Dear Colleagues,

 

We’ll keep it short in this week’s intro as we assume all of you are gearing up for the (well deserved) holiday period. In case you’re interested in my Christmas wishes, aimed primarily (but not solely) at young global health voices, see here.

Now that the EV 2013 venture (which was organized in the run-up to ICASA) is over, I would like to remind all of you of the upcoming EV 2014 venture which will again take place in Cape town, in September next year, but this time linked to the (third) Global Health Systems research symposium. You find the call here. The deadline is March 3rd.

In this week’s newsletter, we pay some attention to the ‘Health systems in Asia’ conference in Singapore (including with a guest editorial from former EVs) –check out also the hashtag #healthsysasia as there was quite some Twitter activity over there, especially at the (fabulous) closing plenary.

At ITM in Antwerp, the annual  International Association of Health Policy ( IAHP ) conference took place earlier this week. People from all over the world (but mostly from Latin America) were invited to give their take on austerity in Europe and how it affects health care, the negotiations on suspicious trade agreements (like TTIP), the hidden (or not so hidden) ongoing privatization of European health systems, and more. As we know from the headlines in the media, European social protection in health care is increasingly being jeopardized, and Latin Americans, but also people from Argentina, Turkey, … gave their view based on the experiences in their countries. Similarities between different eras were obvious, even if all acknowledged this is at least in some respects a different era. A great example of ‘reverse learning’, nevertheless, or as our director would have it, ‘Switching the Poles’. As long as we don’t end up like the Arctic 30, we’re ok with that. So hopefully we’ll see more of this reverse learning in the future.

 

Merry Christmas!

 

Enjoy your reading.

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

 

Editorial

 

Holiday Gifts

 

Beverly Ho & Taufique Joarder (EVs 2012 & 2010), with some inputs from other EVs

 

Between 13-16 December 2013, some of us, Emerging Voices from the 2010 and/or 2012 EV venture, attended the second Health Systems in Asia  conference in Singapore as oral and/or poster presenters. As is well known, the global health community has been quite successful in putting forward the UHC agenda at the forefront of issues in many countries. And indeed, many countries have begun their (sometimes painful) acceleration towards UHC. Asian countries are no exception.

The conference’s many plenary and parallel sessions highlighted key themes/issues which we outline below. Evidence to guide countries exists for some of these; but definitely not a lot. Thus, in the spirit of the season, we identified a potential ‘evidence’ wish list for countries facing the herculean task of UHC.

 

–          Managing Pluralism. Tim Evans’ plenary lecture on pluralistic health systems emphasized the inevitability of this feature as countries navigate the path towards UHC. A key challenge here is balancing a participatory approach with rigour and efficiency, lest you end up overconsulting. Throughout the conference, country after country showed that they are grappling with finding the appropriate governance structure, regulatory mechanisms and sustainable capacity to manage pluralistic systems.  By ‘sustainable capacity’ we refer here to management capacity – both for inter and intra-organizational issues – which is so often overlooked.

–          Service Delivery as key to UHC. Toomas Palu pointed out that the breadth part of UHC is very much hyped, when the core of UHC is really delivering the most appropriate health-related services to the right person at the right time at a cost that will not lead to impoverishment. But can countries really accelerate towards UHC even with a rudimentary service delivery network or wanting health infrastructure? If so, how fast can this happen? Is there a need to reinvent our systems so that we don’t simply make more of the same health facilities or scale up HRH production like what is currently being done just because we’re catching up! What system innovations are there to scale up service delivery?  We need bold ideas; we need to transform the way service is delivered. Related to this is another issue that Tim Evans raised – that perhaps tracking OOP may not be as important as impoverishment and catastrophic spending.

–          Ensuring Access to Medicines. Maryam Bigdeli actively described the issues surrounding access to medicines in her (many) tweets. Admittedly, addressing medicine access is one of the most underrated or overlooked supply side interventions.In the context of the NCD epidemic, we certainly need to expand access to medicines and keep the pharmacists well-represented in health system debates. And NCDs are just one example, there are many other issues for which you can make the same case.

Indeed, so much more needs to be done. This holiday season, we are reminded of the importance of giving. Ideally, we shouldn’t only give during this festive season but throughout the year. And as we in the research community are expected to “give” evidence, may we ensure that what we offer is not only technically sound but also practical, socially relevant and truly responsive to our consumers’ needs.

