stakeholder just needs to have its own “unique selling proposition”. In the case of WHO, UHC currently fits the bill. So we don’t blame the organisation for dedicating yet another flagship report to UHC. Also, it’s politically an important “statement”, towards decision makers around the world.

 

However, we also think that if you consider the name of the report, ‘World health report’, in this era of a quickly deteriorating planetary ecosystem, you can’t escape the conclusion that a World Health Report on the state of the planet and the direction we’re  heading for (if we don’t change our ways), is more than urgent too. Or perhaps, WHO should think of setting up a ‘Commission on a Sustainable Future’ (like the Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, or the one on Social Determinants), to tackle the issue of a sustainable world economy and its links with health for the generations after us. For all the good that capitalism has brought (many of us) over the last centuries, if we don’t reinvent it (some might say, shelve it), we’re doomed, no matter how much we ‘greenwash’ our economies via green growth and the like, and no matter how much we talk about the need for “more sustainable consumption and production patterns” in glossy reports. WHO cannot just leave it to the IPCC and urgently needs to talk about this enormous challenge in a high profile report (why not hire Tim Jackson to be one of the lead authors?). In spite of the first paragraph, we believe people around the world still care if WHO “talks” (although it obviously helps if Chan et al smuggle in a few viruses and looming pandemics in their public statements). In sum, we hope the next World Health Report will show UHC, a healthy planet and a truly sustainable economy are linked.

 

Just two examples to show that humanity still hasn’t learned its lesson: the mainstream media in Europe are cheering because there’s again, albeit fragile, “growth” (0.3 % in the last quarter, hurray!), and at a more personal level, my son is once again whining endlessly to get yet another piece of I-Rubbish. He doesn’t care much when I tell him about the way many of these gadgets are being produced (in the country he was born in!), or how he (or rather me) actually pays way too much in order to get the latest version… On the bright side: my son’s is good news for the GDP of our economy (but not exactly for my own wallet).

 

In this week’s guest editorial, the third instalment in our series on the global wave of uprisings, EV 2010 & 2012 Vincent Okungu attempts to deconstruct the lack of uprisings similar to the ‘Arab Springs’ in Sub-Saharan Africa despite the region facing grievous social, economic and political injustices from their own leaders. As usual, he doesn’t mince words. In a future (follow-up) blog post, he will explore how SSA leadership has affected health care.

 

 

 

Enjoy your reading.

 

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

 

 

Editorial

 

 

Drawing Parallels: Why Drought Persists in Sub-Saharan Africa amidst Arab Springs

 

By Vincent Okungu (Health Economist, EV 2010, 2012)

 

 

In “The State of Africa”, Martin Meredith paints familiar yet petrifying pictures of the economic and social degeneracy of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) by successive post-independence leaders. According to Meredith, and of course many other authors, the rise of a promising continent has been stifled by a legion of kleptocrats who ran and continue to run their respective countries like gangsters, dashing the hopes of millions who saw in them heroes who would deliver them to the Promised Land. North to South, East to West, none is worth emulating: From Mobutu to Kenyatta, Obiang Nguema to Abacha, Sossou Ngueso to Haile Selassie, ‘Emperor’ Bokassa to Mugabe, Kamuzu Banda to Moi, Idris Deby, Hissene Habre, Siad Barre, Idi Amin, Museveni: they (and successors) set a pattern of leadership whose mantra remains simple: steal as much as possible and use the wealth to retain power at all costs. Kleptocracy quickly transformed into plutocracy (rule by the wealthy) or simply into “kleptoplutocracy” (rule by wealthy thieves). After all, the chief has to be the wealthiest and fattest citizen, even if that means robbing the state and starving infants and their mothers. And so taxpayers’ money and donor aid have been “swallowed…by the billions” without any qualms to morality. The consequences have been tragic: destitution, disease, famine, endless armed conflicts and massive brain drain.

 

What many a spectator is asking is why people in SSA are not emulating the Arabs to overthrow these nefarious brutes who have brought nothing but generational misery to their citizens.

