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Dear Colleagues,

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Obviously it’s not an entirely new phenomenon, but every superpower or aspiring superpower seems to have famous political prisoners nowadays: Liu Xiaobo (< ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />China), Mikhail Khodorkovsky (Russia), Bradley Manning (US), …  “Collateral damage” of big power politics and even bigger egos. They are only some of the more well-known names among the legion of political prisoners in the world. Sadly, India also followed suit last week, with the life sentence for Dr. Binayak Sen, a paediatrician from Chattisgarh who worked for the last 30 years or so for the welfare of tribal communities in India. Over time his work went beyond just providing health care to the poor and marginalised, as he became their voice and challenged policies that were at odds with their welfare. He was sentenced by an Indian court on charges of sedition and conspiracy, allegedly passing a letter to a Maoist ideologue prisoner he was treating in jail. A ludicrous claim, worthy of a totalitarian regime. Worse, he was convicted under the very same British law that was used to convict Gandhi at the time.

 

Yet, after a somewhat slow start, international pressure is mounting. Nobel laureates, commentators in journals and civil society organisations are among the many that have voiced their concern. These are some of the advocacy websites dedicated to freeing Dr. Binayak Sen: Free Binayak Sen Campaign @ http://www.binayaksen.net/; Free Binayak Sen @ http://www.freebinayaksen.org/   They also provide background material and updates. You can also sign a

petition.

 

Elsewhere in the world, everybody is gearing up for New Year’s Eve, including the editors of this newsletter.

 

Never one to look back, Nicolas Sarkozy has some characteristically big new year’s resolutions, like radically overhauling the global financial system. Looks like he has to impress his wife again. Others are starting to reflect on the past ten years. CGD fellow and development optimist Charles Kenny reckons this was the best decade ever, but sounds a bit like a politician – apparently there’s a gap between reality and perception. 

 

Nevertheless, happy new year to all of you! See you in 2011!

 

 

Enjoy your reading.

 

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


 

Don’t look back in anger

 

1. Lancet – Offline: Revising our expectations

Richard Horton ;

http://www.lancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(10)62311-2/fulltext

Richard Horton looks ahead to 2011. Being British, his mood is rather gloomy.

 

2. Foreign Policy – Best. Decade. Ever

Charles Kenny;

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/08/16/best_decade_ever?print=yes&hidecomments=yes&page=full

In this (at least for Northern countries) increasingly dark era, the voluntarism of Charles Kenny is nothing less than heartwarming. You might not agree with what he says, but humanity definitely needs more of this, and needs it soon. It can be done, and it should be done. This is the guy’s assessment of the past decade.  

 

Also worthwile reading is Tony Blair’s vision on Africa‘s future, and on how to build strong African leadership (on the CGD website). We all know visions are Tony’s cup of tea, but he might actually have a point here.

 

On the IRIN website, we found this article with an HIV/AIDS top 10 for 2010, and on the Blog4Globalhealth, the following blog post on “12 health solutions we would like to see more of in 2011″.

 

HIV/AIDS

3. Plos Medicine – Scaling Up the 2010 World Health Organization HIV Treatment Guidelines in Resource-Limited Settings: A Model-Based Analysis

Rochelle P. Walensky et al., for the CEPAC-International Investigators

http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000382#abstract2

The new 2010 WHO HIV treatment guidelines recommend earlier antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation (CD4<350 cells/µl instead of CD4<200 cells/µl), multiple sequential ART regimens, and replacement of first-line stavudine with tenofovir. This paper considers what to do first in resource-limited settings where immediate implementation of all of the WHO recommendations is not feasible.

4. HP&P – Claims on health care: a decision-making framework for equity, with application to treatment for HIV/AIDS in South Africa

Susan M Cleary, Gavin H Mooney, Diane E McIntyre;

http://heapol.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2010/12/23/heapol.czq081.full

This paper proposes a conceptual framework for determining how best to allocate scarce health care resources in LICs where resources are typically constrained. The framework is based on communitarian claims. The framework is then applied on treatment or HIV/AIDS in South-Africa.