 

 


 

Health Systems in Asia conference

 

1.    Future Health Systems – The 4 Cs of the Health systems in Asia Conference

Jeff Knezovich; http://www.futurehealthsystems.org/blog/2013/12/18/the-4cs-of-the-health-systems-in-asia-conference.html

In this blog post, Knezovich provides his 4 take-aways from the ‘Health Systems in Asia’ conference in Singapore. Very nice blog post.

 

2.    IHP – Health Systems Research from Beijing to Cape Town via Singapore

Maryam Bigdeli; http://archief.internationalhealthpolicies.org/archives/health-systems-research-beijing-cape-town-singapore/

Maryam Bigdeli gives her take on the Health Systems in Asia conference, with obviously a prominent role for medicines.

 

IAHP 2013 conference in Antwerp

 

( summary by Pierre De Paepe (ITM))

 

Health Care, not a commercial good”: this was the theme of an international meeting on 15-17 December, at ITM, sponsored by the IAHP (the International Association of Health Policy), the Belgian cooperation, the UCL and ITM. We had three days of heated debate around the threat of ongoing commodification of health care in the general framework of the economic crisis in Europe. About 20 leading public health experts from the Americas were invited: a south-north cooperation, really switching the poles. Latin America suffered the first wave of neoliberal reforms in the health sector in the eighties and nineties, and lessons can be learned on how to resist them. It became clear from the many presentations about health reform in the Americas and Europe that what is happening in Europe, and not only in the PIGS countries but also for instance in England, is an exact copy of structural adjustment measures imposed on Latin America two decades earlier, with dire consequences for the health care sector.

It is evident from experience in Chile, Brazil and Colombia that once the private-for-profit sector is created, it cannot be abolished nor adequately regulated. This goes for Europe too, and the only way to prevent it is to convince politicians that privatisation of health care (even in excellent public health systems like the ones in Spain, Sweden and England) and health insurance is not the right decision. We need to gather more scientific  evidence and to mobilize the population and patients  to defend high quality public health services. It´s called getting research into policy and practice.

A debate took place also on the popular slogan “Universal Health Coverage”. The Conference agreed of course with this noble objective, but only if and when it means universal access to decent health care according to need, and not access to a small benefit package nor through private health insurance companies, a pathway clearly suggested by the Rockefeller Foundation.

 

Post-2015 & UHC

 

3.    Reproductive Health Matters – From Millennium Development Goals to post-2015 sustainable development: sexual and reproductive health and rights in an evolving aid environment

Peter S. Hill et al;

http://www.rhm-elsevier.com/article/S0968-8080(13)42737-4/abstract

Using research from country case studies, this paper offers insights into the range of institutional and structural changes in development assistance between 2005 and 2011, and their impact on the inclusion of a sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) agenda in national planning environments. With increasing competency in higher level planning processes, health officials are now refocusing the post-2015 development goals. If SRHR is to claim engagement across all its multiple elements, advocates need to link them to the key themes of sustainable development: inequalities in gender, education, growth and population, but also to urbanisation, migration, women in employment and climate change.

 

The article is part of the new issue of Reproductive Health Matters.

 

4.    Global Health Check – New World Bank and WHO targets announced on health coverage for the poorest 40 %

Ceri Averill;

http://www.globalhealthcheck.org/?utm_source=Global+Health+Check&utm_campaign=329b82b38a-Global+Health+Check+email&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_89f8d74097-329b82b38a-32678269

The news about the joint WB/WHO framework to monitor progress towards UHC, released at the Tokyo summit earlier this month, was already reported in a previous IHP newsletter, but Oxfam’s Ceri Averill puts it nicely in perspective.

 

5.    CGD – A Results-Based Financing Duo: The World Bank and Global Fund

Victoria Fan & Amanda Glassman;

http://international.cgdev.org/blog/results-based-financing-duo-world-bank-and-global-fund

The CGD fellows comment on the announcement of a stronger partnership for health between the WB & the GF centered around results-based financing.

 

The press releases from the respective organisations, you find  here and  here.

 

6.    Chatham House – UN Health Agencies Need Vision More Than Reform

John Lidén;

http://www.chathamhouse.org/media/comment/view/196350?dm_i=1TYE,22AE5,BM8TVS,7FUA7,1

The call for institutional reform is increasingly replacing the search for bold ideas in addressing global health challenges. What the UN health agencies need is not tinkering, it is vision and courage among their leaders, argues John Lidén. Only Sidibé is an exception (i.e. a UN health leader with vision), he feels.