 

There are various explanations: First, SSA is largely agrarian, which makes it difficult not only to pass information in several different languages but also to mobilise large numbers of people for collective action (revolution). To draw parallels, the Arab Springs have been facilitated by large cities: Alexandria and Cairo (Egypt), Tunis and Sfax (Tunisia), Benghazi against Tripoli (Libya), Aleppo and Homs vs. Damascus (Syria). Sub-Saharan Africa (except South Africa) is largely rural and too agrarian, and it is difficult to mobilise such societies towards a course that reflects more on a monetised polity (read urban). The effects of unemployment, high food prices, income inequality and poor housing for example, are felt more in urban than rural areas. True, there is increasing urbanization in SSA but large and expanding SSA cities such as Nairobi, Lagos and Abuja cannot support a revolution because of divisions among the population.

 

Moreover, the agrarian population of SSA is too poor, too disease-prone, poorly educated and too divided to think of a revolution. The struggle to put food on the table (if not to get medicine) preoccupies most Sub-Saharan citizens. A violent uprising is too remote, too energy-supping for this population that has been impoverished by their leaders. Besides, these populations have very low levels of education yet their respective countries have mostly failed to translate national constitutions into vernacular languages. These have made it difficult for citizens to demand for their rights and to understand that political leaders have much to do with their miseries. Even for countries such as Zimbabwe with high levels of education, a revolution is no easy feat because there are only two but bitterly divided ethnic groups, which leaves no space for coalitions and alliances to remove Mugabe. In Equatorial Guinea, almost 90% of the population is Fang, who cannot rise up against one of their own. In Somalia, there is only one ethnic group (Somali) but besides opposition to a Western backed administration, there are bitter divisions among clans, which make the 22-year old war difficult to end.

 

Thirdly, the Arab Springs have been essentially masterminded by a large and united middle-class. In SSA, there is a small and deeply divided middle-class, mainly along ethnic lines, or one that is too intimidated, to chart a common course: in Kenya, Nigeria, DRC, Uganda, Ethiopia, etc. A revolution requires unity, at least for some time. The overall picture of SSA middle-class is that of a group possessing a mind too weak and too narrow to raise themselves above cultural perimeters. So you get cantankerous tribalists in politicians, company executives, research scientists, PhD holders and professors, whose vision of the state starts and ends in their villages. These archaic cultural residues have whipped up ethnic emotions into mass hysteria and hatred against different cultures (tribes). A similar trend is sadly emerging in South Africa, Africa’s social and economic inspiration. South Africa looks increasingly polarised between haves and have-nots, black and white, tribe against tribe. The black political and economic elite need to prioritise national unity and development, not the ‘self’.

 

The fourth point is that the Arab Springs are a response to the need for greater liberty and democracy. In a recent lecture, Ali Mazrui describes them as “democratisation from below” with the middle-class rising up against long-term authoritarianism. For SSA, the relative freedom and democracy taking root are the good results of protracted Western pressure for change that started long ago, i.e. immediately after the end of the Cold War; I call it ‘democratisation from the side’. It is only in Turkey where democratisation started from ‘above’. The propensity to war is reduced in more democratic societies unless of course there are Western linked conflicts such as in D.R. Congo or where ethnic groups rise against each other.

 

The last point that militates against an Arab Spring political emulation in SSA emanates from the African culture of respect for elders. An elder in this context is one older in age or one in position of authority. The blind respect even for thieving elders has established the specifically authoritarian mentality of the African “Big Man”, and the typically submissive state of mind of many of their African subjects, both educated and uneducated. Need I emphasise that a country is shaped by the strength of its institutions, both formal and informal: the judiciary, the executive, the legislature, traditions and cultural norms. The ‘Big Man’, presiding over a submissive, praise-singing lot, ran roughshod over these institutions, rendering them weak and inoperable. Few people dare complain, even when the ‘main chief’ transforms into the ‘main thief’.

