Dear Colleagues,

After reading Elizabeth Becker’s rather gloomy  oped  on Cambodia and the preparations for the 20th anniversary of the Paris peace accords in the New York Times, we asked an insider familiar with the Cambodian civil society and NGO world for his assessment of the proposed law on civil society. He  wrote this message on the condition of anonymity.

The United Nations’ and the international community’s efforts and commitment to assist Cambodia in the first-ever National Election in 1993 after over 2 decades of chronic civil war will never be forgotten by the Cambodian people. The UN-held election in 1993 gave every Cambodian citizen the hope that Cambodia would embark on social and economic development in a democratic way.

Read the rest of this editorial

Enjoy your reading.

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

UN summit on Non Communicable Diseases

1.          Lancet (editorial) – Urgently needed: a framework for obesity control

A four-part Lancet Series critically examines what we know about the global obesity pandemic and how it is best tackled. Collaborative societal changes in many aspects of our environment are needed to avoid the morbid consequences of overweight and obesity. One immensely important next step could be the agreement on a framework convention for obesity control.

2.          Lancet – Reversing the tide of obesity

William H Dietz; FullText

Dietz summarizes the accompanying four papers in The Lancet series on obesity. The papers adress several crucial areas relevant to the impact and future course of the obesity epidemic, and point to necessary multicomponent and multisectoral policy measures.

3.          BMJ (Commentary) – UN high level meeting on non-communicable diseases: an opportunity for whom?

David Stuckler, Sanjay Basu & Martin McKee;

Stuckler et al. compare the upcoming UN high level meeting on NCDs with the high level meeting on HIV/AIDS a decade ago. Both are battlegrounds, pitting public interests against private ones. Yet, so far the role of activism is different.

4.          BMJ (Feature) – Will industry influence derail UN summit?

Deborah Cohen;

In the run up to the UN summit on NCDs, there are fears that industry interests might be trumping evidence based public health interventions. Will anything of value be agreed?

5.          New York Times Weekly – The Fight Against Chronic Disease

Yanzhong Huang;

Now is the time for BRICS countries to elevate universal health coverage in the fight against noncommunicable diseases, according to Yanzhong Huang.

6.          Plos – Corporate Social Responsibility and Access to Policy Élites: An Analysis of Tobacco Industry Documents

Gary J. Fooks, Anna B. Gilmore, Katherine E. Smith et al.;

Fooks and colleagues undertook a review of tobacco industry documents and show that policies on corporate social responsibility (CSR) can enable access to and dialogue with policymakers at the highest level.

Global Health

7.          BMJ – Global Health 2011 Event

BMJ Group and NICE International have joined forces to co-host a unique two day conference on policies for sustainable and effective healthcare. Taking place on 29 and 30 September 2011 at BMA House in London, Global Health 2011 will bring together experts from around the world to discuss and promote cost effective and evidence informed policy making as a means to improve health outcomes.

8.          KFF – Researchers Turn Their Attention To Chagas Disease As Developed Countries See Rise In Infection Rates

Chagas disease, a historically neglected tropical disease, is drawing increased attention as infection by the parasite spreads from Latin America to developed countries, such as Spain and the United States, Science reports. “The main reason for this rise is emigration from Latin America of large numbers of people who are already infected,” the magazine writes. This is obviously an example of research agendas for neglected disease influenced by health security concerns in rich countries.

9.          JAMA (Perspective)- As Production Goes Global, Drug Supply Faces Greater Risks to Safety, Quality

Bridget M. Kuehn;

This article reports on the increasing number of substandard drugs found in the US. As our colleagues from the “Quality Medicine for all” project can confirm, unfortunately this is a reality all over the world.


10.       Globalization and Health – Globalization and its methodological discontents: Contextualizing globalization through the study of HIV/AIDS

Garrett W Brown and Ronald Labonte;

This article by Brown & Labonte argues that to better understand what globalization is and how it affects issues such as global health, we must take a differentiating approach, which focuses on how the multiple processes of globalization are encountered and informed by different social groups and with how these encounters are experienced within particular contexts. The article focuses on three recent case studies conducted on globalization and HIV/AIDS.


11.       Plos – Building the Field of Health Policy and Systems Research: Social Science Matters

Lucy Gilson, Kara Hanson, Kabir Sheikh et al.;

In the second of a series of PLOS articles addressing the current challenges and opportunities for the development of Health Policy and Systems Research (HPSR), Lucy Gilson and colleagues argue the importance of insights from the social sciences.