7.    Reproductive Health Matters –  A global social contract to reduce maternal mortality: the human rights arguments and the case of Uganda

Gorik Ooms et al;

http://www.rhm-elsevier.com/article/S0968-8080(13)42736-2/abstract

Progress towards MDG 5a, reducing maternal deaths by 75% between 1990 and 2015, has been substantial; however, it has been too slow to hope for its achievement by 2015, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, including Uganda. This suggests that both the Government of Uganda and the international community are failing to comply with their right-to-health-related obligations towards the people of Uganda, argue the authors of this article. This country case study explores some of the key issues raised when assessing national and international right-to-health-related obligations (i.e. implications for both the Ugandan government & the international community). The authors propose that the ‘Roadmap on Shared Responsibility and Global Solidarity for AIDS, TB and Malaria Response in Africa’, adopted by the African Union in July 2012, should be seen as an invitation to the international community to conclude a global social contract for health.

8.    IHP – Christmas wishes for young global health voices

Kristof Decoster;

http://archief.internationalhealthpolicies.org/archives/christmas-wishes-young-global-health-voices/

In this blog post, I offer a couple of humble Christmas suggestions to emerging global health voices, with the main one being the hope that they will take the lead in turning the mantra ‘Health in all Policies’ into reality, for example with regards to fossil fuel divestment, curbing of financial sector excesses, discussion of the many ‘happy fliers’ in the global health community, etc.

9.    Plos NTDs – MDGs and NTDs: Reshaping the Global Health Agenda

James Smith et al.; http://www.plosntds.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pntd.0002529

The post-MDG health goals are being negotiated in the coming two years. The authors of this article hope there will be a bigger place for NTDs this time, as compared to the MDGs: “Who the “winners”—those who will benefit from UN endorsement and enhanced funding—and the “losers”—those not receiving such recognition or resources—will be in the new agenda is not yet decided, but certain parties hope that this time around NTDs will gain a special mention.”

 

Check out also the blog post on the ‘End the neglect’ website, focusing on the same article.

 

10. Health & Human Rights – Editorial: The post-2015 development agenda, human rights, evidence, and open-access publishing

Carmel Williams;

http://www.hhrjournal.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/13/2013/12/Editorial-The-post-2015-development-agenda-human-rights-evidence-and-open-access-publishing-.pdf

In the current planning phase for the post-2015 development agenda, there is guarded optimism that human rights will occupy a more central role than they did in the MDGs. The UNDP facilitated global consultations in 2012 to shape the post-2015 development agenda. 19 UN Task Team “thematic think pieces” resulted, most of which specifically refer to the importance of integrating human rights into development goals. The UNDP acknowledged an emerging global endorsement of human rights-based approaches to development, based on the principles of participation, accountability, non-discrimination, empowerment and the rule of law, and that it must be the core of the post-2015 agenda.

11. End the neglect – Global Health: The Elephant in the G20′s Living Room

Amber Cashwell; http://endtheneglect.org/2013/12/global-health-the-elephant-in-the-g20s-living-room/

As the world gears up for the next G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia, the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases is focusing on the Summit’s agenda in a push to get global health included as a key policy issue. To do this, the network submitted a concept note to the C20, which outlines why global health matters to the G20.  (The C20 is the Australian Civil Society Steering Committee, which will ensure that community-level views help shape the G20’s discussions and outcomes.)

12. Lancet – Health technology assessment in universal health coverage

Kalipso Chalkidou et al;

http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(13)62559-3/fulltext

In August, 2013, an international workshop convened in Bellagio by NICE International, and supported by the Rockefeller Foundation and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), concluded that health technology assessment (HTA) is a critical component of evidence-based policy decision making. There was

unanimity that HTA should always be part of the priority setting process, and is an essential foundation to secure UHC through the efficient and equitable allocation of

health care and other resources.”   Given the growing global momentum for UHC

there is a need to address a number of key public policy issues if HTA is to be meaningfully integrated into UHC. The authors give some suggestions.

Infectious Disease

 

13. Plos (Policy Forum) – Financing Essential HIV Services: A New Economic Agenda

Anna Vassall et al.;

http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1001567

Anna Vassall and colleagues discuss the need for and challenges facing innovative and sustainable financing of the HIV response.

