Dear Colleagues,

According to a number of philosophers, global justice is the most important philosophical issue of the 21st century. We couldn’t agree more, especially after attending the Action for Global Health conference in Brussels, where everybody seemed to agree on the fact that health is a human right. Now we still have to convince the others.

Enjoy your reading.

David Hercot, Kristof Decoster, Josefien Van Olmen, Wim Van Damme, Miti Katabaro, Yibeltal Assefa, Juliet Nabyonga and Peter S. Hill

Global Health Initiatives

1. JPHP – The New Dichotomy in Health Systems Strengthening and the Role of Global Health Initiatives: What Can We Learn from Ethiopia?

Gorik Ooms, David Hercot, Yibeltal Assefa, Wim Van Damme in Bettina Borisch’s Editorial;

The World Federation of Public Health Association (WFPHA) invited us to introduce in their pages the session we are organizing at the Geneva Health Forum on the Health Workforce Crisis in Africa and the role Global Health Initiatives (GHIs) should play. In these Pages, members of our unit more specifically highlight the two approaches to health workforce strengthening in low-income countries, and the possible role GHIs can play. Lessons are drawn from the Ethiopian experience. 


The World Bank MAP embodies the second approach, the ‘Marginal Budgeting for Bottlenecks’ approach. On the center for global development blog  an evaluation of the MAP Community initiatives component that is underway, is being examined.

2. Lancet – GAVI enters its second decade with massive funding gap

Ann Danaiya Usher ;

GAVI faces a severe funding shortfall for the next decade that could hamper the roll-out of pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines. It’s not clear where the money will come from at this stage.

3. G&H – National and subnational HIV/AIDS coordination: are global health initiatives closing the gap between intent and practice?

Neil Spicer, Julia Aleshkina, Regien Biesma, Ruairi Brugha, Carlos Caceres, Baltazar Chilundo, Ketevan Chkhatarashvili, Andrew Harmer, Pierre Miege, Gulgun Murzalieva, Phillimon Ndubani, Natia Rukhadze, Tetyana Semigina, Aisling Walsh, Gill Walt  and Xiulan Zhang ;

This article in Globalization and Health tries to provide a synthesis of the effects of GHIs on national and subnational health systems across multiple countries. Primary data from seven country studies are being reviewed on the effects of three GHIs on coordination of HIV/AIDS programmes. The picture is mixed.

Global Health

4. PNTD – The Global Health Crisis and Our Nation’s Research Universities

Sandeep P. Kishore, Gloria Tavera, Peter J. Hotez ;

Plos Neglected Tropical Diseases features an editorial that calls for a new focus on research for neglected tropical diseases. American universities should provide some leadership on this issue.


5. Plos – Drivers of Inequality in Millennium Development Goal Progress: A Statistical Analysis

David Stuckler, Sanjay Basu, Martin McKee ;

In an article in Plos Medicine, Stuckler et al. examined whether differential progress towards health MDGs was associated with economic development, public health funding, or health system infrastructure. They also examined the impact of joint epidemics of HIV/AIDS and noncommunicable diseases, which may limit the ability of households to address child mortality and increase risks of infectious diseases. On the whole, the epidemics seem to have a bigger impact than traditional explanations (like economic under-development, low priority of health, inadequate spending by governments, and weak health infrastructure). 

6. Action for Global Health conference (EP, Brussels)

Action for Global Health ;

On March 2nd, Action for Global Health’s (AfGH) conference, ‘Delivering the Right to Health with the Millennium Development Goals’ was held at the European Parliament in Brussels. Representatives from the Spanish, Belgian and Hungarian EU presidencies all stressed the need for coherent tackling of the health MDGs. Coherence and harmonization are essential.

Aid effectiveness

7. NYT – Learning From the Sin of Sodom

Nicholas D. Kristof ;

NYT columnist Kristof points out the merits of faith-based aid organisations and Evangelicals in global health issues and programs. World Vision is a case in point, he stresses.  Owen is less enthusiastic about these faith-based aid organisations.


8. Lancet – Increasing HIV prevention and care for injecting drug users

Don C Des Jarlais, Kamyar Arasteh, Marya Gwadz ;

The authors of this viewpoint comment on the article by Mathers et al. in the Lancet that tries to document the coverage for HIV prevention and care for injecting drug users (IDUs). Coverage varies greatly and is plainly inadequate in a big part of the world. The authors of the Comment suggest there is a need for “effective interventions to change the behaviour of policy makers to make policies and programmes consistent with the evidence base for HIV prevention and care for IDUs.”

9. KFF – UNAIDS Launches Plan To Address Gender Equality, HIV/AIDS

Earlier this week, UNAIDS launched a five-year initiative to help tackle gender inequalities and human rights violations that increase the vulnerability of women worldwide to HIV/AIDS, the “Agenda for accelerated country action for women, girls, gender equality and HIV”.


In related news, a Lancet editorial dwelled on International Women’s Day 2010, that celebrates its centenary this year on March 8th.  “This will be an occasion to look back on past accomplishments and, more importantly, to look ahead to the potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.    … MDG 3—to work towards gender equality and women’s empowerment—is central, as well as MDG 5. Although funding for maternal health is increasing gradually, a doubling of donor aid for maternal health is needed, as well as for reproductive health, especially family planning.”

Emerging Voices

10.    Lancet – Calling young researchers

Udani Samarasekera, Susan Jupp ;

This year, The Lancet and the Global Forum for Health Research are teaming up with the First Global Symposium on Health Systems Research ( that will take place in Montreux, Switzerland, Nov 16—19) to launch an essay competition for young researchers. The theme of the competition is “health-systems research: towards universal health coverage”. Essays should cover areas like the political economy of universal coverage, health system financing, scale-up of health services or knowledge translation.

11.    Translating knowledge into policy and action to promote health equity: The Health Equity Fund policy process in Cambodia 2000–2008

Por Ir, Maryam Bigdeli, Bruno Meessen and Wim Van Damme


Our colleagues examine how knowledge has been used to inform policy on Health Equity Funds in Cambodia. They also draw lessons for translating knowledge into health policies.

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