Dear Colleagues,

This is an important week for global health, with the annual letter of the Gates couple (an Emerging Voice was wondering why the global health & development community seems so thrilled with the words of Bill, as if he’s writing the new Bible, Quran, Analects, … or, if you want, his own version of the Little Red Book). But let’s not go into this debate, it requires a column in itself. Even if it’s tricky these days to see historical analogies (they can cause a self-fulfilling prophecy, some argue), I see at least one resemblance with the great Helmsman. In China they tend to say “Mao was 70 % right and 30 % wrong”, maybe one day we’ll say the same about Bill Gates.  Anyway, Gates’ letter was aimed at people in developed countries, and he debunked three, in his opinion fairly common,  myths which block progress for the poor. As for the new hero of the left, the pope, he blessed breastfeeding recently. However, the key debate  now is inequality, and the pope gets that right, unlike Gates.  

Far more important than Gates’ letter or the pope’s words are the 134th Executive Board meeting of the WHO in Geneva (with a rather overloaded agenda this year, probably not for the first time), or the World Economic Forum in Davos (the place to be when it comes to schmoozing (aka “networking”) and influencing the commercial, political & social determinants of health, for better or for worse). In my view, we can’t afford not to pay attention to what happens and is said in the Swiss winter resort, but global health bigwigs should either refuse showing up (Exit), or argue for a more representative forum (Voice). Unfortunately, the few global health people invited there seem mainly “Loyal” to globalization as we know it. I’m afraid the Lancet Commission on Investing in health, with its Grand Convergence aim,  which lays out its case in Davos as we write this, isn’t going to change that. Read the terrific IDS paper ‘Reimagining Development 3.0 for a Changing Planet’ (by Jon Moris) and you’ll know what I mean. After going through that wonderful paper, you’ll wonder with me why everybody now seems to be so fond of the year 2035, Bill Gates most of all. I’m all for a Grand Convergence, but make no mistake, it will be incredibly tough to get there, for a number of reasons. Just read this dire WB report for example from last year. So yes, we can, but given the way human beings are, we might very well not. If we want to have a chance, though, we will need the sophisticated mindset fit for a “World 3.0”, a global system characterized by high turbulence and new threats,  that Moris describes. To be honest, I’m afraid none of us has this kind of mindset (yet). Not even the brilliant Larry Summers. Maybe Big Data & artificial intelligence will give us a hand, but they open a box of Pandora as well.

If you enjoy governance issues, you might want to read this erudite view on the limits of the invitation-only ‘stakeholder’ governance model, as epitomized by the WEF in Davos, see David Sogge on Open Democracy.

This week, the Lancet also published a series on health & the Arab World, the Lancet Global Health published its February issue, and there was a lot more other noteworthy global health news from around the world. Patents are again in the line of fire, as well as pharmaceutical companies.

In this week’s guest editorial, Xiaoyun Liu from Peking University reports on a recent HP&P paper he co-authored on the need for coherence between health policy & human resource strategies, and the repercussions for the ongoing Chinese health reform. 


Enjoy your reading.

Kristof Decoster, Werner Soors, Peter Vermeiren, Basile Keugoung & Wim Van Damme




Coherence between health policy and human resource strategy: Implications for China’s Health System Reform


By Xiaoyun Liu

China Center For Health Development Studies, Peking University


The lack of coherence between the health policies and human resource (HR) strategy is one of the major causes for the failure to meet health goals such as the MDGs. A recently published article in Health Policy and Planning, co-authored by myself, explores the relationship and the degree of coherence between health policy—in this case maternal health policy — processes and HR strategy in Vietnam, China and India. In this guest editorial, I will focus on China.

The study identified mixed levels of coherence between the development of maternal health policy and HR strategies. In the study, we distinguished three models. A ‘Separation’ model means there is no relationship at all between the health policy and HR strategy. In a ‘Fit’ model, HR strategies are developed or adjusted to respond to the requirements of a health policy. Finally, a ‘Dialogue’ model takes this relationship one step further. It recognizes the need for two-way communication and some debate. Alternative policy options may be considered when the HR capacity does not meet the requirements of a certain health policy.

An example of ‘separation’ was found in China’s policy regarding domestic violence against women. In spite of a legal instrument laying out the policy, there was hardly any planning of HR resources for implementation.