14. Lancet (World Report) – Global Fund pledges fall short of expectations

Ann Danaiya Usher;

http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(13)62661-6/fulltext

Donors restored their confidence in the Global Fund this month with substantial funding promises, but economic woes prevent some from increasing their contributions. Ann Danaiya Usher reports.

15. Global Fund – Global Fund Sees End to Paternalism

http://www.theglobalfund.org/en/mediacenter/newsreleases/2013-12-11_Global_Fund_Sees_End_to_Paternalism/

This news article on the GF website reports on Mark Dybul’s speech at the closing plenary of the Icasa conference in Cape Town. Instead of paternalism, it’s time for a ‘real partnership’.

 

16. Aidspan – Human rights, women and children and sexual minorities dominate discussion at African AIDS meeting

Karanja Kinyanjui

http://www.aidspan.org/gfo_article/human-rights-women-and-children-and-sexual-minorities-dominate-discussion-african-aids-m

Short article with the key messages at the ICASA conference in Cape Town.

 

Meanwhile, Uganda is taking the moral crusade against sexuality even further, with the passing of a controversial anti-pornography bill by MPs, which will ban women from wearing miniskirts. What will be next? Ban Barbie?

17. Speaking of Medicine – Is the Global Fund Heading Backwards on Access to Medicines?

Suerie Moon;

http://blogs.plos.org/speakingofmedicine/2013/12/01/is-the-global-fund-heading-backwards-on-access-to-medicines/

In a blog post from earlier this month, Suerie Moon from the Harvard School of Public Health warns against falling back on stale solutions (like tiered pricing) for ensuring access to essential medicines.  “… this year, Board discussions at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria have set off alarm bells about a potential retreat from the time-tested pro-generic policies that enabled such progress. At issue is a proposed “blue-ribbon Task Force” on tiered-pricing of medicines for middle-income countries (MICs), spearheaded by the Global Fund together with the GAVI Alliance, UNDP, UNICEF, UNITAID, and the World Bank.

 

18. UNAIDS – UNAIDS and the hotel InterContinental Genève launch a new campaign to ensure all children are born HIV-free

http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/presscentre/pressreleaseandstatementarchive/2013/december/20131216prwherehistoryismade/

Hear hear, some fancy hotel in Geneva will work together with UNAIDS in a new campaign to ensure all children are born HIV-free. A public-private partnership, that goes without saying. It must be almost Christmas.

 

19. Global Fund – Ecobank and the Global Fund Launch Partnership

 

http://www.theglobalfund.org/en/mediacenter/newsreleases/2013-12-19_Ecobank_and_the_Global_Fund_Launch_Partnership/

And even the financial sector is coming on board. Yesterday, “Ecobank and the Global Fund announced a partnership that includes innovative financing, advocacy and cash contributions worth a total of US$3 million over the next three years. Ecobank and the Ecobank Foundation will partner with the Global Fund in innovative regional and country specific financing programs that will aim to strengthen the financial management capabilities of grant recipients. Ecobank is a leading pan-African financial institution that operates in 35 countries in Africa and embraces a mission of contributing to the economic and financial development of Africa.”

 

20. CGD (Report) – Clear Direction for a New Decade: Priorities for PEPFAR and the Next US Global AIDS Coordinator

Amanda Glassman & Jenny Ottenhoff;

http://international.cgdev.org/publication/clear-direction-new-decade-priorities-pepfar-and-next-us-global-aids-coordinator

PEPFAR is at a critical turning point in its decade-long existence. The next US Global AIDS Coordinator is uniquely positioned to set the course for the program’s future. … Former US Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby and his team helped establish the ambitious goal of an “AIDS-free generation” and spurred the creation of a better evidence base to guide PEPFAR’s programmatic decisions. The program has also benefited from a number of recent high-level external reviews conducted by the US Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), all of which lay out detailed priority areas for improvement in the program. The challenge for the next US Global AIDS Coordinator will be to prioritize and implement the recommendations that have emerged from these analyses and reviews, building on new and existing science to make the most progress possible toward an AIDS-Free Generation.”

In other PEPFAR related news, A Lancet Global Health article (by Kavanagh et al) focuses on PEPFAR’s (problematic) transparency record.

