Dear Colleagues,

This week, as they are set to host the G8 meeting next week in Deauville, France is being scolded for backsliding on aid to Africa as agreed at the 2005 G8 meeting in Gleneagles. Next year’s French presidential hopeful and (now ex) IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was also brought down by an allegation of sexual assault in his New York luxury suite by a chambermaid, 32 year old west African immigrant, and single mother of a teenage daughter. The WHO alludes to the kind of inequalities that make the expectation of aid and the alleged assault possible in an analysis of the 2011 World Health Statistics showing a gap of 23 years in life expectancy between people in the richest countries and those in the poorest. Amartya Sen reminds us though in an article comparing the effects of economic growth in India vs. China that the reach and impact of economic prosperity depend greatly on what the government does with the increased public revenue.

Read the rest of this editorial

Enjoy your reading.

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

World Health Assembly

1. WHO – World health statistics 2011

In addition to the publication of the World health statistics for this year, the WHO also launched the Global Health Observatory, a new website that “provides easy access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of health data, bringing together the organization’s data from all major health and disease programmes”.

2. Delhi Statement – “Time to Untie the Knots: the WHO Reform and the Needs of Democratizing Global Health”

Representatives of organizations working on health and social justice, and of academia, governments and multilateral institutions, gathered in New Delhi from the 2nd till the 4th of May. They addressed the need for effective and accountable global governance for health. Here is their Full statement PDF(27 Kb)

3.  News updates out of World Health Assembly

As you are probably aware, the 64th World Health Assembly is ongoing. Naturally, the reform and financing of the WHO are getting plenty of attention, for example in mainstream press pieces, and on the KFF website. The opening address by Margaret Chan, Bill Gates on the upcoming ‘decade of vaccines’, again Chan on the funding crisis of WHO, … and we’re only halfway. This year, the WHA also makes an effort to jump on the social media bandwagon.

Global Health

4. Globalization and Health – The Health Systems Funding Platform: Is this where we thought we were going?

Peter S Hill, Peter Vermeiren, Katabaro Miti, Gorik Ooms and Wim Van Damme


G&H just published a paper by our colleagues on a case study using documentary analysis, participant observation and in-depth interviews to examine the processes of development and key issues raised by the Health Systems Funding Platform. Provisional PDF (250 Kb)

5. Social Science & Medicine – Democracy and Growth in Divided Societies: A Health-Inequality Trap?

Timothy Powell-Jackson, Sanjay Basu, Dina Balabanova, Martin McKee and David Stuckler;

Improving economic growth and democratic governance are insufficient to achieve child and maternal health targets in communities with high levels of persistent social inequality. To reduce child and maternal mortality in highly divided societies, it will be necessary not only to increase growth and promote democratic elections, but also empower disenfranchised communities.

A new issue of  Global health magazine focuses on “Changing the paradigm for women & girls”. The issue highlights a number of ways to do that, including: access to knowledge, better nutrition, empowerment and the ability for women & girls to make their own choices; and the role of community health workers and other caregivers in providing accessible services.

6. Global Health – IHP+: the silent partner(ship) of global health

Andrew Harmer;

It’s time to start demanding more of the IHP+, argues Andrew Harmer.

TDR, a United Nations Research Program that combats diseases of poverty won the 2011 Gates award for Global Health.

African LGBT advocates warn against cutting multilateral aid to Uganda, in protest of attempts to make homosexual acts crimes punishable by death. If this were to happen, the human rights situation could actually worsen, they claim.

And the Global Fund just published a new report with the 2010 results. 3 billion US $ was disbursed, a record.

Health Policy & financing

This week, Science Speaks featured an article titled ‘Waiting for GHI – Obama’s global health program likely to fall short of funding mark’, after John Donnelly (last week) likened Obama’s GHI to a ‘waiting for Godot’ experience.

This SP article dwells on the foreseeable funding shortfall of the GHI, and the need to do more with less money. Yet, how far can efficiency improvements go? What is your opinion in recipient countries?

7. TMIH – Communities of practice: the missing link for knowledge management on implementation issues in low-income countries?