In another policy on skilled birth attendance in China, in order for traditional birth attendants (TBA) to cease delivering babies and encourage pregnant women to have institutionally based birth deliveries, this policy introduced both rewards and sanctions to deter TBAs from continuing to do the deliveries themselves, which shows a ‘fit’ model.

Examples of ‘Dialogue ’ were not found in China, but ‘ethnic midwives’ in Vietnam and Female Health Workers (FHW) in India were trained and employed to provide birth delivery service in the remote regions of the two countries. Neither of these are considered skilled birth attendants (SBA) due to basic and limited training on midwifery skills.

The ‘Fit’ model was also found in the policy implementation stage in China. When access to health facilities was found to be a major constraint for pregnant women living in remote areas in China, a stretcher service was introduced for institutional delivery. Volunteers from the remote communities were mobilized as stretcher bearers when needed, which proved to be a successful innovation for supporting the institutional delivery policy. In the adolescent reproductive health policy, the evaluations of each programme produced wide-ranging recommendations including those related to HR for the next programme.

These findings have significant implications for China’s ongoing health system reform which started in 2009.

First, appropriate actors such as the HR departments and/or ‘HR champions’ who are supportive of the policy should be involved to ensure that HR strategy is considered. In the overall design of the health system reform, HR were not among the components of the (five pillar) reform. Lack of HR expertise involvement in the policy process may have contributed to this lack of ‘Fit’ and ‘Dialogue’.

Second, HR strategy should be considered at the policy development stage or even before, at the agenda-setting stage. If one takes the essential public health service package as an example, to implement such an ambitious health service package, serious consideration should be paid to the numbers, capacities, and incentives of public health workers at grassroots level primary health care (PHC) facilities. More meaningful ‘Dialogues’ should be conducted between the health policy and HR strategies.

Third, HR strategies should be monitored (including checking coherence with the health policy) at the implementation stage and adjustments made where necessary, especially as HR requirements for successful implementation of the policy may change over time. Public hospital reforms in China result in considerable expansion of secondary and tertiary public hospitals. This will inevitably draw health professionals from lower level health facilities, especially PHC facilities, to those larger hospitals. Without keeping a close eye on the health labor market dynamics and monitoring the distribution and flow of health professionals between PHC and hospitals, the considerable efforts to strengthen PHC in the reform may be in vain due to the potential loss of health professionals.



Lancet series on the Arab world & health

In the past few decades, the Arab region as a whole has made significant strides forward in health development and in improving the overall health and life expectancy of populations. However, the region also faces tremendous health challenges. This new Lancet Series focuses on priority health issues in the Arab world, based on evidence interpreted mainly by scholars from the region, and adopts a multidisciplinary approach that includes medical, public health, social, and political perspectives.

In the series, emphasis lies on the political determinants of health. That is probably the right choice, in the current circumstances.

Check out the Comments & Series articles on governance & health in the Arab world, NCDs, the path towards UHC in the Arab uprising countries, health & ecological sustainability, …


WHO Executive Board in Geneva


1.    Public Health (special issue on WHO)

We already referred to this supplement on the WHO’s past, present and future in last week’s issue, but the supplement in Public Health is now open access. So you can read all articles!! And you probably should as they’re really insightful (and make up for the relative in-transparency of the Board itself, if you are not there).


2.    Executive Board meeting




  • For an update of what’s going on in Geneva, we suggest you follow “WHO Watch“, who analyze the key issues at the Board meeting. You also find the statements there delivered by the People’s Health Movement & MMI.


For the PHM’s open (and very detailed) letter to the Board, addressing all agenda points in Geneva, published at the start of the meeting, see here.


  • A second good option to keep abreast of what’s going on in Geneva is  IP Watch, with a mix of open and ‘subscriber only’ articles on the site. Read for example this article on Chan’s opening address (see here), and another overview article, ahead of the EB, with some agenda points (see  here). For a subscriber only article on NCDs & vaccines in MICs, see here.


  • Twitter – hashtag #EB134 is of course another option for the latest updates.



A few of the ‘highlights’ so far:


  • Chan’s opening address in which she called for more focus. (see  here). “WHO must be strategic and highly selective in responding to these and many other challenges.”
  • The overloaded agenda made some people wonder “whether it’s not to time to speed up with the WHO (esp. governance) reform”.
  • WHO appointed two regional directors.
  • Lots of Member States supported the inclusion of UHC in the Post2015 agenda at the Board Meeting but also called for continued focus (and acceleration of the response) to deal with the MDGs.
  • Responding to some criticism in a recent Lancet Letter, WHO may soon start streaming its annual World Health Assembly meeting (see the New York Times on this).
  • Other focal areas so far were NCDs, palliative care, etc.