 

21. JIAS Supplement – Global action to reduce HIV stigma and discrimination

JIAS supplement;

The new Journal of the International AIDS Society supplement, ‘Global Action to Reduce HIV Stigma and Discrimination,’ examines HIV stigma in a variety of contexts and settings, and explores its impact on the global HIV response.

 

22. Reuters – Analysis: Fight for cheap drugs shifts from AIDS to new hepatitis pills

Reuters article; A new battle is looming over access to antiviral medicines in developing countries — this time for treating hepatitis C [HCV] — more than a decade after a global showdown over the price of AIDS drugs in Africa.

23. Lancet Infectious Disease (Editorial) – A wake-up call for polio eradication

Lancet infectious diseases editorial;  This editorial discusses the polio outbreak in Syria: “The outbreak in Syria could have major health consequences for other countries, and the government there must assist in providing health care workers and aid organizations with access to at-risk populations, … But the outbreak also serves as a reminder that high vaccination coverage is essential in countries where the disease is not currently circulating.” “… Although it seems like a major setback to eradication efforts, the polio outbreak in Syria might be used as an opportunity to reinvigorate eradication campaigns in Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, and surrounding countries by reminding local political, religious, and community leaders that the persistence of poliovirus transmission there has global repercussions.”

 

NCDs

 

24. NEJM – Chronic Infectious Disease and the Future of Health Care Delivery

Paul Farmer;

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa1310472?query=featured_home

« Understanding how and why care delivery does or does not happen and how to improve it may now represent medicine’s most important task”, argues Paul Farmer. “Work with local, national, and international partners to develop health systems able to respond to both acute and chronic disease shows that we can, with adequate resources, improve care delivery, sharply reducing morbidity and mortality. I believe that the lessons from 25 years of responding to the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and other chronic infections have implications for the chronic afflictions now recognized as leading causes of premature death and disability in places rich and poor. »

 

25. CGD – Dealing with Big Tobacco Bullies

Amanda Glassman & Bill Savedoff;  http://international.cgdev.org/blog/dealing-big-tobacco-bullies

Big Tobacco companies use international trade and investment agreements to undermine anti-tobacco policies in LMICs. CGD fellows Glassman & Savedoff argue a way forward, by involving the World Bank and similar agencies (like USAID) & banks. “Agencies like the World Bank could use their money, technical assistance and policy dialogue to support cost-effective and inexpensive tobacco control measures.”  ” …What we really need is for the World Bank, the IMF, the regional development banks and others to provide big visible support for developing countries to implement their anti-tobacco policies”.

 

26. CGD – Dealing with Big Tobacco Bullies Part 2: The Trade and Investment Angle

Kimberley Ann Elliott;

http://www.cgdev.org/blog/dealing-big-tobacco-bullies-part-2-trade-and-investment-angle

In a second CGD blog post on dealing with Big Tobacco Bullies, K A Elliott argues  the rules in trade and investment agreements need to be changed. Unlike what we heard at this week’s IAPH conference in Antwerp (on TTIP for example), she thinks the EU is actually not doing too bad compared with others. But even if true, content wise, the lack of transparency of most of the negotiations on deals like these remains a disgrace for the so called Free World, whether it’s the US or the EU. So the process needs to be improved, at the very least, so that we can properly assess the content, and don’t need to draw upon “leaks”.

 

Meanwhile, our mainstream newspaper in Belgium chose to focus on the (apparently, severely ‘harmed’) ‘right to free movement’, yesterday, when Ngos and trade unions were blocking the streets in Brussels to protest austerity in Europe and the secretive negotiations around TTIP.

27. Lancet – The cancer wars

http://www.thelancet.com/series/the-cancer-wars

You probably are aware of the Hunger Games, but this world also faces the Cancer Wars. “Some 40 years ago a metaphor was posed that cancer was such an insidious adversary that a declaration of war on the disease was justified. Despite extraordinary progress in our understanding of disease pathogenesis, in most cases and for most forms of cancer this war has not been won. The Cancer Wars, a three-part clinical Series, suggests that now is the time to rethink the strategy for this metaphor of fighting a war on cancer. The three papers discuss prevention, global surveillance, and offer a refined metaphor of a multidimensional cancer battlespace.”

