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Dear Colleagues,

Many of you are probably already in the Christmas mood, so we’ll keep it short. Our IHP newsletter will take a week off – so don’t check your mailbox (or spam mail box) next Friday!

It’s the time of the year, so just like everybody else we were wondering what the main global health events and trends  were in 2011. Many of you responded positively to our request for feedback on this. You find everybody’s opinion here.  Thanks a lot for this!


To end this turbulent year, we thought it would be nice if we could offer you an African viewpoint on the way things are going (or not going) in the world, through the eyes of our Indian colleague and Emerging Voice, NS Prashanth. Here’s what he wrote, after attending Femi Kuti’s gig last week in Antwerp. (Femi Kuti is a popular Nigerian musician; social and political commitment is his middle name. )

Singing the Afrobeat pioneered by his father, Femi Kuti’s band Positive Force performed at De Roma club in Antwerp. Backdrop: a chilly winter night in late December. Like his father Fela Kuti, Femi shows a strong commitment to social and political issues and indeed the theme of his concert “Africa for Africa” underscored the need for African unity and the importance of self-determination of aspirations and priorities of Africa by Africans.

This tour has got good press (and reception) earlier for its theme of African unity. Femi asked his (partly Belgian) audience also to take a good look at their own Western democracies. Are they really democracies? Are they for the people? Are they by the people? Continuing on this theme through his fast-paced songs, he questioned the democracy in the West and highlighted the need for Western governments to wake up and realise their commitment to people rather than corporations. Recalling the impact of the Occupy demonstrations worldwide, he reminded his audience that democracy begins by voting, but merely having a vote does not mean that the governments we get are “for or by the people”. He urged Belgians to altogether boycott voting to show the power of the people. 

Indeed a strong message and a wonderful medium (music) to convey socio-political themes. Whether the “boycott to vote” that Femi declared is a wise approach, that remains to be seen, but at least his intentions were clear – better governance and  public interest. And that’s something we all want, whether we live in Africa, India or the West.”

(NS Prashanth)


Enjoy your reading.

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

Global Health policy and financing

1. Science Speaks – Budget PEPFAR takes a hit in 2012 funding bill; Military HIV Research Program sustains funding after close call

Meredith Mazzotta;

The US Congress put its seal of approval on a $1 trillion-plus spending bill to fund the government for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2012. The bill allocates $8.17 billion to global health programs, an increase of more than $320 million over FY 2011 enacted levels. Nevertheless, critical global health programs still took a hit.

CGD’s Denizhan Duran also wrote a post on the proposed total global health appropriation for FY2012. He reckons the spirit of GHI is alive. (and if you think it’s dead, we suggest you just vote for Gingrich).

2. Lancet – Call for a World Dengue Day

Sai Kit Lam et al.;

Given the increasing scale of the dengue problem, a united, global response is required to bring it under control. Hence, dengue researchers, physicians, and public health representatives from around the world propose the establishment of a World Dengue Day, to underscore the effect of dengue worldwide and to encourage a much-needed global response.

3. Two blog posts on the IHP blog: more feedback on ICASA conference & top global health events and trends in 2011

  • Last week we already had a number of perspectives on the ICASA conference – for example an Asian one and a European one. We’re happy to offer you also an African perspective this week, by Abiy Hiruye, an eSCART alumnus from Ethiopia. Check it out. global health events 2011

  • As already mentioned in the intro, we asked our partners and network contacts what they thought were the main global health trends and events over the past year.

4. Science Speaks – AVAC outlines research and implementation path for ending the AIDS epidemic

Rabita Aziz;

There is now an unprecedented opportunity to curb new HIV/AIDS infections, save lives, and set the world on a path toward eliminating the AIDS epidemic, according to AVAC’s annual update on HIV prevention research.  In a new report, the advocacy group provides a three-part, science-based agenda for ending the AIDS epidemic in our lifetime, including a playbook which focuses specifically on the next 12 months.


5. Plos (Perspective) – Estimating the Burden of Malaria: The Need for Improved Surveillance

Ivo Mueller et al.;

This perspective discusses a new study by Richard Cibulskis and colleagues. In this study, the authors present estimates of the worldwide incidence of malaria in 2009, together with a critique of different estimation methods, including those based on risk maps constructed from surveys of parasite prevalence, and those based on routine case reports compiled by health ministries.

6. Plos (Policy forum) – A Comprehensive Framework for Human Resources for Health System Development in Fragile and Post-Conflict States

Noriko Fujita et al.;

The authors offer a comprehensive framework for human resource system development, based upon experiences in three fragile and post-conflict health systems: Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Cambodia.

7. Social Science & Medicine – Globalisation and health inequalities: Can a human rights paradigm create space for civil society action?

Leslie London, Helen Schneider;

This paper explores the seeming contradiction that globalisation is conceived as disempowering nations states’ ability to act in their population’s interests, yet implementation of human rights obligations requires effective states to deliver socio-economic entitlements, such as health. Central to the actions required of the state to build a health system based on a human rights approach is the notion of accountability. Two case studies are used to explore the constraints on states meeting their human rights obligations regarding health.

8. NEJM – Stemming the Brain Drain — A WHO Global Code of Practice on International Recruitment of Health Personnel

Allyn L. Taylor et al.;

Although the WHO Global Code of Practice on International Recruitment of Health Personnel doesn’t provide solutions to all the complex problems of health worker migration, it offers much needed guidance on possible policy and legislative approaches. There is growing evidence that its legal framework can work as a platform for cooperation to strengthen health workforce systems, the authors of this perspective claim.

9. Laurie Garrett (blog) – Publish AND Perish? Man-made Super-Flu

Laurie Garrett reacts to the commotion around the decision of the (US) National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity regarding publication of two scientific papers claiming to have made a “super-flu” variant of the H5N1 avian virus.

10.   Future Health systems (blog) – Health dragons or health hydras? The challenges of regulation in Asian health systems

Barun Kanjilal;

The author of this blog post dwells on the regulation of Asian health systems. She discerns health dragons and health hydras.


We also want to draw your attention to the new Health Diplomacy Monitor issue that gives a nice overview of things that happened in recent months.

Emerging Voices

11.   Panafrican Medical Journal – Health worker migration and universal health care in Sub-Saharan Africa

Isidore Sieleunou;

Isidore Sielenou argues that the Universal Coverage debate should be comprehensive. The international health community has so far mainly focused on financial affordability. Factors like service availability and adequate health personnel should also be taken into account.

Development & Aid

The Guardian has a podcast this week, looking back on 2011 from the angle of global development (featuring Sarah Boseley, Charles Kenny, …).

One of the participants in the debate was, obviously, Jonathan Glennie. He also wrote a blog post in the Guardian wondering whether protectionism will get back in vogue and what this would mean for poor countries.

Linda Raftree also assessed 2011. She noticed encouraging progress in terms of inclusion, openness, and authenticity, in the behaviour and organisation of development bodies.

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