Dear Colleagues,

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The impact of global warming is becoming tangible around the world and consequently the ‘silly season’ is quickly getting an entirely different connotation. Pakistan, China, India, Russia, Niger, … the list of natural disasters hitting mankind this summer is long, and I probably still forget a few hot or wet spots. They seem to forebode the ‘age of disaster’ in which, no doubt, resilience is bound to become a buzzword.


Apparently some rich folks are beginning to pay attention too. In the US and elsewhere, the  Giving Pledge”, an effort by philantrocapitalists Gates and Buffet to invite the wealthiest families and individuals in America to commit to giving a big chunk of their wealth to philanthropy, received plenty of media attention. As expected, not everybody on the Forbes list is keen to participate, but some big shots have already signed the pledge. Gates and Buffet soon also want to get Chinese and Indian billionaires involved. Media outlets across the world covered the story, for example the Financial Times and the Guardian. Predictably, the pledge already sparked a debate. Some columnists pointed out the darker side to the story; the Atlantic Wire gives an overview of some of these (in our opinion, justified) opinions. But hey, if Congress won’t tax American billionaires and companies properly, peer pressure can be considered a “second-best” option. And for sure it’s way better than spending their money on “yachts, chicks and booze”. In the Huffington Post, Stephanie Risa Stein was more enthusiastic about the new initiative. She got kind of carried away and even proposes an ‘Everyman & Everywoman giving pledge’. Well, Americans.


Enjoy your reading.


< ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />David Hercot, Kristof Decoster, Josefien Van Olmen, Basile Keugong & Wim Van Damme

Global Health


1. Health and Human Rights – Taking up Daniels’ challenge: the case for global health justice

Gorik Ooms & Rachel Hammonds;

Our colleagues respond to Norman Daniels’ invitation to develop arguments supporting obligations of mutual assistance at the global level. Ooms & Hammonds argue that there are indeed obligations of global health justice, drawing on international human rights law.


2. –   A UN Agency for Women? Lessons from History

Devi Sridhar;

Debate about the new UN Agency for women continues. Sridhar draws some lessons from the UNAIDS experience.


Elsewhere, Sarah Boseley sees in the reproductive health care situation in Argentina yet another good reason for such a UN Women agency. However, she insists it’s essential to have a transparent selection process of the agency’s leader.


3. Lancet (editorial) – China takes action against tuberculosis and HIV co-infection

The Chinese health sector got some bad and good press this week. As for the good news, the Chinese MoH released a new comprehensive implementation scheme for the prevention and control of TB and HIV co-infection.  And Chinese Vice-president Xi Jinping made some reassuring comments in a  meeting with UNAIDS chief Sidibe.


4. Lancet – Health workers lost to international bodies in poor countries

David Southall, Mamady Cham, Omar Sey;

Southall et al. draw attention to a notorious drain on the number of doctors and nurses in LICs: international organisations, NGOs and research institutions. They illustrate with The Gambia.


5. Lancet (Correspondence ) – Prioritisation of health research

Roderik F Viergever, Zafar Mirza, Robert Terry, Malebona P Matsoso;

The Lancet features a few letters replying to the April 24 Young Voices’ Comment demanding health research goals.



6. Bloomberg Business week  – AIDS drugs flow to the third world


A Bloomberg Business week article says that more and more drugmakers license AIDS drugs at little cost for use in developing countries. In this way, they get favourable press and don’t have to bear distribution costs, the reporters claim.


7. Council on Foreign relations (expert brief) – Messy Politics of Donor Support for HIV

Laurie A. Garrett;

Laurie Garrett wonders why criticism at the Vienna conference focused on the US and the Obama administration. Most of the criticism is dubious, she reckons, especially when comparing with the effort of other countries. And at home, Obama finds himself in a no-win situation, sandwiched between deficit-conscious Republicans and the Democrats’ left wing.

8. CGD (blog) – A refreshingly open debate on the value of universal access to AIDS treatment for US foreign policy

Mead Over;

Mead Over reports on a debate hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on US foreign policy and commitment to universal HIV/AIDS treatment.

9. Globe and Mail – HIV is a 20th-century disease that needs 21st-century research

Alan Bernstein & Peter Piot;

In an opinion piece, Bernstein and Piot say we have entered a promising era in HIV-prevention research. There is a need to invest in prevention research, but they claim smarter research is necessary to build on recent successes. They point to the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise as a promising approach.


10.    Lancet – After CAPRISA 004: time to re-evaluate the HIV lexicon

Willard Cates;

Cates suggests it’s time for a new lexicon to categorise HIV-prevention interventions. Caprisa 004 changes the model for HIV-prevention research.


11.    Lancet (Comment) – Is HAART modifying the HIV epidemic?

Franco Maggiolo & Sebastiano Leone;

Maggiolo and Leone comment on a new epidemiologic analysis in British Columbia, published in the Lancet today. It seems clear that as long as there is no effective vaccine, the population-based dimension of HAART could and should play a vital role in the control of the HIV epidemic.


Other diseases


12.    Lancet – Rotavirus: realising the potential of a promising vaccine

E. Anthony S. Nelson, Roger I Glass;

Nelson and Glass comment on two new studies in the Lancet on the efficacy of Merck’s pentavalent rotavirus vaccine in low-income countries. They wonder whether national decision makers in LICs will now introduce rotavirus vaccines, as WHO recommended in December 2009. For this to happen, it will be essential to reassure governments that they will be able to purchase vaccine at a reasonable price, when support from GAVI ends, they say.


13.    Lancet – Africa is desperate for praziquantel

Peter J. Hotez, Dirk Engels, Alan Fenwick, Lorenzo Savioli;

Hotez et al. argue for wide-scale availability of praziquantel in Sub-Saharan Africa, to tackle schistosomiasis. Currently the global community fails to provide access to this essential medicine.

14.    Lancet – A UN summit on global mental health

Patrick T Lee, Michael Henderson, Vikram Patel;

Finally, a Lancet letter regrets that mental disorders do not feature on the 2011 UN General Assembly (UNGA) special summit on NCDs. Lee et al. say the global unmet need for mental health care deserves urgent action, and therefore call on UNGA to convene a summit on global mental health in 2012.

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