3.    PHM – During the 134th WHO’s EB session, Civil Society calls upon Member States to foil Conspiracy by Big Pharma to Undermine South African Patent Reforms

The last highlight in Geneva deserves more than a bullet point. “During the debate on ‘Access to Essential Medicines’ at the 134th WHO Executive Board meeting (on Thursday), the South African delegate made an intervention regarding the campaign plans of global pharmaceutical companies to undermine the proposed revision of South African patent laws. Other delegates also deplored what has been described by the South African Health Minister as a plot to commit ‘genocide’. The WHO Director-General spoke of her determination not to allow pharmaceutical profits to take priority over access to health care. Following the debate a group of civil society networks (…) issued a formal call for delegates to adopt a resolution expressing solidarity with South Africa. The Call includes background and proposed draft resolution.”


You find the call here.


On the same topic (campaign by pharmaceutical industry vs SA IP policy), see also this Science Speaks article, and this very informative IP Watch article.





You ‘ve got to admit it – the “invitation-only multi-stakeholder meeting” in Davos is not exactly more inclusive than the WHO’s Executive Board meeting, but it’s definitely more transparent. Nevertheless, I’ll start this section with a short blog post explaining why it’s a very problematic meeting, from a governance & symbolic point of view. For a similar view, see also David Sogge (on Open Democracy).


4.    IHP – How to deal with Davos, that’s increasingly the question

Kristof Decoster;

I didn’t really use the Hirschman framework (Exit, Voice) in this short blog post but in essence I think the global health community has two ways to deal with the Davos annual meeting, in an era of rising rage on inequality: stay away or voice our concern about the very biased set of people you tend to find there. Unfortunately, for the moment, the (few) ones invited remain largely “loyal” to this annual party of ‘winners of globalization’. Even if this seems the strategic thing to do in the short term, I wonder what the poor and needy in the world would think about “global health” bigwigs schmoozing with CEOs of multinationals, JP Morgan top dogs (even if they do so, presumably, for a good cause, like the Global Health Investment Fund) or Bank of America representatives (for the latest partnership between Bono’s organization & Bank of America, see the GF press release – a stunning amount of money is involved J). Based on these last two examples, I wonder whether Big Finance is not increasingly using global health as a kind of smokescreen for diverting attention from the fair tax debate, now that the pressure is mounting on them. But let’s hope it’s just about making profit, while trying to make a good cause happen. If you want to know more about my position, you’ll have to read my blog post.


5.    Some of the (more general) debates in Davos


  • For some overall coverage, see the Guardian  or the website of Davos. The ‘prevailing sentiment’ on the state of the global economy was pretty good, until news about the Argentinian peso spread.


  • 5 key datasets to help understand some of the key issues (see the Guardian) – like unemployment, inequality, unsustainable government debt, CO2 emissions, …


  • You might want to read this report on the ‘circular economy’ – I certainly plan to do so.


  • In the run-up to Davos, Oxfam published a report on inequality, ‘Working for the few’, which went viral almost as soon as it was published.


  • Lord Stern now says he underestimated the threat of climate change and wants it to be a priority for finance ministers, rather than just environment ministers. (see the Guardian).


  • The so called “B team” (with people like Richard Branson & Unilever CEO  Paul Polman) emphasizes business must engage with the post-2015 development agenda to ensure the new SDGs are concrete. As for what I consider “the A-team”, mainly coming from Latin America for the time being, read what one of them has to say in this Guardian viewpoint.


6.    Davos & tax avoidance

In spite of the focus on inequality, Davos men & women don’t pay much attention to the tax dodging issue. But the pressure on them is mounting.


Read for example this viewpoint in the Guardian (Larry Elliot says tax avoiders are still welcome in Davos), or a very insightful blog post by Alex Cobham (from CGD) & accompanying report on illicit capital flows from developing countries, and the Swiss role in this).  Or this viewpoint in the Guardian from the president of Guinea.


7.    Project Syndicate – Rethinking Pharmaceutical Business Models

Joseph Jimenez;

Let’s go to the more traditional ‘health’ issues then in Davos. Read what the Novartis CEO has to say about the need to rethink pharmaceutical business models. Jimenez is in Davos, obviously.