 

28. Lancet (Editorial) – Conquering cancer

http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(13)62680-X/fulltext

This editorial gives the backdrop of the Lancet series on cancer. “Four decades after the war on cancer was declared, the strategic rethink called for in The Lancet Series is justified. This reassessment should happen along all battle lines—prevention, therapeutic approaches, and cancer inequalities—if the trends seen in, and predicted by, GLOBOCAN 2012  (Globocan is the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s online database)  are to be altered.”

 

29. Lancet (Comment) – Acute renal failure: an unacceptable death sentence globally

Giuseppe Remuzzi & Richard Horton;

http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(13)62193-5/fulltext

Remuzzi & Horton discuss the importance of acute renal failure as a global health issue, and the dire situation in LICs in particular.

 

30. Plos (Perspective) – Improving Treatment of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: The Role of Non-specialist Care Providers

M Bello-Mojeed et al.; http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1001573  In a systematic review in Plos Medicine, Brian Reichow and colleagues assess the evidence that non-specialist care providers in community settings can provide effective interventions for children and adolescents with intellectual disabilities or lower-functioning autism spectrum disorders. In this linked Perspective, Mashudat Bello-Mojeed and Muideen O. Bakare discuss the unmet challenges in care of children with autism spectrum disorders in LMICs.

31. Translational global health – Five Reasons Why ‘Food’ Is A Massive Global Health Issue

Alessandro Demaio; http://blogs.plos.org/globalhealth/2013/12/food_is_global_health/ Alessandro Demaio examines the links between food and global health and provides five reasons why food is, and must be, a global health issue.

 

Health Policy & Financing

 

32. WHO – Background documents for the 134th Executive Board meeting (Jan 2014)

http://apps.who.int/gb/e/e_eb134.html

You find all the background documents for the upcoming EB meeting in January here.

 

33. Humanosphere – Biotech and academic leader selected as new CEO for Gates Foundation

Tom Paulson;

http://www.humanosphere.org/2013/12/biotech-and-academic-leader-selected-as-new-ceo-for-gates-foundation/

The Gates foundation has a new CEO,  Susan Desmond-Hellman. Read all about her in this article.

 

34. Lancet – Offline: Offline: Aung San Suu Kyi goes to Doha

Richard Horton;

http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(13)62662-8/fulltext

Horton comes back on the 1st WISH (World Innovation Summit for Health) conference in Doha, and Aung San Suu Kyi’s prominent role there. Horton was obviously blown away: “The goal for our societies should not be the abstract notion of innovation. It should be a kind of serenity, where “spiritual health is as important as physical and mental health”. The task of innovation is to serve that human objective.” We actually agree.

 

35. WHO – Identification of Health R&D Demonstration Projects

http://www.who.int/phi/implementation/phi_cewg_meeting/en/

A Global Technical Consultative Meeting on Identification of Health R&D Demonstration Projects  took place 3-5 December 2013. Experts from all six WHO regions evaluated 22 shortlisted proposals received from the six regional offices after due regional consultative processes. Finally, 7 plus 1 projects were identified as demonstration projects to be submitted to the Executive Board for consideration.

 

Many WHO & global health R&D watchers were disappointed about the selected projects and especially their perceived lack of innovation, see for example MSF (here), Health Action International  (see here), and a Scidev.net article. No doubt, Aung San Suu Kyi would be disappointed too.

 

36. Lancet – A look back at 2013

Tim Dehnel ;

https://sslvpn.itg.be/S0140673613626835/,DanaInfo=ac.els-cdn.com+1-s2.0-S0140673613626835-main.pdf?_tid=487e0f88-693a-11e3-84b6-00000aacb35d&acdnat=1387518659_27b9949a5316db2cd6240c2ddc0b3e5d

Tim Dehnel reviews the year in which several viruses, old and new, hit the headlines, the USA backed brain research in a big way, and a Super Typhoon wreaked havoc in the Philippines.

 

37. ECEuropa.eu – Global health security initiative: Ministerial meeting in Rome

http://ec.europa.eu/health/preparedness_response/docs/ghsi_communique_2013_en.pdf

On December 13, the Global Health Security Initiative (GHSI) held its Ministerial Meeting in Rome to reflect on emerging health security events of the last year and to explore collaborative actions to protect the health and safety of populations, and to strengthen health security globally. The full conclusions of the meeting can be accessed here.  The GHSI is an informal, international partnership among countries to strengthen health preparedness and response globally to threats of biological, chemical, radio-nuclear terrorism (CBRN) and pandemic influenza.