 

There are, however, promising signs of departure from high level debauchery in SSA: Botswana, Rwanda, Namibia, Gabon and Ghana, seem to be turning the corner to prosperity, prioritising the nation rather than ethnicity and thievery. South Africa is in danger of going in the opposite direction unless the political elite think about the way forward for South Africa and not the way forward for individual greed. Kenya on its part is too steeped in tribalism to understand the need for unity in development. All in all, citizens of SSA need to understand that their unity is a key pillar in social and economic development, for in unity they will strengthen institutions of governance and tame the excesses of the ‘Big Man’.


World Health Report 2013 : Research for UHC

As already mentioned in the intro, the new World Health Report was launched this week. Silly season or not, we trust you will all go through it in the coming days.

 

You find the press release  here as well as the speech by Margaret Chan at the launch in Beijing. In sync with the times, she said that “all countries must be producers as well as consumers of research”. A nice short summary can also be found in this BMJ news article on the report. As for some main messages, according to WHO, see here.

 

Just to give you a flavour, we distil three key messages from the executive summary:

 

  • Universal health coverage, with full access to high-quality services for health promotion, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, palliation and financial risk protection, cannot be achieved without evidence from research. Research has the power to address a wide range of questions about how we can reach universal coverage, providing answers to improve human health, well-being and development.
  • All nations should be producers of research as well as consumers. The creativity and skills of researchers should be used to strengthen investigations not only in academic centres but also in public health programmes, close to the supply of and demand for health services.
  • Research for universal health coverage requires national and international backing. To make the best use of limited resources, systems are needed to develop national research agendas, to raise funds, to strengthen research capacity, and to make appropriate and effective use of research findings.

 

 

PS: we hope to offer you an IHP blog post from an erudite colleague early next week (who happened to be slightly underwhelmed by the report after a first scan). Stay tuned for this on IHP.

Other UHC news/articles & post-MDGs

 

1.    Lancet (Viewpoint) – What does universal health coverage mean?

Thomas O’Connell et al.;

http://www.lancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(13)60955-1/fulltext?_eventId=login

This viewpoint tries to define each term—universal, health, and coverage—that provokes discrepancies in interpretation. “The term universal necessitates a focus on equity, with the path to UHC explicitly a gap-narrowing one that prioritises the attainment of greatly improved health outcomes for those who are at present left behind. Similarly, the term health must take into account social determinants, including beliefs, values, and expressed needs of various subpopulations, and consider how actions beyond the health sector can be implemented. For the term coverage, its results must be considered, moving from measurement of access to assessment of utilisation, appropriateness, and quality.”…” Finally, consistent participation of civil society and the private sector, with government and development partners, is essential to forge a true consensus about what UHC means within each country, so that the relevant causal pathways and mechanisms hindering and enabling UHC can be fully diagnosed.” Nice piece.

 

 

2.    MMI Discussion paper –  Questions and answers on Universal Health Coverage …and some more comments and open questions

http://www.medicusmundi.org/en/contributions/news/2013/mmi-uhc-discussion-paper/uhc-mmi-discussion-paper-august-2013.pdf

The Medicus Mundi International Network (MMI) has followed the UHC debate in recent years with great interest, as the “UHC hype” brought health systems strengthening, a core concern of MMI, back to the top of the global health agenda.

This discussion paper presents key elements of the concept of UHC as promoted by WHO and reflects on them based on MMI’s own ambition of Health for All such as stated in the MMI Network Policy. There are three sections. Feedback is welcome.

 

3.    Development Progress – Keeping the value of the MDGs and addressing their shortcomings – the challenge post-2015 in health

Kumanan Rasanathan;

http://www.developmentprogress.org/blog/2013/08/14/keeping-value-mdgs-and-addressing-their-shortcomings-%E2%80%93-challenge-post-2015-health

Dr Kumanan Rasanathan is a public health physician who works in the Health Section at UNICEF in New York, where he is UNICEF’s focal point for post-2015 health. He reflects on the HLP report in this blog.

4.    Plos – Reproductive and Maternal Health in the Post-2015 Era: Cervical Cancer Must Be a Priority

Ruby Singhrao et al.;

http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1001499;jsessionid=01E6D982948D3CAEE51B9712C55E60E2

Ruby Singhrao and colleagues propose four arguments for why cervical cancer screening and treatment should be prioritized.

