Dear Colleagues,

We reckon most global health people are gearing up for the NCD summit. However, our guest-editorial already zooms in on the Summit on Social Determinants of Health, which will take place in Rio de Janeiro in October. Walter Flores, Emerging Voice from Guatemala, shows that some of the debates around the NCD summit and the Social Determinants summit have a lot in common.

World Conference on Social  Determinants of Health

We are less than six weeks away from the World Conference on Social Determinants of Health  convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Brazilian government (October 19-21).   The organization of this event started over a year ago and there have been different preparatory events, including a web-based consultation on the background document and WHO-regional consultations.

Read the rest of this editorial

Enjoy your reading.

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

Rio summit on Social determinants of health

1.    People’s Health Movement – Comments on draft Technical Paper prepared by WHO for social determinants conference in Rio

The People’s Health Movement comments on the draft Technical Paper prepared by the WHO for the Summit in Rio. The movement is disappointed for a number of reasons.

Non-Communicable Diseases & summit in New York

2.    BMJ (news) – Deaths from non-communicable diseases are highest in Afghanistan, lowest in Sweden

John Zarocostas;
Men and women in the world’s poorest countries are around three times more likely to die under the age of 60 from non-communicable diseases than those in rich countries, says a report from the WHO.


Toni Johnson wrote a Backgrounder on Global Action on NCDs. You find it on the CFR website.

3.    BMJ (news) – Commitment to tackling alcohol misuse is missing from UN summit declaration, experts say

Deborah Cohen;

As already reported in last week’s newsletter, (after months of negotiations and lobbying by industry groups, non-governmental organisations, and public health experts) national governments have finally agreed the political declaration that will form the spine of the UN summit on NCDs. Cohen sketches the nuanced reaction of the NCD Alliance. Of particular disappointment to public health advocates are the measures on alcohol control.


Check out also Deborah Cohen’s blog post on the declaration.


4.    Lancet (Correspondence) – An international consensus for medical leadership on alcohol

Cordelia Coltart et al.;

The authors ask governments to act urgently and to champion evidence-based initiatives for the implementation of effective alcohol strategies at all levels to improve the health of populations worldwide.


5.    BMJ letter – where did all the other NCDs go?

Gretchen L. Birbeck;

Birbeck asks the one billion dollar question. However, her letter is slightly different from what we expected. “Serious consideration is needed about which non-communicable diseases to discuss at this month’s United Nations meeting if people in low income countries are to benefit. The diseases selected are more problematic in high income than in low income countries. ”


By way of example (i.e. of overlooked NCDs), you might want to check out this article in the International Journal of Mental Health Systems, on mental health law in the community, focusing on Africa. Richard Smith also ponders the case of dementia on his BMJ blog.


6.    BMJ (Feature) – The prickly problem of access to insulin

Deborah Cohen;

Insulin remains unaffordable in many countries even though it is no longer protected by patents. Deborah Cohen examines why.


7.    BMJ (Commentary) – Politics of affordable insulin

Edwin A M Gale & John S Yudkin;

The diabetes pandemic increasingly affects low and middle income countries, where most of those affected have type 2 diabetes. Cheap generic versions of current first line treatments are widely available, so why does this not apply to insulin? Gale & Yudkin document the issue.


8.    Lancet (Correspondence) – Conflicts of interest and the UN high-level meeting on non-communicable diseases

Paul Lincoln et al.;

The authors recommend a number of actions to manage the issue of conflicts of interest for NCDs and to protect the integrity of the UN’s public-policy decision making on NCDs.


9.    BMJ (editorial ) – United Nations’ dietary policies to prevent cardiovascular disease

Dariush Mozaffarian & Simon Capewell;

Modest diet changes could halve the global burden, argue Mozaffarian & Capewell.

10.    WSJ – Bush Effort Targets Cervical Cancer in Developing World

George Bush is making the first major foray of his post presidency into global health, with a partnership to combat cervical and breast cancer in the developing world. The George W. Bush Institute is forming a public-private partnership to use PEPFAR’s existing infrastructure of doctors, nurses and clinics to expand screening and treatment of women for cervical cancer and perform breast cancer education in the developing world. The goal of the partnership is to reduce the number of cervical cancer deaths by 25 percent in five years in countries where it scales up screening and treatment.


11.    The Atlantic –  Global Chronic Disease: It’s Not All About the Money for Once

Amanda Glassman;

Non-communicable diseases can be reduced with simple, low or no-cost interventions that even the poorest countries can implement, argues CGD’s Glassman.


12.    Lancet – What global protection against women’s cancers?

Jan W. Coebergh;

Coebergh comments on Forouzanfar et al’s timely research on women’s cancers. “Clearly broad actions are warranted, supported by global funds and following the good example set by Scandinavian countries.” In case you have access, you find the Lancet article from the Murray team here.


Tom Paulson also comments on this timely research – given the upcoming NCD summit – on his Humanosphere website.


Access to Medicines & Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

13.    Issue Brief MSF – How the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Threatens Access to Medicines

MSF is very worried about the outcomes of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations in Chicago, and even more so after the US Trade Representative Office issued a white paper on the TPP and Access to Medicines, aiming to achieve” nine trade policy goals “to promote trade and reduce obstacles to access to both innovative and generic medicines, while supporting the innovation that is vital to developing new medicines and achieving other medical breakthroughs.” The announcement “confirms the role of trade policy” in the Obama Administration’s global public health strategy.


