Dear Colleagues,

This week, our Emerging Voices colleague from the Philippines, Raoul Bermejo, sent us this guest-editorial on the PMAC conference he attended in Bangkok. To get a feel of the vibes there, check out also the blog posts from David and others on our IHP blog, with key messages, impressions and memorable quotes. 

UHC: intolerance for inequities

Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is intolerance for health inequities. This is a key message at the … Read the rest of this editorial here.

Enjoy your reading.

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

UHC- PMAC conference

1.UHC forward – The Rockefeller Foundation’s Heather Grady on politics, policy-making, and the implementation of health financing and delivery mechanisms

Heather Grady;

The UHC forward blog features this interesting post on a session in Bangkok.
You can find two more posts on the PMAC conference on our IHP blog.

Global Fund saga and AIDS funding

2.UNAIDS reference group on HIV and Human rights – The Global Fund and the Crisis of HIV Funding — A Severe Setback for HIV and Human Rights: Statement and Recommendations (PDF 243 Kb)

The UNAIDS reference group on HIV and Human Rights comments on the financial troubles at the Global Fund (with the cancellation of round 11), and makes some recommendations.

3.Guardian – What does the second decade hold for the Global Fund?

A. Kelly;

Excellent Guardian article looking ahead to the second decade for the Global Fund.

4.Nature (column) –  Global health hits crisis point

Laurie Garrett;

The Global Fund’s drive to ensure sustainability and efficiency means that it may not be able to meet its commitments to combat disease, argues Laurie Garrett.
The Wall Street Journal featured a short interview with the new General Manager of the Global Fund, aka ‘the Banker’. Meanwhile, rumour has it that Bill Steiger is already warming up in Geneva.
CGD’s Amanda Glassman reckons a banker is good for the global fund: exactly what the GF needs in these difficult times of austerity and turmoil (but not exactly in line with the populist mood in the streets, perhaps).
Speaking of the mood in the streets, in Kenya HIV activists demonstrated against the GF funding cuts.
A new UNAIDS brief explores ways for Africa to develop home-grown solutions to AIDS care.

Malaria and Tuberculosis

5.Lancet (editorial) – New estimates of malaria deaths: concern and opportunity

This Lancet editorial comments on a new piece of data crunching by the Murray team, obviously a must-read for Global Health experts. “The results we report today show how essential it is for donors to recommit to the Global Fund, as they did last summer for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation.”
Check out the Guardian and Humanosphere for some of the key messages of this malaria study, and possible controversy.
WHO Bulletin has a new (February) issue. It features an editorial on multidrug-resistant tuberculosis and an editorial on a landmark decision for maternal mortality and human rights, among others.

There’s also a new issue of the Health & Foreign Policy Bulletin.

Health Policy & Financing

6.Guardian – Ivory coast: Free health care ends

Sad news from a few African countries. Last week, Ivory Coast dropped free health care for all.
And this week’s Economist has this somewhat gloomy article on Sierra Leone’s free health care.

7.CGD – Global Health Initiative 2.0: Effective Priority-Setting in a Time of Austerity

Amanda Glassman and Denizhan Duran;

CGD has two new publications on Obama’s Global Health Inititiative. This one, by Amanda Glassman and Denizhan Duran, sketches a Global Health Initiative 2.0. Another one, by Nandini Oomman and Rachel Silverman, summarizes the current status of this major development initiative, highlights the challenges for the GHI, and proposes specific recommendations for a way forward.
If your time is precious, a blog post summarizes some the key messages of both publications.

Public Private Partnerships

8.Lancet Online – Will increased funding for neglected tropical diseases really make poverty history?

Tim Allen & Melissa Parker;
The authors comment on the DFID announcement (on January 21st) of a fivefold increase in its support for programmes to control neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

9.BMJ news – Governments and drug companies pledge to eliminate 10 neglected tropical diseases by 2020

Anne Gulland;
The big NTD news came this week. Public and private sector partners—including the governments of the UK, US, and the United Arab Emirates; 13 drug companies; and Bill Gates— pledged to work together towards the elimination of 10 neglected tropical diseases by 2020.
Humanosphere’s Tom Paulson reflects on the news, including the fact that some key questions seem to be neglected. An MSF Access campaign poston the Plos ‘Speaking of Medicine’ blog also dwells on the announcement.

