Dear Colleagues,

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These are absolutely fabulous times for newsjunkies. Wikileaks gives the world every day some more insight into what happens behind the scenes.  We still think the term   ‘the 9 / 11 of international diplomacy’ is a bit overdone, but hey, the way it’s going, we could still be proven wrong in the coming weeks. Whether it’s about the fact that some African countries seem opposed to joint Western and Chinese aid, the cable on Shell’s involvement in the Nigerian government, or the story about the Ugandan autocratic president who erodes the Ugandan success story of the nineties, we just can’t get enough of it. Yet, sadly, this is no game.


In the < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />US, the Giving Pledge has attracted some new billionaires, including a rather unlikely “new addition”, Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook. And Gordon Brown has written a book on development, in which his commitment to global justice is obvious, but in which he still ignores the climate challenge.  Some people are saying his aim is the IMF top job, when DSK leaves. As for the climate issue, he promises to write about this challenge in his next book. Wait and see. One could say the same about Cancun, where tonight negotiators will try to come to an agreement on at least some issues. We hope for the best.


In Europe, the “Who’s who” of development circles gathered for the Fifth edition of the European Development Days. More than 15 000 people participated, including 24 heads of state. Paul Kagame in particular was warmly welcomed inside and enthusiastically yelled at outside. Whether this sort of big event will change the “business as usual” aid from the EU, is anybody’s guess.


This week we also started a new discussion on the blog, inspired by a petition and letter by Avaaz India. What is your opinion on the ongoing EU-India Free trade negotiations, which might lead today to an overall agreement in Brussels? Feel free to add your opinion, whether you’re from the EU, India or Africa.


Enjoy your reading.


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


1. FT– Guest column: Long-term strategy must focus on the local

Piot et al ;

Piot et al. say AIDS remains one of the biggest health crises of our age, and will be with us for decades to come. The authors give five recommendations for the future.

2. The Journal of the international AIDS society  – The history of AIDS exceptionalism

Julia H Smith and Alan Whiteside; (

This paper shows how the meaning of AIDS exceptionalism has shifted over the last three decades.

3. NPR – Sidibe on AIDS-crisis after 30 years:

UNAIDS chief Sidibe thinks the battle against AIDS is at a crossroads. He is deeply worried.

Global Health

4. Foreign Policy – Is the WHO Becoming Irrelevant?

Jack C. CHOW;

Jack Chow wonders whether the WHO is becoming irrelevant.

5. KFF – India, EU Trade Agreement Will Not Restrict Ability For India Pharmaceutical Firms To Export Generic Drugs, Official Says

The tension is not only rising in Cancun, but also in Brussels at the EU-India free trade summit. This morning, MSF protesters hoped access to generic medicines for Africans would remain guaranteed in the deal, but they were prepared for the worst. Check out also the Avaaz petition on our blog.

6. Science speaks – Global Fund Round 10: Short on resources for HIV and TB scale-up in sub-Saharan Africa

David Bryden;

Some disappointing news has emerged from the Global Fund Technical Review Panel (TRP). Only 44 percent of the HIV proposals submitted for Round Ten were successful.  TB proposals and the malaria proposals were more successful, 54 and 79 percent respectively. Yet, proposals for scale up for TB from several high burden countries in Africa and Asia were rejected. 

7. Global public health – Understanding change in global health policy: Ideas, discourse and networks

Andrew Harmer;

Harmer applies a neat theoretical framework, drawing on insights from constructivist analysis, to show how discourse made it possible for public and private actors to fundamentally change their way of working together – to shift from international public and private interactions to global health partnerships (GHPs).

8. Financial Times – A prescription for cheaper drugs

The FT dwells on the Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP), and compares with the Advance Market Commitment promoted by Big Pharma. The former might only be appropriate for some vaccines, the authors claim.

9. KFF – Report Examines African Government Funding For Child Development

Tanzania, Mozambique and Niger spend the most on child wellbeing in Africa – with Sudan, Angola and Burundi at the bottom of the table,” according to a report,  launched in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the opening of the Fourth International Policy Conference on the African Child.

10.    Child wellbeing in Africa: the true wealth of nations

The Lancet; Full Text

A Lancet editorial comments on the new African “Report on Child Wellbeing 2011: Budgeting for Children”.

11.    CGD – Global Health is Development: Why USAID Should Lead the GHI

Nandini Oomman;

Nandini Oomman thinks it absolutely makes sense for USAID to lead the Global Health Initiative.

12.    Humanosphere – Why the global poor need a new TB test, and why this one might not be it

WHO just approved a new TB test that will revolutionise the way we perform a TB diagnostic. We do need such new tests but Paulson is right to discuss its cost effectiveness in Low Income Settings.

Non Communicable Diseases

13.    BMJ (news) – Need to increase focus on non-communicable diseases in global health, says WHO

Governments worldwide need to increase the priority given to fighting non-communicable diseases especially in the poorest nations, the World Health Organization says.

Health Affairs dedicated its December issue to ‘Battling chronic diseases worldwide’.

Karen  Grepin already reviewed the new issue on her blog. So, at last, chronic diseases seem be attracting more attention within the Global Health Policy community.

EU aid

14.    Global Health Europe – EU Development Days

The European Development days have become a really big development policy event. You can find some quotes and webcasts here. The level of participants in the event seems to have increased over the years, but the outcomes of the event could be rather limited if you believe this Save The Children participant. In our view, specialised sessions on Global Health or MDGs did not go far enough (both in their analysis and discussions) to bring about any real change. This is perhaps not the place where things are changing. Yet, it could be the right place to see what is about to change. Two examples: in one session, we noticed a really good fighting spirit around issues related to the battle against fake medicines among a wide range of high level panel members. They could show some commitment around the topic in the future. In another session, civil society vehemently criticized the way free trade agreements are being negotiated, and Louis Michel did not like it. It’s good to see an increasingly bold Global South civil society daring “to say aloud what we say quietly” in the words of Thomas Boni Yayi.

At the two day meeting, the second European development report (PDF, 221p, 1,63Mb) was released. Another key document about social protection systems with a special focus on SSA and how EU can best support this idea.

15.    Economist – Exuberant promises to raise aid spending are unlikely to be fulfilled


The Economist examines EU foreign aid. It seems Britain is the exception with its 0.7 % commitment by 2013. EU aid could drop by a fifth, according to some development NGOs.


16.    Canadian aid adrift; A crisis of conscience?

David Black and Molly den Heyer ;

In the new Broker issue, an article zooms in on Canadian aid. Canadian development has been in crisis since the 1990s, it is said. A lack of leadership and policy direction has impelled the development community to generate a series of studies calling for the reform of Canadian aid architecture.

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