8.    Gates & Summers in Davos on ‘Grand Convergence’


Larry Summers & Bill Gates and some other people advocate the “Grand Convergence” aim in Davos. Gates said earlier this week that by 2035 there will be almost no poor countries left in world, so convergence is very well feasible. (for more on Gates’ annual letter, see below). Given the audience, it’s obvious both Summers & Gates will make the case for the strong economic rationale behind investing in health. ( see #GH2035 for some live tweeting from their session, moderated by Jim Kim).


  • As for the “trending topics” on Twitter till yesterday, health was nowhere to be seen – but still, if you want an overview of health related tweets from Davos, see here.


9.    WEF report – Collaborating for healthy living: from bottlenecks to solutions: An Insights Brief from the World Economic Forum Healthy Living Initiative Prepared in collaboration with Bain & Company

Yes, ‘Bain & company’ might ring a bell if you followed the last US presidential elections. From the Executive Summary: “Addressing the rising prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and their risk factors challenges traditional

models of work for public, private and civil society stakeholders and puts more pressure on them all to work collaboratively. However, such collaborations are not without challenges. Under the umbrella of the Healthy Living Initiative, the

World Economic Forum has conducted an exercise to map the most common bottlenecks for multistakeholder collaborations.” The most frequently mentioned bottlenecks included: mistrust, fear of conflict of interest, lack of transparency, lack of leadership and fundamental organizational differences. The objective of this brief is not to simply highlight these key bottlenecks, but to provide workable solutions for

overcoming them.” 

10. Guardian – Davos 2014: Be aware – a healthy economy puts high value on wellbeing

For the first time, delegates at the WEF will be asked to think of healthcare as an aid to global growth, Robert Greenhill, member of the managing board of the WEF argued.


Gates’ annual letter


11. Annual Letter  Gates

A shorter version of the letter, which debunked three myths which block progress for the poor (in Gates’ opinion), you can find in the Wall Street Journal (see here)


Humanosphere’s Tom Paulson wrote his own annual letter to Bill & Melinda Gates – very worth reading. He concluded: “Truth is, not everything out there is getting better and it’s a bit simplistic – if not dangerous – to promote that kind of a mindset. We are making progress on some fronts but many of these – like vaccine-preventable illnesses in kids – represent low-hanging fruit. We are entering a new era, in which the politically neutral targeted interventions aimed at problems with simple and clear solutions are receding thanks to our successes. Now comes the next phase, in which the international community must deal with more complex and highly political problems like wealth inequality, establishing public interest rules for mega-multinational corporations, the threat to the global commons presented by climate change and many other challenges that can make your head spin simply by trying to define the problem. By all means, let’s celebrate progress. But let’s not forget all those millions, if not billions, of people out there who don’t yet see cause to celebrate.”


ODI also published a reaction on the letter, with some of the myths its fellows see, (as well as many others, like Chris Blattman).


As for my opinion, I can live with a ‘division of labour’ – whereby Gates and his foundation do a lot of positive entrepreneurial and innovative things and make the world a better place in many respects. I don’t expect him to take on the political, commercial and other structural causes of the causes. That’s for other people to do. And what he does now, saying that by improving health, poverty can be addressed, is already a very important way of framing things (all credit to him for this).


But I think Gates (and also Summers etc) have trouble to understand the rage of many people around the world about the enormous inequality, as well as the powerlessness  many people feel, including in developed countries, in this era of rapid changes (the velocity of changes is stunning, and many, if not most of us have trouble to keep up). For an “impatient optimist”, that is just too hard to understand, I think…  


12. Humanosphere – Why 2035? The year Bill Gates predicted (almost) no more poor countries

Tom Paulson;

Paulson wonders why the year 2035 is suddenly so important – he thinks he knows the answer.


13. IPWatch – Global Health 2035 Report: Flawed Projections

Daniele Dionysio;

Daniele Dionisio writes: “Hopes that a comprehensive global health goal could be reached by 2035 are hardly credible with the load of unresolved issues still on the table.” His article turns the spotlight on much debated relevant questions that were left out or under-scrutinised in this recently published Lancet report.