NCDs

 

5.    WHO – Global coordination mechanism for NCDs

http://www.who.int/nmh/events/ncd_coordination_mechanism/en/index.html

In consultation with Member States, the WHO Secretariat plans to develop a global mechanism for NCDs, as outlined in paragraphs 14-15 of the WHO Global NCD Action Plan 2013-2020 (resolution WHA66.10). The purpose of the proposed global mechanism is to improve coordination of activities which address functional gaps that are barriers to the prevention and control of NCDs. The global coordination mechanism is to be developed based on a number of parameters.

 

In other NCD related news, a Plos Collection on the Global Challenges of NCDs was put online this week. This Collection brings together research and commentary published in PLOS Medicine over 2013 that examines the global challenges and opportunities for addressing noncommunicable disease around the world. The Collection will be updated periodically with new research and commentary on NCDs published in PLOS Medicine.

6.    Time – Africa’s Drinking Problem: Alcoholism on the Rise as Beverage Multinationals Circle

http://world.time.com/2013/08/09/africas-drinking-problem-alcoholism-on-the-rise-as-beverage-multinationals-circle/#ixzz2bknUZMsW

TIME examines a rise in alcoholism rates in Africa, which boasts “the highest proportion of binge drinkers in the world”. PHC providers aren’t ready for the challenge, although governments are starting to address the issue.

 

7.    Lancet (Editorial) – Cardiovascular health for all

http://www.lancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(13)61730-4/fulltext

This Lancet editorial introduces the Lancet series on care of patients with cardiovascular disease and says cardiovascular disease in women shouldn’t be overlooked, not the least in LMICs.

8.    Project Syndicate – Mental health for all

Anthony Jorm;

http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/the-global-imperative-for-mental-health-first-aid-training-by-anthony-jorm

Now that we’re at it, ‘mental health for all’ is extremely important too, post-2015. The author of this viewpoint has it right, in many ways. “In developed and developing countries alike, the scope of the problem is too large to be left exclusively to mental-health professionals. Every member of the community must be empowered to protect and improve their own mental health, and that of those around them.”

 

 

HIV, TB, malaria

 

9.    Global Fund – Message to Board Members from Chair and Vice Chair

Chair & Vice chair of the Global Fund;

http://www.theglobalfund.org/en/mediacenter/announcements/2013-08-09_Message_to_Board_Members_from_Chair_and_Vice_Chair/

The Chair and Vice Chair of the Global Fund have written to Board members to inform them where they believe they should focus as Board Chair and Vice Chair over the next two years. The message sets out principles that should underlie their work in the coming two years, including focusing the work of the Board at a strategic level, and working to build complementarity between the work of the Board and Secretariat. The priorities are set around the core functions of the Board leadership: setting strategic direction; enhancing effective governance and oversight; committing and managing financial resources; assessing organizational performance; risk management; and mobilizing resources and strengthening partnerships.

 

 

 

For coverage of the letter by David Garmaise (Aidspan), see here.

 

10. UNAIDS – Chinese business leaders committed to the HIV response

http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/presscentre/featurestories/2013/august/20130814chinesebusinessleaders/

On 14 August, Michel Sidibé presented awards to the CEOs of six of China’s largest companies in recognition of their contributions to China’s AIDS response. He was meeting with some of China’s leading CEOs at the Beijing secretariat of the China Red Ribbon Foundation.

 

11. Lancet (Global Health blog) – A brutal murder recalls need for laws that protect LGBTI people

Mandeep Dhaliwal;

http://globalhealth.thelancet.com/2013/08/13/brutal-murder-recalls-need-laws-protect-lgbti-people

Despite the remarkable progress achieved by HIV prevention and treatment responses, the brutal murder of a prominent AIDS activist in Cameroon serves as a stark reminder of the work that still lies ahead, the Director of UNDP’s HIV, Health & Development Practice says.

12. Mail & Guardian – Comment: Common sense needed in HIV fight

Alex Welte;

http://mg.co.za/article/2013-07-19-00-comment-common-sense-needed-in-hiv-fight

Alex Welte, director of the department of science and technology and the National Research Foundation Centre of Excellence in Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis at the University of Stellenbosch, says the recent international Aids conference in Kuala Lumpur lacked input from those living with the HIV virus.

