Dear Colleagues,

As if the phone hacking scandal didn’t suffice, this week’s riots in London and other British cities dealt another heavy blow to the UK reputation. Cameron’s “Big Society” is there now for everybody to see, and guess what: it seems to wear hoodies (the looters) and doner knives (the vigilante groups). “Value for money”, if you allow us.

Read the rest of this editorial

Enjoy your reading.

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

Global Health Policy & Financing


1. Lancet (editorial) – Health in the Horn of Africa: a collective response needed

A Lancet editorial dwells on the famine in the Horn of Africa. The international community should do more, especially China.


2. Lancet – World Hepatitis Day: a new era for hepatitis control

John W. Ward et al;

In recognition of a public health issue that affects more than half a billion people worldwide, the World Health Assembly has designated July 28 as World Hepatitis Day. Every year, this day will challenge the world to meet the urgent need for prevention and control of viral hepatitis and to ensure the best possible care and treatment for those infected.


Another Lancet  Comment (already online for some time) sketches the last mile in global poliomyelitis eradication.


3. BMJ (news) – South Africa’s rising maternal mortality is due to health system failures, says report

Peter Moszynski;

Despite having the highest health spending per person in sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa is unlikely to meet its target of reducing maternal mortality under the United Nations’ millennium development goals, says a new report by Human Rights Watch.


The Global Fund Observer has a new issue, with among others an article on funding for round 11, and some news on a new publication, “Access, Accountability and Rights: Your Voices, Your Views on the Global Fund,” which contains articles prepared by the Key Correspondent Team, a network of community-based writers hosted by the International HIV/AIDS Alliance.


4. Social science & Medicine – The promise of human rights for global health: A programmed deception?

David Reubi;

Reubi comments on Schrecker et al.’s article “Advancing health equity in the global market place: how human rights can help”. He has three concerns in particular.


The authors of the original article already replied, and address some of his concerns in another SS&M article.


Fascinating discussion, with two extreme positions. Labonte et al. are dominant ‘Right to Health’ scholars, while Ruebi reckons they’re being naive. The truth lies perhaps somewhere in the middle. The Right To Health Approach could take decades, or perhaps as much as 100 years, before real changes in the world materialize (compare with the history of the eradication of slavery, or with the (faster) fight for access to ART). Framing the problem in the human rights paradigm seems useful, to kickstart a change of thinking. (Cameron might not be in the mood for it, though, this weekend.)


Speaking of human rights and health, the journal “Health & Human Rights” has a new issue, with several editorials on the intersections of health and human rights.



5. BMJ (Feature) – “Irrelevant WHO outpaced by younger rivals”

Nigel Hawkes;

The WHO’s critics accuse it of being bogged down in red tape and internal politics. However, attempts at reform are raising concerns over conflicts of interest. Nigel Hawkes reports.

6. Science Speaks – How will global health programs fare post debt ceiling deal?

Meredith Mazzotta & Christine Lubinski;

This Science Speaks post tries to find out how global health programs might fare after the debt ceiling deal.

7. Health Affairs – Setting Cost-Effectiveness Thresholds As A Means To Achieve Appropriate Drug Prices In Rich And Poor Countries

Patricia M. Danzon et al;

The authors recommend that countries and payers set their own cost-effectiveness thresholds to reflect how much they are willing to pay for “health gain”—in other words, for a measured improvement in the health of a person or a population. Adopting this approach broadly should lead to appropriate price differences across and within countries, benefiting consumers and manufacturers alike.


8. The International Journal of Health Planning and Management – Developing country health systems and the governance of international HIV/AIDS funding

Nana Poku & Jim Whitman;

This study focuses on how donor–recipient relations could be better deliberated, negotiated and coordinated. The authors argue that effective leadership and governance of developing country health systems for HIV/AIDS work requires a reconfiguration of how donor–recipient relations are conceived and contracted, and for this purpose, they propose an adaptation of the Paris Declaration principles of aid effectiveness.


9. Guardian – Pfizer pays out to Nigerian families of meningitis drug trial victims

Pfizer pays compensation to families of four children after a 15-year legal battle over a controversial drug trial in the Nigerian state of Kano.

NCDs & upcoming UN high-level meeting


10.   WHO Bulletin – Development at risk: addressing noncommunicable diseases at the United Nations high-level meeting

Ala Din Alwana, Gauden Galea & David Stuckler;

The authors stress that reducing the burden of NCDs is not just a technical problem, but a political problem as well, and give a brief overview of WHO preparations for the high-level summit until now.


11.   WHO Bulletin – Action on noncommunicable diseases: balancing priorities for prevention and care

Dermot Maher & Nathan Ford;

A balance must be found between the upstream, multisectoral policies for NCD prevention for the benefit of future generations, and the downstream, health-sector interventions for ensuring that people currently with NCDs obtain quality care.


In a BMJ blog post, Richard Smith assesses how the preparations for the UN meeting on NCDs are going. Wobbly, apparently.


Globalization & Health published an article on the private sector & NCDs.


12.   Lancet (letters) – Priority actions for the non-communicable disease crisis

Josefien van Olmen et al. ;

The Lancet features a number of letters replying to the article by Beaglehole et al. on priority actions for the NCD crisis. This reaction by one of our colleagues noted a skewed attention towards the prevention of risk factors. The message on how NCDs should be integrated into present health care in low-resource settings remained unclear. Other letters stress that mental health is being overlooked, and that in order to take meaningful action to reduce NCDs, it will be necessary to reverse the trend that has shifted power away from governments to corporations.


The answer of Beaglehole & Bonita to the criticism is rather short and perhaps a bit too easy – we need to see their real commitment to health systems (rather than a new vertical approach).


Development & Aid


Busan is approaching, and the debate on post-2015 development & aid is also gaining momentum.


On the ODI website, you find a recent speech by Jonathan Glennie on “Who should lead the aid effectiveness debate in the future”. A first draft outcome document for the 4th high level forum on aid effectiveness is available.  An AFGH article gives some feedback on a recent exchange of views on aid effectiveness in the European Parliament’s Development Committee. Ownership, transparency and accountability were the buzz words.


Jonathan Glennie is all over the place these weeks. He published an ODI working paper on the role of aid to MICs (in the evolving EU development policy and in general). He also wrote a very nice opinion for the Guardian’s Global Development blog on the fact that development experts from the north would do well to gain some historical perspective before arriving in poor countries full of ideas and fancy economic tools on how to tackle poverty.


If  Glennie is the Harry Potter of development circles, then this Backgrounder from the Heritage Foundation can be seen as some wicked Voldemort thinking : the US should link foreign aid and UN General Assembly Voting.


Deborah Brautigam has two new papers on Chinese aid in Africa, and Global humanitarian Assistance features this briefing paper on non-DAC donors and humanitarian aid.


Finally, an ODI blog post (by Claire Melamed)  reflects on ODI’s “after 2015” series. Interesting stuff.

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