Other Post-2015 & UHC news


14. The National Academies press – Workshop summary: Including health in global frameworks for development, wealth and climate change

Workshop summary=

‘Including Health in Global Frameworks for Development, Wealth, and Climate Change’ is the summary of a three-part public webinar convened by the Institute of Medicine Roundtable on Environmental Health Sciences, Research, and Medicine and its collaborative on Global Environmental Health and Sustainable Development. Presenters and participants discussed the role of health in measuring a country’s wealth (going beyond gross domestic product), health scenario communication, and international health goals and indicators. The workshop focused on fostering discussion across academic, government, business, and civil society sectors to make use of existing data and information that can be adapted to track progress of global sustainable development and human health. This report examines frameworks for global development goals and connections to health indicators, the role for health in the context of novel sustainable economic frameworks that go beyond gross domestic product, and scenarios to project climate change impacts.


15. Science Speaks – Jim Kim: AIDS response set path for universal health care

Science Speaks & Jim Kim speech;

The successes and lessons from the global AIDS movement, Jim Kim said at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event launching a report on global action toward UHC (from a few weeks ago), can be used to realize the ambition of affordable and equitable health care for the world’s poorest.


16. AFGH – Spanish conference on UHC: lead the concept where it has to be

Report on a one day seminar in November in Spain on UHC (with people like Jose Carvalho, Joe Kutzin, etc).

17. BMC Public Health – Holding a country countdown to 2015 conference on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – the Zambian experience

Victor M Mukonka et al.;

Initiatives such as the Country Countdown to 2015 Conference on MDGs have provided countries with high maternal and child deaths like Zambia a platform to assess progress, discuss challenges and share lessons learnt as a conduit for national commitment to reaching and attaining the MDGs four and five. This paper discusses and highlights the process of holding a successful country countdown conference and shares Zambia’s experience with other countries planning to organise country countdown to 2015 Conferences on MDGs.


18. BMC Public Health – Why the MDGs need good governance in pharmaceutical systems to promote global health

Jillian Clare Kohler et al.;

Challenges identified in pharmaceutical governance initiatives manifest in different forms depending on the nature and structure of the initiative, but their regular occurrence and impact on population-based health demonstrates growing importance of addressing pharmaceutical governance as a key component of the post-2015 MDGs. Specifically, these challenges need to be acknowledged and responded to with global cooperation and innovation to establish localized and evidence-based metrics for good governance to promote global pharmaceutical safety.

19. FT – Health in 2014: the trends – Health: much achieved but much work needed

Andrew Jack;

The FT health editor gives some global health trends for 2014.


20. Chatham House – Lessons and Challenges for Global Health in 2014

David L. Heymann & Osman Dar;

The authors asked three experts what they consider to be challenges & opportunities in the next 12 months (and beyond, obviously).

Infectious disease


21. GFO newsletter issue 235

Important GFO newsletter issue, with plenty of articles, among others one on the reaction of GF & UNAIDS to the Nigerian anti-gay law, a Commentary (by Kate McIntyre) on the good, bad & ugly in country ownership, an Analysis by David Garmaise that the GF has become more prescriptive in grant renewals, and news on a new Aidspan research paper on conflict of interest within Country Coordinating Mechanisms.


22. Reuters – U.N. to launch legal challenge against Malawi anti-gay laws

Reuters on legal challenge;

The United Nations’ AIDS taskforce and human rights groups will launch a court battle against Malawi’s laws criminalizing homosexuality, in a rare challenge to rising anti-gay legislation in Africa.


23. GF – (RED), U2 and Bank of America Partner to Fight AIDS

(RED), rock group U2 and Bank of America announced a partnership that will generate more than US$10 million to fight AIDS. (Hurray!   Obviously the Bank of America hopes this kind of partnership will make them ‘Invisible’ for fair tax advocates.)


24. World Bank – Empowering Women, Girls is Vital To Tackling AIDS, Poverty

Jeni Klugman & David Wilson;

At a high-level meeting earlier this month, UNAIDS and the World Bank Group jointly committed to address the interrelated challenges of AIDS, inequality, and extreme poverty. It’s clear that empowering women and girls will play an integral part.”

25. KFF – Gates Foundation, South African Groups Partner To Research HIV, TB, Malaria Treatments, Prevention

KFF news;

South African news outlets report on a new partnership between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and medical research institutions in the country.