Over to NCDs. We would like to draw your attention to a Lancet letter on NCDs by somebody from the Food and beverage industry. Project Syndicate features an op-ed by Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff who doesn’t seem to agree with the food and beverage spokesman. “Coronary capitalism”, that’s a term we hadn’t come across yet.

10.   CSIS publication – The Private-Sector role in Public Health

J. Sturchio & A. Goel;
CSIS published a new report on the role of the private sector in Public Health.
In Tropical Medicine and International Health, Pol De Vos et al. draw some lessons from Cuba. Public health services are an essential determinant of health during a crisis. And not just then.
From Cuba over to Davos. As we already reported last week, Bill Gates announced some nice stuff in Switzerland (although there were apparently disappointingly few journalists at his press conference). But there was more. “Two groundbreaking initiatives, aimed at realistically achieving the once-unthinkable goal of ending new HIV infections among children by the end of 2015, were launched simultaneously at the World Economic Forum” on Friday. The Business Leadership Council for a Generation Born HIV Free was launched together with a Social Media Syndicate that is designed to reach billions of people around the world … The Syndicate will evolve to focus on other MDG goals over the coming months.


11.   Harvard PGDA working paper – Strengthening Health Systems: Perspectives for economic evaluation

Till Bärnigshausen et al.;
The authors argue that the recent shift towards funding HSS as opposed to funding only stand-alone HIV interventions has the potential to increase the effectiveness, efficiency, and sustainability of HIV programs. But several issues arise when considering when and how to combine HSS interventions with HIV-focused programs, and how to evaluate their costs and benefits.

12.   Plos (editorial) – A New Year at PLoS Medicine: Maintaining a Focus on the World’s Health Priorities and Identifying the Gaps
In the January editorial, the PLoS Medicine editors review the journal’s contents in light of its mission and scope, and call for papers on specific topics.

13.   Lancet (world report) –  Regulation failing to keep up with India’s trials boom

Amy Yee;
Ethical violations in clinical trials in India have exposed gaping holes in the country’s regulatory system, which has struggled to oversee the booming industry. Amy Yee reports from New Delhi.
Related to this news, WHO published Standards and Operational Guidance for Ethics Review of Health-Related Research with Human Participants.
Finally, Richard Smith and Kara Hanson published a new book: “Health systems in LMICs – an economic and policy perspective”. We haven’t read it yet, but it sure sounds interesting.

Post MDG talks

14.   BMJ (news) – Targets on non-communicable diseases need to be part of new millennium goals being designed for 2015

Matthew Limb;
Organisations working to combat non-communicable diseases worldwide say that the timetable for developing crucial targets “cannot afford to slip.” Especially as the MDG+ goals are to be decided soon.

Speaking of the MDG+ framework, Ban Ki Moon’s Global Sustainability Panel has issued a new report that outlines a framework for sustainable development. Jeffrey Sachs was one of the first to comment on it.

Emerging Voices


15.   Asian Social Work & Policy (Brief Communication) – Can a Sector-Wide Approach Underpin and Advance Universal Health Coverage?

Anar Ulikpan, Peter Hill, Asmat Ullah Malik, George Shakarishvili, Indermohan Narula;
This article aims to explore the potential contribution of a systemic approach—the sector-wide approach (SWAp)—to achieving UHC, using the Mongolian context as an example.

16.   Lancet (Correspondence) – A tale of devolution, abolition, and performance

Asmat Malik, Anar Ulikpan et al. ;

Despite the lacklustre performance of the Ministry of Health in Pakistan, central policy and regulatory functions will still be needed in a developing health system. However, it will require a radical overhaul, argue the authors.

17.   Santé – Leadership and vision in the improvement of universal health care coverage in low-income countries

Z.C. Meda et al.;
Clément Meda published an extended version of his Emerging Voices essay in Cahiers Santé. He argues that more health can be achieved at the same price when Local Health Systems managers exert leadership and vision. The article is in French but an abstract in English is available.

Development & Aid

Some news we picked up on the Guardian ‘Poverty matters’ blog:
* The UK government postpones its election promise to pass into law a commitment to give 0.7% of national income in foreign aid.
* The European commission’s latest statement on development policy reveals its continued emphasis on serving corporate interests ahead of combating poverty.

CFR features an article on the New Deal for fragile states, agreed in Busan.
Finally, there’s a debate on ‘Peak Oil’ going on, that could be of interest for some of our readers. Check out this article by Charles Kenny and also the (opposing) viewpoint in the Guardian.

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