Bruno Meessen, Seni Kouanda, Laurent Musango, Fabienne Richard, Valéry Ridde, Agnès Soucat;

New platforms should be created that gather all stakeholders who hold pieces of relevant knowledge for successful policies. These platforms will provide a way forward for knowledge management of implementation issues.

Recently, ODI organized a webinar on ‘Understanding and supporting networks: learning from theory and practice’. The webinar featured two papers that challenged the current ubiquity of networks and offered ideas and reflections for those facilitating networks.

8. BMJ (news) – World’s poorest countries can improve access to medicines through local production, says United Nations

John Zarocostas;

Local production of pharmaceuticals in some poor African and Asian countries has the potential to improve access to essential drugs for many of the one billion people who live in the world’s LDCs, says a United Nations expert report.

Health Systems

9. Global Health Hub – Building Armies of Community Health Workers

Sanjay Basu,

In an excellent blog post on CHWs, Sanjay Basu asks a couple of relevant questions: “what do we know about CHWs? Do CHW programs “work”, and should we pay for them?”


10.   Reuters – Generics deal cuts cost of AIDS drugs for poor

Kate Kelland;

The Clinton Health Access Initiative, UNITAID, and DFID secured a new price reduction in generic drugs for HIV.

11.   Foreign Policy – The HIV/AIDS gamechanger

Elizabeth Dickinson;

Elizabeth Dickinson talks about the implications of the new study showing efficacy of treatment as prevention. It will reunite prevention and treatment advocates, she argues, as treatment is an effective way of preventing transmission. A Lancet editorial in this week’s issue also dwelled on the recent study.

However, CGD’s Mead Over is not convinced.

In other HIV/AIDS related news, the U.N. Security Council will be discussing and most probably adopting unanimously this summer a resolution on HIV/AIDS.

12.   Nation – Kenya: Plan to Cut Reliance on Donor Cash in AIDS War

Walter Menya;

In Kenya, plans are under way to set up a local fund for HIV/AIDS treatment in a bid to stem dependence on donor aid.  The Kenyan government is seeking partnerships with the private sector to finance HIV care and research by establishing a trust fund.

Development & Aid

13.   AFGH – Stronger parliamentary oversight of budget support essential

Eva Nilsson;

The message coming from parliamentarians at the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) in Budapest was loud and clear: to provide budget support to countries with huge corruption, human rights violations or unstable macroeconomics there is a need to support civil society, academics or innovative projects who are not sufficiently funded by government channels.

In the same conference, Piebalgs said “budget support cannot be channelled to countries with huge corruption, human rights violations or unstable macroeconomics”. So where is BS to be used then? Maybe middle income countries are then the right countries to implement budget support with a limited risk. But for the latter, budget support will only make up peanuts in the global public budget. If we want to influence policy making in those countries we  need to support civil society, academics or innovative projects who are not well funded by government channels. The catalytic role the GFATM is playing in countries like India and China to push innovations in the care of HIV and TB patients should inspire us. DH

This summer an EC Communication is scheduled on Budget Support.

AFGH also has a blog post on grossly inflated inflated EU Aid, as reported by Aidwatch in a brand new publication.

14.   Financial Times – G8 accused of cover-up on aid targets

Chris Giles;

Looks like more international institutions are engaged in cover-ups of aid and aid targets, these days, see for example this FT article on the G8.

On the Guardian Poverty Matters blog, Jamie Drummond argued the G20 should start a serious discussion about how innovative financing mechanisms could accelerate global development. This should however not distract from concrete commitments on aid – he was referring to Sarkozy.

The big aid debate in the UK this week was sparked by a letter by Defense minister Liam Fox. For the broader picture on the Tory government and aid, we would like to draw your attention to Jonathan Glennie’s article in the Guardian.

15.   ODI blog – Fourth UN Conference on the LDCs – beyond business as usual?

Andrew Shepherd;

ODI’s Andrew Shepherd examines whether the recent UN conference on the LDCs was business as usual. CGD’s Kimberley Ann Elliott, for one, has the feeling that the Obama rhetoric does not match his deeds, at least when it comes to trade and LDCs.

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