 

13. Washington Post (Op-ed) – Malaria vaccine shows promise

Michael Gerson;

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/michael-gerson-malaria-vaccine-shows-promise/2013/08/12/44367a68-036a-11e3-9259-e2aafe5a5f84_story.html?wprss=rss_opinions

Interesting op-ed by Gerson on last week’s encouraging malaria vaccine news.

 

14. Science Speaks – Study: PEPFAR focus countries saw significant impact on TB sickness and deaths

Antigone Barton;

http://sciencespeaksblog.org/2013/08/09/study-pepfar-focus-countries-saw-significant-drops-in-tb-sickness-and-deaths/

Barton reports on a study published last week in the Journal of Infectious Diseases that compared data from 12 PEPFAR focus countries with data from 29 control countries to examine the potential impact of PEPFAR funding on the tuberculosis  epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. The researchers compared TB incidence and mortality rates from periods before and after PEPFAR implementation, and they found both have fallen significantly and to a higher degree in PEPFAR focus countries.

 

 

Health Policy & Financing

 

15. Lancet (World Report) – Obama Administration races to meet key ACA deadline

Susan Jaffe;

http://www.lancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(13)61723-7/fulltext

Despite delaying some provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the US Government says it is on target to begin enrolling millions of Americans in the law’s new health coverage. Susan Jaffe reports. The article details the progress and delays in the roll out of ACA, ahead of a key implementation deadline. Starting October 1, state or federally run online competitive insurance marketplaces will be selling dozens of private health insurance policies that provide at least the “essential health benefits”, including maternity care, required under the law.

 

16. HP&P (August Issue) – Editorial

Sara Bennett et al.;

http://heapol.oxfordjournals.org/content/28/5/453.full

This editorial reports on a ‘Health Policy & Planning’ editorial meeting in March. As this is a very important journal for many of our readers, we offer here some excerpts: “The core aim of the journal is to generate high-quality health policy and systems research that informs policy and practice. To reflect this we have decided to change the tagline from ‘a journal on health in development’ to ‘a journal on health policy and systems research’ “.

 

New sections to the journal’s existing article categories include: ‘methodological musings’—designed to support discussion of research methods in health policy and systems research; ‘research in practice’—an opportunity for policy makers/programme managers to reflect on their experiences of translating research into practice; ‘short reports’ on topical issues in the field and review articles addressing recent advances in health policy and systems research and implementation. …

 

…A key question that arose during the meeting was how the journal can contribute to the development of the field of health policy and systems research. The editors also discussed how they could better support emerging researchers, particularly those in low- and middle-income countries.

 

The new August issue also features the (already published online in September 2012) article on the ‘ten best resources on Pay for Performance in LMICs’.

 

17. New blog, linked to the journal HP&P – Health Policy and Planning debated

https://blogs.lshtm.ac.uk/hppdebated/

This brand new blog, linked to the journal HP&P, is one way to involve young researchers from LMICs, according to the editors. Check it out!

 

The blog already features a number of articles, for example one by Jeremy Shiffman on a recent article by him and his team in HP&P (questioning how strongly committed global organizations are to HSS), and another neat blog post by Josephine Borghi on ‘PBF as magic bullets for Health systems change?’ In it, she says the  evidence base of PBF in LMICs still remains weak. She comments on a recent PBF study in Cambodia.

 

18. BMJ (news) – Sanofi is investigated for allegedly bribing doctors in China

Nigel Hawkes;

http://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f5074

Sanofi, the largest French drug manufacturer, has been drawn into growing anti-bribery investigations in China after a newspaper there published a whistleblower’s claims that it had paid 1.6m yuan $261 000) to more than 500 doctors at 79 hospitals in 2007.  (who said the French don’t know how to be competitive?)

 

19. CDC (EID) – The New Global Health

Kevin M. De Cock et al.;

http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/19/8/pdfs/13-0121.pdf

In this Perspective, De Cock et al. say the “new global health” requires broader engagement by health organizations and all countries for the objectives of health

equity, access, and coverage as post-MDG priorities are set. Three overlapping themes determine global health action and prioritization: development, security, and public health.