 

5. Global Public Health – Structural barriers to ART adherence in Southern Africa: Challenges and potential ways forward

A. Kagee; R. H. Remien; A. Berkman; S. Hoffman; L. Campos; L. Swartz;

http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a930402482~frm=titlelink

The authors identify three sets of structural barriers to ART adherence that are salient in Southern Africa: poverty-related, institutional, and political and cultural. They also show how these barriers can be overcome.

6. Globalization and Health – Where does public funding for HIV prevention go to? The case of condoms versus microbicides and vaccines.

Anny JTP Peters , Maja Micevska-Scharf , Francien TM Van Driel  and Willy HM Jansen; 

http://www.globalizationandhealth.com/content/6/1/23

This study analyses the priorities of public donors in funding HIV prevention by either integrated condom programming or HIV preventive microbicides and vaccines in the period between 2000 and 2008. It further compares the public funding investments of the USA government and EU governments, including the EU.

 

Global Health

7.  Global Health Governance – Global Health Governance in a G-20 World

Laurie Garrett & El’Haum Alavian;

http://ghgj.org/Garrett%20Alavian_final.pdf

In the new issue of Global Health Governance, Garrett and Alavian reflect on global health governance in a G20 World.

 

8. Guardian – Diplomacy and development, working together in the US

http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2010/dec/20/us-aid-diplomacy-policy

Two studies on the US government recommend different branches work in tandem along with other donor nations to make aid more effective and efficient. The second and most recently released study, the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development review (QDDR) was led by the state department and USAID to look at how diplomacy and development can work together more effectively.

 

Lots of media, organisations and stakeholders already paid attention to this review, for example the CGD  and the Global health Council.

 

9. Guardian – UK‘s foreign aid strategy puts focus on safe abortion and contraception

Sarah Boseley;

http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2010/dec/31/foreign-aid-safe-abortion-contraception

In two documents, called Frameworks for results, the UK Government commits an extra £2.1bn for maternal and child health schemes and targets halving malaria deaths in 10 hotspots.

 

As for malaria and fragile and conflict-torn states, you might also want to check out this blog post.  Conflict scenarios that inhibit malaria control progress are more common that we often acknowledge. Good to see that the UK government is paying attention.

10.    WHO Bulletin (editorial) – Containing antimicrobial resistance: a renewed effort

Krisantha Weerasuriya, John Stelling & Thomas F O’Brien;

http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/88/12/10-084236.pdf

WHO has announced that the containment of antimicrobial resistance will be the theme for the World Health Day 2011.

11.    WHO Bulletin – Vaccine innovation done differently

Roy Widdus;

http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/88/12/10-082826/en/index.html

Over the past 15 years there has been a change in perceptions of what constitutes vaccine innovation to meet developing country needs. This change could reduce the global burden of infectious diseases and contribute to the ultimate achievement of many of the Millennium Development Goals.

12.    Health and Human rights (editorial) – Collaborative imperatives, elusive dialogues

Alicia Ely Yamin and Alec Irwin;

http://www.hhrjournal.org/index.php/hhr/article/view/364/555

The editorial of the new issue of Health and Human rights takes up the relationship among human rights-based approaches and two other prominent streams of work linking health and social justice: social medicine and social epidemiology.

 

13.    Lancet – Pulse oximeters breathe life into surgery in poorer nations

Tony Kirby;

http://www.lancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(10)62323-9/fulltext

Anaesthetists worldwide have joined forces with safer-surgery advocate Atul Gawande (also known as ‘the guy who addressed the casino audience in Montreux’) to enable low-income nations to buy vital pulse oximeters. Tony Kirby reports.

14.    Lancet (Correspondence) – International response to Niger‘s hunger crisis

Kristalina Georgieva;

http://www.lancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(10)62335-5/fulltext

The EU’s Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response does not agree with Loewenberg’s World Report on Niger‘s hunger crisis. She also says why.

15.    Lancet (Correspondence) – The Greek economic crisis: a primary health-care perspective

Nikolaos Oikonomou, Yannis Tountas;

http://www.lancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(10)62336-7/fulltext

In another Lancet letter, Oikonomou and Tountas look at the Greek economic crisis from a primary health-care perspective.

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