26. WHO Bulletin (early online)  – The incremental cost of switching from Option B to Option B+ for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV

Lisa O’Brien et al.;

From a cost perspective, a policy switch from Option B to Option B+

is feasible in PMTCT programme settings where resources are currently being allocated to Option B, the authors of this paper argue.


27. AFP – Nigeria, Pakistan could delay polio-free goal: Gates

Agence France-Presse;

Gates warned on Tuesday that violence in Nigeria and Pakistan could set him back in his goal of eradicating polio by 2018.


28. Lancet Global Health – Persistence of poliomyelitis in Nigeria

Festus D. Adu et al.;

Article in the new (February) issue of the Lancet Global Health, commenting on a study in the Lancet Global Health by Tara Mangal and colleagues. What is the current picture in Nigeria?


29. New York Review of Books – Syria’s Polio Epidemic: The Suppressed Truth

Annie Sparrow;

Other horrifying news from Syria reached us this week (with evidence of industrial scale torture & killings), but this (extensive) article should also not stay under the radar, at least in the global health community.  Sparrow (Annie, not Jack) gives some of the latest info on the polio epidemic in Syria, and the political background. Sparrow also lays out what is needed for an effective response to polio in Syria and the broader region.

30. Lancet Global Health – Investment in malaria elimination: a leap of faith in need of direction

Yoel Lubell;

Lubell comments on a new study in The Lancet Global Health by Ubydul Haque and colleagues. They assessed the performance of the Bangladesh National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) in delivering malaria control activities in the country’s remaining endemic areas after 5 years of investment from the Global Fund.

31. Economist – A novel approach, using drugs instead of insecticides, may make it easier to eliminate malaria. But it is not without controversy

A novel approach, using drugs instead of insecticides, may make it easier to eliminate malaria. A Chinese scientist is trying it out on The Comoros islands. But it is not without controversy, for medical, geopolitical and business reasons.


32. Plos – Scale-up of Malaria Rapid Diagnostic Tests and Artemisinin-Based Combination Therapy: Challenges and Perspectives in Sub-Saharan Africa

Guido Bastiaens et al.;;jsessionid=8C71045EACCE60B638E4586379DE0CF6

Guido Bastiaens and colleagues describe barriers to achieving scale-up and appropriate use of rapid diagnostic tests and artemisinin-based combination therapy for malaria in sub-Saharan Africa.


33. Lancet Global Health – Rebalancing the global battle against tuberculosis

Mario Raviglione et al.;

The authors explain how the BRICS partnership could help contribute to achievement of ambitious global targets for tuberculosis control.


34. KFF – Major Drug Trial Fails To Control TB In South African Gold Mines

KFF news;

News sources report on the results of a study conducted by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine evaluating tuberculosis (TB) control in South African gold mines. The results are disappointing.


35. Lancet (Editorial) – Only just the beginning of the end of hepatitis C

2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the identification of the hepatitis C virus (HCV). HCV infection continues to be a major global health problem. Recently, new medicines have been developed, but the price tag is hefty. “The need for a global plan for hepatitis C is imperative. It should include research and operational priorities, and establish global funding mechanisms.” this editorial concludes.




36. Lancet (Early Online) – The origins, development, effects, and future of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control: a personal perspective

Derek Yach;

This review of 50 years of policy development aimed at reducing the burden of disease attributable to tobacco reviews the origins and strategies used in forging the WHO FCTC, from the perspective of somebody who was there.


37. Business week – Merck to Bristol-Myers Face More Threats on India Drug Patents

Pharmaceutical companies from Merck & Co. to Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. face fresh threats to protecting their patents in India as a government-appointed panel prepares to evaluate more drugs for local makers to copy.


Health Policy & Financing


38. Lancet – Offline: Ban Ki-moon’s global health initiative in jeopardy

Richard Horton;

For everybody who believes the world needs a Grand Convergence (and I’m one of them), this article on Ban Ki Moon’s initiative, “Every Woman, Every Child” (and the monitoring financing problems), serves as a reminder that the road to get there will be tough.


39. Swiss Administration: New partnership to support access to health interventions

Switzerland and the Gates Foundation join forces to improve access to health interventions through the strengthening of regulatory systems The Gates Foundation, the Swiss Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA) and the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) have agreed on a Memorandum of Understanding to improve and accelerate access to health interventions and therapeutic products in resource-constraint countries.