 

20. Scidev.net – China eyes health research cooperation with Africa

http://www.scidev.net/global/medicine/scidev-net-at-large/china-eyes-health-research-cooperation-with-africa.html

China plans to improve the health services it provides in Africa and expand its medical aid there, according to the International Cooperation unit at China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission. Scidev.net reports.

 

21. TMIH (Editorial) – Climate change, child health and the role of the paediatric profession in under-resourced settings

Karen Kiang et al.;

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/tmi.12153/full

Climate change and its health impacts are increasingly recognised by the world’s leading medical organisations and journals. However, to date, there has been insufficient focus on the health impacts on children, and even less so on the role of paediatric health professionals, in under-resourced settings.

 

22. PHM – International People’s Health University – Online: The Struggle for Health

http://www.phmovement.org/en/node/7709

End of June, over 170 health activists from across the globe started the International People’s Health University – Online (IPOL). 8 topics such as Activism, The Political Economy of Health, Health Services and Health Systems, the Social Determinants of Health and the Right to Health are being covered over a period of 16 weeks. Each of the webinars will be posted; the first Youtube webinars are online now. Check them out.

 

23. Global health corps (Fellows blog) – A case for investment in local pharma in Africa

Brian Ngwatu;

http://ghcorps.org/a-case-for-investment-in-local-pharma-in-africa/

Brian Ngwatu from Uganda argues for increased investment in the local pharmaceutical production industry in Africa. Nice blog post.

 

24. UNAIDS – Experts in Southern and Eastern Africa call for renewed commitment on sexuality education and health services

http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/presscentre/featurestories/2013/august/20130809tlou/

At a recent meeting in Botswana, a high-level group of education and sexual reproductive health experts from Eastern and Southern Africa highlighted the need for good quality, gender-sensitive sexuality education that prepares adolescents for puberty and relationships and prevents unintended pregnancy and HIV. They also called on the region’s health and education ministers to sign a new commitment to work closely together to improve access to high quality sexuality education and health services. This commitment, due to be signed in December 2013 ahead of the International Conference on AIDS in Africa, will demand that countries look at young people’s needs with more openness, and be willing to re-examine social norms about young people’s sexuality.

 

Global Health bits & pieces

 

  • MSF pulled out from Somalia (see the Guardian). This is only the second time this happens in the history of the organization (after Afghanistan in 2004).

 

  • In Egypt, in – sadly – increasingly familiar news, also ‘Egyptian rescue workers are in the line of fire’.  Irin reports.

 

  • Jeffrey Sachs is happy his MVP (not ‘Most Valuable Player’) gets extra funding from the Islamic Development Bank (see the Guardian ). The Islamic Development Bank is to provide $104 million in loans to African governments to fund an expansion of Millennium Villages.

 

 

  • On 12 August, International Youth day was celebrated (see for example this Feature article on the UNAIDS website, arguing for youth as ‘change agents’).

 

  • Aussie aid for Asia-Pacific – The Australian government has committed around $358 million through its AusAID program to help countries in the Asia-Pacific region attain three MDGs — poverty and hunger, universal education and maternal health. (see SciDev.Net )

 

  • E-waste dumping in Africa: last week, Euractiv reported that African nations have called for continent-wide action to staunch the import of electronic waste, including old computers and mobile telephones from Europe where stringent environmental laws make exporting used goods cheaper than disposing of them at home. In a document, African countries that adopted an international convention on hazardous waste called for uniform action to end the import of discarded electronic goods containing dangerous components.
  • Irin examined polio eradication efforts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, highlighting a new vaccination campaign scheduled to begin this month.

 

 

Research

 

25. Plos – Towards Universal Voluntary HIV Testing and Counselling: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Community-Based Approaches

Amitabh Suthar et al.;

http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1001496;jsessionid=01E6D982948D3CAEE51B9712C55E60E2

In a systematic review and meta-analysis, Amitabh Suthar and colleagues describe the evidence base for different HIV testing and counseling services provided outside of health facilities.

