Dear Colleagues,

On April 7th, WHO celebrated World Health Day. There wasn’t much to celebrate though, as antimicrobial resistance is this year’s theme. WHO issued a six point policy package for use by governments and stakeholders to help stem the problem. CGD has a blog post on World Health Day and drug resistance, and a post on the ongoing WHO Reform discussion. In other news, “vaccines from China could soon be used in global health programmes following the decision on 1 March to grant the Chinese State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) the right to regulate vaccine manufacturing. A comprehensive WHO-led review has concluded that the national regulatory authority of China complies with international standards for a functional vaccine regulatory system. This means that Chinese vaccine manufacturers are now eligible to apply for WHO prequalification and to supply vaccines to a global market.

David Cameron is losing the battle for the hearts and minds in his own country, but he brazenly went to Pakistan this week to tell people there that they have to tax their rich more (while carefully avoiding the topic of UK tax havens and British multinational companies and banks). Although this is surely an arrogant thing to do, from a domestic point of view, Cameron has a point. If you want to persuade an increasingly skeptical Western public of the use of aid, you will have to show that at least you’ re determined to make sure that recipient countries do their fair bit. Even more so in the dire economic times with budget cuts all over the place, that we know.

Speaking of budget cuts, let’s go to the US. It’s still not clear whether there will be a complete shutdown of government, but we would like to draw your attention to a couple of interesting reads. Global Health Hub features former Republican senator Bill Frist’s six-fold advice for engaging US lawmakers on global health. Nobody has so far figured out how you deal with the special species called ‘Tea Party politician’. And while we continue to wonder why labour rights are not higher on the agenda of the development and aid community, the think tank ‘Center for American Progress action Fund’ published a report on the value of unions for the middle class. We figure this issue is not very high on the agenda of the ‘like minded’donor group though …

Finally, Japan, “the world’s No. 5 donor, is considering cutting foreign aid by 20 percent this fiscal year to help fund its extra budget for disaster relief after last month’s massive quake and tsunami, media reported on Thursday.” No surprises there. Meanwhile, in Libya, it sure looks as if the rebels could use some “capacity building”.

Enjoy your reading.

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

HEALTH POLICY & FINANCING

1.    Mc Master University – Student Voices 2: Assessing Proposals for Global Health Governance Reform

Edited by Steven J. Hoffman

http://www.mcmasterhealthforum.org/images/docs/student-voices-2-assessing-proposals-for-global-health-governance-reform.pdf

This edited volume offers evidence-based assessments of thirteen existing proposals for global health governance reform.

Also related to Global Health Governance, this third paper in the Global health Europe (by Inge Kaul & David Gleicher) research series provides a discussion on global public goods theory and its relevance for governance for global health in Europe.

2.   Lancet (editorial) – HIV and injecting drug use: a global call for action

http://www.lancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(11)60475-3/fulltext

A Lancet editorial looks ahead to the UN High Level meeting on Aids, scheduled for June. The editorial mentions a new document—the Beirut Declaration on HIV and Injecting Drug UseA Global Call for Action. This document sets out how the international community has failed people who inject drugs and the actions now required by governments to make up for it.

3.   Lancet – Priority actions for the non-communicable disease crisis

Robert Beaglehole et al., for the Lancet NCD Action Group and the NCD Alliance

http://www.lancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(11)60393-0/fulltext

In the run-up to the UN High Level meeting on NCDs, the Lancet NCD Action Group and the NCD Alliance propose five overarching priority actions for the response to the crisis—leadership, prevention, treatment, international cooperation, and monitoring and accountability—and the delivery of five priority interventions—tobacco control, salt reduction, improved diets and physical activity, reduction in hazardous alcohol intake, and essential drugs and technologies.

Sarah Boseley also looked at the NCD response issue, on her Global Health blog.

4.   Lancet – Quality, quality, quality: gaps in the continuum of care

Wendy J GrahamBeena Varghese;

http://www.lancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(10)62267-2/fulltext

High and equitable coverage of services for reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health is a necessary but not sufficient condition for saving 16 million lives by 2015, a goal of the Global Strategy. These services must also provide good-quality care…”. “Yet this essential requirement has not featured prominently in earlier initiatives or in national plans for reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health in most of the world’s poorest countries, despite evidence about the perils of ignoring quality.”

5.   Journal of the international AIDS society –  Driving a decade of change: HIV/AIDS, patents and access to medicines for all

Ellen ‘t Hoen , Jonathan Berger , Alexandra Calmy  and Suerie Moon;

http://www.jiasociety.org/content/14/1/15

The authors look back on the past decade in terms of access to ARVs, and point to the looming treatment bomb. They consider the UNITAID-supported Medicines Patent Pool a useful and innovative approach, but mention the Pool is just one of a broad set of policies needed to ensure access to medicines for all. Other key measures include sufficient and reliable financing, research and development of new products targeted for use in resource-poor settings, and use of patent law flexibilities.

6.   Plos Medicine Policy Forum –- The African Women’s Protocol: Bringing Attention to Reproductive Rights and the MDGs

Liesl Gerntholtz, Andrew Gibbs, Samantha Willan;

http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1000429

Gerntholtz and colleagues discuss the African Women’s Protocol, a framework for ensuring reproductive rights are supported throughout the continent and for supporting interventions to improve women’s reproductive health, including the MDGs.