40. GAVI – U.S. commits US$ 175 million to the GAVI Alliance

In a press release, the GAVI Alliance announced the U.S. has committed an additional $175 million toward funding global vaccine programs through the GAVI Alliance, the largest amount that the U.S. has ever appropriated to GAVI. The funds are part of the fiscal year 2014 U.S. budget.

41. Lancet Global Health – Global diarrhoea action plan needs integrated climate-based surveillance

Ali S Akanda et al.;

To control the global diarrhoeal disease burden will need a focus on a combination of recent advances in global predictive and surveillance capabilities using climatic and environmental information, and proven successes in treatment and prevention. Coupled with advances at the local scale of diarrhoeal treatment, innovative solutions such as simple filtration measures during extreme weather conditions, and vaccines as proven by improved survival rates, an integrated climate-based surveillance mechanism could provide predictive monitoring of vulnerable regions and strengthen the global health community’s ability to reduce the disease burden.”

42. Janssen – Janssen Announces New Group Targeting Unmet Global Health Needs

Janssen, the pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson, announced the formation of Janssen Global Public Health (Janssen GPH), an important new group unifying Janssen’s commitment to research, develop, and deliver transformational medicines to address the world’s greatest unmet public health needs. Janssen GPH will align the company’s groundbreaking science and innovative access models under a single entity to drive better health outcomes, improve quality of life for patients, and sustainably advance health for people all over the world.”


43. Lancet Global Health – Maternal mortality in adolescents compared with women of other ages: evidence from 144 countries

Andrea Nove et al.;

The authors of this paper suggest, based on their findings, that the excess mortality risk to adolescent mothers might be less than previously believed, and that in most countries the adolescent maternal mortality ratio is low compared with women older than 30 years. However, these findings should not divert focus away from efforts to reduce adolescent pregnancy, which are central to the promotion of women’s educational, social, and economic development, they say.


44. Forbes – Rajiv Shah and Tony Blair on Impact Investing

Forbes contributor Rahim Kanani interviews USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair about the state and future of ‘impact investing’ as it relates to global health, governance, and social progress more broadly.


Meanwhile, in another sign of the times, Australia cut its aid to global health, among others (see here).


Emerging Voices



45. Panafrican Medical Journal – Barriers to antenatal syphilis screening in Burkina Faso

Fadima Yaya Bocoum et al;

Barriers to antenatal syphilis screening in Burkina Faso;

This article is part of a special issue on ‘Promoting health research in Africa: research from emerging African scholars in health’. “Despite advances in treatment and management, syphilis remains a major public health problem in Burkina Faso. Syphilis in pregnancy poses major health risks for the mother and the fetus and also increases the risk for HIV transmission. Despite its potential benefits, antenatal syphilis screening is often poorly implemented in many sub-Saharan African countries. The purpose of the study is to identify and understand barriers affecting health system performance for syphilis screening among pregnant women in Burkina Faso.


46. WHO Bulletin – Health system strengthening and hypertension awareness, treatment and control: data from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study

Feng Xing Lin;

The authors investigated the prevalence, awareness, treatment and control of hypertension in China by using data from a national survey that was conducted in 2011–2012. The results indicate that changes in health financing and insurance may improve the detection and management of hypertension in China.



Global health announcements



  • Health Systems Global has two new thematic groups : Translating Evidence into Action & Community Health Workers in Health System Development


  • The agenda for the African Health Economics Association/ AfHEA Conference in Nairobi in March is now online.


  • Two upcoming global health events in Switzerland:


–          Upcoming Symposium in Switzerland on Value for Money –    “Is ‘Value for Money’ the best Approach for Improving Weak Health Systems?” (Basel, 9 April)

–          Geneva Global Health Forum (Geneva, 15-17 April): Registration is now open.





47. IDS Paper :  Reimagining Development 3.0 for a Changing Planet

Jon Moris;;jsessionid=A768605224DC0499A7C86E1147AC3D0B?sequence=1

I have a hunch I already advertised this working paper enough in this newsletterJ. Nevertheless: if you only read one paper this week, let it be this one.


Other interesting articles related to broader development issues this week:


  • J Sachs made ‘The case for aid’ (in  Foreign policy). The opposite would have been news.


  • Kevin Watkins (ODI) discusses the rising importance of inequality on the global agenda ( see here). Great viewpoint.


  • Duncan Green wonders why the financial crisis so far hasn’t produced anything like the New Deal (so far) ( see here ). 

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