26. Health Research Policy & Systems – The financial burden from non-communicable diseases in low- and middle-income countries: a literature review

Hyacinthe Tchewonpi Kankeu et al.;

http://www.health-policy-systems.com/content/11/1/31/abstract

In this paper, the authors present a literature review on the costs imposed by NCDs on households in LMICs.

 

We also want to draw your attention to a new paper in BMC Health Services Research, by our Indian colleague Upendra Bhojani (et al.), on a similar topic. “No longer diseases of the wealthy: prevalence and health seeking for self-reported chronic conditions among urban poor in Southern India.

27. Paper – The Path to Universal Health Coverage – Experiences and Lessons from Japan for Policy Actions –

Kenji Shimazaki;

http://gwweb.jica.go.jp/km/FSubject0601.nsf/cfe2928f2c56e150492571c7002a982c/88747202cb1e004d49257b86002b7e61/$FILE/The%20Path%20to%20Universal%20Health%20Coverage.pdf

How has UHC in Japan been achieved, what are the key factors that made it possible and what are the lessons other countries might find useful? This paper has been written in response to these questions and provides some interesting lessons for LMICs who are also trying to make progress on the path towards UHC.

 

28. Global Public Health – Male circumcision and HIV: A controversy study on facts and values

Kenneth Rochel de Camargo et al.;

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17441692.2013.817599#.Ugo9cpKzKuJ

Probably a nice read in the run-up to the ICASA conference, at the end of this year.

Miscellaneous

 

29. Development Policy Review – The Affordability of Social Protection in the Light of International Spending Commitments

Jessica Hagen-Zanker et al.;

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/dpr.12012/pdf

In recent years a number of international sector-specific agreements have

been developed by the international community and ratified by developing

countries – some with specific spending targets  (including the “Abuja target”). This article offers an empirical analysis of the individual and aggregate affordability of six sectoral targets and, based on the actual or estimated cost of each of the targets,

compares target spending levels with actual government expenditure in five

African countries. Most targets are not met and, while individually ‘affordable’, the estimated cost of meeting the six targets simultaneously indicates that they are not jointly affordable, with an estimated cost of more than 100% of total government expenditure in four of the five countries. Meeting any of the sectoral targets in full would require either sectoral trade-offs, or significant increases in donor or government expenditure.

 

See also a related ODI blog post, by Marcus Manuel, the director of the Budget Strengthening Initiative at the Overseas Development Institutes’ Centre for Aid and Public Expenditure. He stresses the post-2015 development process must be grounded in financial accountability. The first financial data problem he mentions (of 4 in total) is exactly on the issue mentioned above.

30. CGD – A UN Declaration on the Post-2015 Development Agenda

Charles Kenny ;

http://international.cgdev.org/sites/default/files/un-declaration-post-2015-development-agenda.pdf

In this essay, CGD fellow Charles Kenny proposes that—instead of getting bogged down hammering out details of how to measure progress—the UN craft a new consensus statement to replace the original Millennium Declaration. Kenny proposes such a statement in this document and provides commentary in the margins.

 

31. CGD (Publication) – Promoting Millennium Development Ideals: The Risks of Defining Development Down

Lant Pritchett & Charles Kenny;

http://international.cgdev.org/sites/default/files/Pritchett_Kenny_md-ideals_wcvr.pdf

It’s clear the CGD boys and girls are back from holidays. The authors of this paper argue that the post- 2015 development framework for development should include “Millennium Development Ideals” which put into measurable form the high aspirations countries have for the well-being of their citizens. They should complement low-bar targets like the existing MDGs (and their likely successors).

 

Finally:

 

  • Oxfam’s Duncan Green wrote a nice contribution on why NGOs label technology as nasty or nice (see  Sci.Dev.net).

 

  • Owen Barder reflects on the science of delivery, from a complexity point of view (in a CGD blog post)

 

  • The Guardian’s Mark Tran assesses how things are going with the Global partnership on aid effectiveness, set up in Busan (not very well, it appears). See  here.

 

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