MSF reacted swiftly to the white paper with the following quote in the media:  “The USTR paper on the TPP and access to medicines, released today, is misleading and puts forth the fundamentally flawed premise that speeding up market entrance of brand-name, monopoly-priced drugs will, in itself, solve the challenge of access to affordable medicines. At heart, this is an issue of affordability, and USTR simply does not acknowledge that high priced brand-name drugs imposed by monopolies are a principal barrier to access to medicines.”


For a blog post from Tido von Schoenangerer on the topic, see the Huffington Post.

Global health policy and financing


14.    BMJ (news) – Coca-Cola supply chain helps bring diarrhoea treatments to developing world

Ingrid Torjesen;

The private sector is increasingly providing the infrastructure for innovative yet simple approaches for improving child and maternal health in the developing world, says a report from a United Nations task force.


15.    KFF – Global Child Mortality Rate Is Shrinking, But Not Enough To Reach MDG, UNICEF/WHO Report Says

The annual number of children who die before they reach age five is shrinking, falling to 7.6 million global deaths in 2010 from more than 12 million in 1990, UNICEF and the WHO said on Wednesday in their annual report on child mortality. Despite the progress, “improvements in child mortality rates will not be enough to meet the United Nation’s goal set in 2000 of reducing child mortality by two-thirds by 2015,” according to the report.

16.    AFGH – Health Financing – can it ever be simple?

There are a number of interesting blog posts on the AFGH website this week. So go and check them out. This one, for example, comments on a new website on health financing, where Save the Children and University College London help people to navigate the “complex and cumbersome world of health financing”.


There is also an AFGH blog post on EC support for GAVI;  the EC showed itself also generous in terms of support to South-Africa’s Primary Health Care, this week.

17.    Humanosphere – Gates Foundation again hires top drug company exec for global health mission

Tom Paulson;

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has again hired a leading pharmaceutical executive to run its biggest philanthropic mission, global health. Trevor Mundel, a guy from Novartis. Paulson comments.


18.    Global Health Check – A closer look at the role of Community based health insurance in Rwanda’s success

Ranu S. Dhillon;

Interesting blog post on CBHI in Rwanda, by Dhillon, on Oxfam’s Global Health Check blog.


19.    Project Syndicate – Rethinking the Fight against HIV

Bjorn Lomborg;

Lomborg is notorious (and fairly influential) in the climate change debate. So it’s good to know what he suggests for the fight against HIV: “RethinkHIV”, an application of the so called ‘Copenhagen Consensus process’. (For the lovers of cost-effectiveness among us)


The situation for AIDS patients in SSA is increasingly dire. This week, news on Swaziland ‘s AIDS patients’ predicament reached us, as well as a new Global Fund campaign featuring Morgan Freeman & Deepak Chopra, among others. We hope you add your name.


20.    Health Unbound –  WHO releases 2011 Compendium of New and Emerging Health Technologies

The WHO has released a compendium of innovative technologies that may address global health complexities and improve health outcomes in low-resource settings. It presents a snapshot of technologies, either under development or commercialized, that address specific health problems and offer proposed solutions.


21.    PLOS – Assessing and Strengthening African Universities’ Capacity for Doctoral Programmes

Imelda Bates et al.;

Bates & colleagues developed and validated an evidence-based tool for evaluating doctoral programmes in African universities.



Development & Aid


22.    Report by 6 development organisations – Join Up, Scale Up: How integration can defeat disease and poverty

A joint publication by six campaigning organisations from across the development sector, reminds us that the MDGs are in fact interconnected and mutually reinforcing. A much needed call for an integrated approach, in other words.


23.    CGD – MDG Progress Index 2011: The Good (Country Progress), the Bad (Slippage), and the Ugly (Fickle Data)

Ben Leo & Ross Thuote;

This CGD note explains the methodology of the MDG Progress Index and shows some of the trends emerging. Low-income countries’ progress has improved modestly while middle-income progress has shown little change. Also, deficiencies in the data (missing data, revisions, and retractions) continue to make tracking progress on the MDGs difficult and highly sensitive to fickle information.


As for deficient brains, you might want to zoom in on the US presidential campaign. For recent news on the ‘HPV vaccine controversy’, with starring roles for Perry and Bachmann, see the Plos blog and the Guardian.


24.    EC Communication – Proposal for the EU Common position for the 4th high level forum on Aid Effectiveness, Busan

Action for Global Health already commented on this EC Communication on aid effectiveness, in preparation of the Busan High Level forum.


In the Guardian, Jonathan Glennie comments on a new report by ActionAid celebrating the fact that poor countries are relying less and less on aid. “The importance of this latest report is the way it develops a new narrative on the role of aid that will be easy for many parts of the development community to take on board. Critics of aid dependence have tended to lambast aid as harmful. But this report adopts a different tone. Rather than dwell on aid’s shortcomings, it argues that aid spent well can itself contribute to reduced aid dependence, particularly when it supports efforts to mobilise domestic resources.”


Finally, we also noted an interesting World Bank blog post, on the increasing judicialization of development policy.

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