12.       BMJ (news) – Integrate health services for refugees into national healthcare, says UN report

John Zarocostas;

Health services for refugees need to be integrated into the national healthcare systems of host countries, in a bid to alleviate the pressures of trying to meet the needs of millions of uprooted people, almost half of whom live outside designated camps, says a report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

13.       Science Speaks – Gates Foundation seeks Grand Challenges grant applicants

Meredith Mazzotta;

The 8th round of the Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative of the Gates Foundation, is accepting grant proposals for innovative and unconventional global health and development solutions. The online applications will be accepted until Nov. 17, 2011.

14.       Plos (blog) – WASHwatch: helpingtoholdgovernmentstoaccountontheircommitmentstothefundamentalfoundationsofhealth

Rhona McDonald;

In a Plos blog post, Rhona Mc Donald comments on the launch of  WASHwatch—an online platform for monitoring government policy commitments and budgets for water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), at World Water Week in Stockholm.

15.       Humanosphere – GlobalPost: Obama’s Global Health Initiative shuns abortion services

Tom Paulson;

The online international news organization GlobalPost has been taking an in-depth look at the Obama Administration’s Global Health Initiative (GHI) as part of its new endeavor, Global Pulse. One of the latest posts explores the problems caused by the ongoing prohibition of U.S. foreign aid funding of abortion services.

Global Fund

16.       Social Science & Medicine: The implementation of a global fund grant in Lesotho: applying a framework on knowledge absorptive capacity

Regien Biesma, Elsie Makoa, Regina Mmpemi, Lineo Tsekoa, Philip Odonkor and Ruairi Brugha;

This case study applies Cuellar and Gallivan’s framework on knowledge absorptive capacity to illustrate how recipient government organisations in Lesotho identified, assimilated and utilised knowledge on how to meet the disbursement and reporting requirements of Lesotho’s Round 5 grant from the GF.

17.       GFO (new issue) – HSS window updated guideline

There’s a new GFO issue this week. Among other things, they report on an updated guideline by healthsystems 20/20 for the HSS window inside the GF. Guideline in PDF form here.

18.       AP – Global Fund lifts China grant freeze

The Global Fund said Tuesday that it is lifting the freeze on funding to China to ensure AIDS work in the country continues while it works with government officials, representatives from United Nations’ agencies and private groups to resolve the dispute.


19.       Humanosphere – HIV in the Middle East and North Africa — Behind a Veil?

HIV epidemics are emerging among men who have sex with men in the Middle East and North Africa, researchers say. It’s a region where HIV/AIDS isn’t well understood, or studied.

20.       Lancet (letter) – Continued neglect of ageing of HIV epidemic at UN meeting

Joel Negin, Edward J Mills & Rachel Albone;

The UN HIV/AIDS meeting in New York failed to pay enough attention to the ageing of the HIV epidemic, according to Negin et al.

Aid & Development

21.       CGD – WhattheDebtDealMeansforForeignAidReform

CGD’s Casey Dunning explores the possible implications of the recent debt deal  on foreign aid reform. She says the consequences might not be as catastrophic as some predict.

22.       China in Africa – what can Western donors learn?

Deborah Brautigam; (PDF 4,3 Mb)

Is there anything we can learn from the Chinese approach to development partnerships in Africa? This paper outlines the Chinese model of development cooperation, and the implications of this approach for recipient countries (governments, business, and civil society) as well as for western donors and the international financial institutions (IFIs).

In an ODI blog post, Alison Evans sketches two possible outcomes of the conference in Busan.


If you have time, check out Dave Algoso’s blog, as he posted a few nice articles recently on the state of ‘big picture development & aid’ debates. For example here and here.


As usual, the Guardian Poverty Matters website also had some interesting reads:


  • DFID seems to neglect vital distinctions between the needs of domestic and foreign private sectors.
  • Some news related to the Robin Hood Tax campaign: a new report about computer-driven high frequency trading (HFT), compiled by supporters of the Robin Hood tax campaign, reveals a niche world of millions of transactions each day. The report highlights how HFT threatens a new financial crisis.
  • As for the outcomes of the AU summit on the crisis in the Horn of Africa, see for example this article in the Guardian and this article in Trustalert.
  • In Somaliland, less (foreign) money seems to have brought more democracy.


And finally, in India, Arundhati Roy also had her say on the Anna Hazare fast and commotion. Her excellent opinion piece in the Hindu has sparked quite some controversy in India, we have been told. So if you only read one op-ed this week, let it be this one.



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