7.   WHO Bulletin (editorial) – Complex systems analysis: towards holistic approaches to health systems planning and policy

Babak Pourbohloul  & Marie-Paule Kieny ;

http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/89/4/11-087544/en/index.html

In the words of the authors: “Health systems defy simple representation. They call for novel ways of thinking to improve our ability to predict and control individual and population-based health outcomes. A holistic framework is needed to capture disparate diseases and health conditions and their intricate relationships into a unified platform. Such frameworks are developed using complex network analysis.” Andrew  “We will not let complexity stop us from determining whether we are achieving value for money”  Mitchell might not fully agree.

8.   BMJ (Comment)  – Climate change, ill health, and conflict

Lionel Jarvis et al;

http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d1819

Climate change, ill health and conflict are interrelated, so the medics and the military should work together. This topic will also be discussed at a forthcoming open meeting “Climate change—how to secure our future wellbeing: a health and security perspective” to be held at BMA House on 20 June 2011.

9.   TMIH (editorial) – Fairness in service choice: an important yet underdeveloped path to universal coverage

R. Baltussen et al;

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-3156.2011.02780.x/full

In a TMIH editorial, the authors point to one of the rather neglected paths to UHC. “We believe that consideration of factors related to service coverage i.e. ‘which services are covered’, and ‘for which services should coverage be improved’ should also play a critical role in setting policy directions, as the choice of services has a profound impact on the coverage by the health system.”

10.   Lancet – Transforming health professionals’ education — Authors’ reply

Julio Frenk, Lincoln Chen;

http://www.lancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(11)60500-X/fulltext

In response to The Lancet’s Commission on education for health professionals, today’s Correspondence section and an online Comment discuss the contribution of ethics, social mission, primary care, and local health needs to inform curriculum design. In this newsletter, we feature an authors’ reply (by Frenk & Chen).

11.   Guardian – How the poor can pay for life-saving medicines

Thomas Pogge;

http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/apr/07/how-poor-pay-for-medicines

Pogge explains the concept of a Health Impact Fund for interested Guardian readers.

In March, the Global Health Council published a report on the gaps and opportunities of US global health policies. The report zooms in on the US global HIV/AIDS policy, malaria policy, TB policy, and the maternal, newborn, child and reproductive health policies. Check it out.

GLOBAL HEALTH RESEARCH

We would like to draw your attention to a few articles and/or viewpoints on global health research:

  • A new TMIH viewpoint on the relative and absolute addressability of the global disease burden in maternal and perinatal health by investment in R&D
  • A study (2010) in  AIDS care on the effects of national and international HIV/AIDS funding and governance mechanisms on the development of civil-society responses to HIV/AIDS in East and Southern Africa.  The study takes stock of the exponential growth in the number of new civil-society organisations (CSOs) working in the HIV/AIDS field in East and Southern Africa during the period 1996-2004.
  • This week, the Lancet published an article on current and future activities related to Health Systems strengthening. It already appeared online in September 2010.

DEVELOPMENT & AID

12.   AFGH – Improving health aid effectiveness is vital, so why aren’t donors making the most of the money available?

Marta Monteso;

http://www.actionforglobalhealth.eu/blog/?p=983

Monteso comments on the 2010 figures released by the OECD on development aid. She’s not particularly happy with what she sees.

You can find more information on (and an assessment of ) the OECD figures on the Guardian Poverty Matters blog, for example here and here.

13.   EU Observer – Bill Gates pessimist on MDGs

http://euobserver.com/9/32127

Bill Gates was in Europe this week, in countries like France, Germany, … He also visited the European Parliament, and was very frank in his assessment. Althoughprivate philantropy needs to do more, the main commitment still needs to be one of donor governments, he argued.  Too bad he didn’t stress the fact that, for this to happen, donor governments need to properly tax the wealthy.

In Germany, he made a “matching gift pledge” (for German aid to GAVI). This sort of pledge by the Gates Foundation seems intended to help prop-up foreign aid as European and other governments look to slash government spending. Preserving foreign aid spending for MDGs has been a centerpiece of his personal advocacy recently. He also laid out his Living Proof Project, in Paris and elsewhere.

In related news, the GAVI  Alliance announced the suspension of funds in several countries (Niger, Cote d’Ivoire and Cameroon) to investigate possible misuse. During the investigation, however, the affected countries will continue to receive vaccines.

DFID will also have to try to minimize corruption, given its new focus on fragile states, according to the UK National Audit Office.

And Owen Barder is back from holidays; he has an interesting blog post on transparency: “ten steps for meaningful aid transparency.”

14.   Guardian – Fragile states speak up on aid spending

http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/apr/01/fragile-states-g7-speak-aid-conflict

The g7+ group of the poorest nations wants aid focused on addressing conflict and security. Could 2011 be the year donors start to listen?

Finally, in a new – and timely – book,  Lisa Ann Richey and Stefano Ponte give a critical account of the rise of celebrity-driven “compassionate consumption”: “Brand Aid: Shopping well to save the world”.

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