 

38. Scidev.net – Funding for drug development partnerships nose dives

http://www.scidev.net/global/medicine/scidev-net-at-large/funding-for-drug-development-partnerships-nose-dives.html

This year’s G-Finder  report shows that funding for product development partnerships (PDPs) nose-dived by 20 per cent — or US$87.4 million — between 2011 and 2012.

39. Lancet Global Health – An exceptional year

Zoë Mullan;

http://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X(13)70181-5/fulltext

Zoë Mullan comes back on Mandela’s life and importance for the fight against HIV and introduces the new January issue of the Lancet Global Health. 2013 will be remembered as an exceptional year in shaping our strategy to control HIV/AIDS, is one of the key messages of this editorial. Most of the articles already appeared early online.

 

40. Lancet (Editorial) – Birth registration: vital statistics

http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(13)62682-3/fulltext

The Dec 11 release of the UNICEF report, Every Child’s Birth Right: Inequities and Trends in Birth Registration, provides a timely update—and paints a largely depressing picture—of birth registration rates, especially in countries most affected by weak health systems and conflict. The report estimates that in 2012, around 230 million children younger than 5 years—around one in three—did not have their births registered.”

 

Nevertheless, not everything is gloomy.  “The Lancet is planning to publish a new ‘Who Counts?’ Series next year, which will include an assessment of progress made since 2007.”  Who Counts? (a Lancet series from 6 years ago) called for a rigorous international effort at global and country level to make birth and death registration an urgent priority for human development.   “It is timely that WHO has just convened a multi-agency meeting (Dec 17—18) to highlight how health sector innovations can promote a better system for civil registration and vital statistics systems at country levels.”

 

Check out also a new Lancet Global Health article (by Claudia Cappa et al.) on the same issue.

 

41. BMJ (news) – Uruguay legalises sale and production of marijuana

Sophie Arie;

http://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f7499

News from last week: Uruguay has become the first country to legalise growing, selling, and smoking marijuana, in the face of criticism by the United Nations drugs body, which said that the move was irresponsible and contradicted international drug treaties.  (time for a PPP with the Clinton foundation)

 

42. Science Speaks blog – International AIDS Society to India: Return of anti-gay law a “major setback” to country’s HIV response

Antigone Barton;

http://sciencespeaksblog.org/2013/12/18/international-aids-society-to-india-return-of-anti-gay-law-a-major-setback-to-countrys-hiv-response/

Barton comes back on the (disturbing) news coming from India last week, which seems to fit in a global trend, i.e. an increasing backlash against gays.

 

43. AFGH (report) – Who pays for health? Trends in ODA for health

http://www.actionforglobalhealth.eu/fileadmin/AfGH_Intranet/AFGH/Publications/AfGH-ODA-Report-December-2013_200dpi.pdf

An AFGH report from a few weeks ago. The report “reveals that European donor countries are continuing to evade aid commitments by failing to pay billions of Euros that should have been allocated to global health. The report finds that the wealthiest nations are still giving proportionally less health ODA than poorer EU countries and the increasing use of loans as “ODA” could result in developing nations plunging further into debt.”  Especially Germany is a bit of a disappointment, I’d say.

 

44. Guardian – Toxic ‘e-waste’ dumped in poor nations, says United Nations

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/dec/14/toxic-ewaste-illegal-dumping-developing-countries The UN’s Step initiative, which was set up to tackle the world’s growing e-waste crisis, published a new report. The situation is bad, and getting worse. (we suggest a boycott of all tablets, smartphones and laptops at the next Global Symposium)

45. Lancet – Global Health Service Partnership: building health professional leadership

Vanessa Kerry et al.;

http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(13)61683-9/fulltext

John Kerry’s daughter discusses the Global Health Service Partnership. “The programme, called the Global Health Service Partnership, placed 31 American clinical faculty—dedicated educators—in medical and nursing schools in Tanzania, Uganda, and Malawi in July, 2013. In collaboration with the schools, the partnership hopes to help to train new health professionals and to retain those already working.”

46. Guttmacher (Analysis) – A Common Cause: Faith-Based Organizations and Promoting Access to Family Planning in the Developing World

Sneha Barot;

http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/gpr/16/4/gpr160418.html?utm_campaign=KFF%253A%2520Global%2520Health%2520Report&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=11452092&_hsenc=p2ANqtz–ybq3xs36Ys-eu7rQSrHkxajvv4udUR_LmqHs_POaaNCiHAKspcGHX7dDwMYbjXHy6RLU75zSuerpXQeJWsCcmxVbhsw&_hsmi=11452092

Contrary to public perception, faith-based organizations from diverse religious backgrounds are key players in the provision of family planning services around the world, and those based in the United States advocate for increased U.S. assistance in this area to boost global health, according to a new Guttmacher Institute analysis,” a Guttmacher press release states.  Sneha Barot provides examples of different USAID-supported faith-based initiatives or organizations and their value in promoting family planning in Liberia, Afghanistan, Nepal and Rwanda.

 

47. Health Research Policy & Systems – Organising health research systems as a key to improving health: the World Health Report 2013 and how to make further progress

47.

Stephen R. Hanney et al.; http://www.health-policy-systems.com/content/pdf/1478-4505-11-47.pdf

In this editorial, the authors outline the key messages from the World Health Report 2013 and highlight the contributions made by papers from the journal Health Research Policy and Systems. They also explore how to make further progress.

 

 

Emerging  Voices

 

48. Presentations EVs at ICASA in Cape Town

http://www.ev4gh.net/2013/12/ev-2013-venture-coming-to-an-end/

You find some of the EV 2013 presentations at the ICASA meeting (recorded with Camtasia software) here. Stay tuned for more Youtube videos of them in the coming weeks!

49. Book:  Innovations in Maternal Health – Case Studies from India

Jay Satia, Radhika Arora et al.;

http://www.uk.sagepub.com/books/Book241971#tabview=toc

EV 2012 Radhika Arora was one of the editors of this new book on innovations in maternal health in India. “Innovations in Maternal Health presents a compilation of twenty-three innovations from the area of Maternal and Newborn Health. These innovations have been written in the case-study style for teaching, which will be beneficial for capacity building initiatives for health-care professionals. These descriptive cases cover innovative programmes, initiatives and technologies implemented in India. Each case is complemented by a documentary film provided in the accompanying DVD.  The book takes us on a boat ride through the rarely travelled riverine areas of the Majuli Islands of Assam and the Sunderbans in West Bengal to the state of Tamil Nadu, which is known for its constant endeavours to improve its health-care system, considered one of the best in the country. Technological innovations to address hypothermia in newborns and buy time in cases of postpartum haemorrhage in low-resource settings have been documented in detail.”

 

Global Health bits & pieces

 

  • PSI and UNFPA teamed up over the past year to study and report on the state of male condom use in six African countries (read PSI’s “Impact” blog post on the findings).

Research

 

50. BMC Health Services Research – Achieving universal health coverage through voluntary insurance: what can we learn from the experience of Lao PDR?

Sarah Alkenbrack, Bart Jacobs and Magnus Lindelow;

http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6963/13/521/abstract

Lao PDR’s government has embarked on a path to achieve UHC through implementation of four risk-protection schemes. One of these schemes is community-based health insurance (CBHI) – a voluntary scheme that targets roughly half the population. However, after 12 years of implementation, coverage through CBHI remains very low. Increasing coverage of the scheme would require expansion to households in both villages where CBHI is currently operating, and new geographic areas. In this study the authors explore the prospects of both types of expansion by examining household and district level data. The household-level findings indicate that the scheme suffers from poor risk-pooling, which threatens financial sustainability. The district-level findings call into question whether or not the Government of Laos can successfully expand to more remote, less affluent districts, with lower population density. The authors then discuss the policy implications of the findings and specifically address whether CBHI can serve as a foundation for a national scheme, while exploring alternative approaches to reaching the informal sector in Laos and other countries attempting to achieve UHC.

 

Miscellaneous

  • Dani Rodrik wrote a viewpoint on the fact that SSA’s impressive economic performance is perhaps not sustainable (see Project Syndicate ).
  • The WB organizes a fiscal transparency drive ( see  here ).
  • In other WB related news, rich and emerging-market nations agreed to commit a record $52 billion over three years to the World Bank IDA fund (see  Reuters/Huffington Post ).

 

  • Scidev.net  reported that science is now more influential within USAID than in the last decades.

 

  • Finally, this blog post on development financing post-2015 is a must-read (by Annalize Prizzon, on Development Progress).

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