Dear Colleagues,

Impeccable timing for the European Commission this week. The long awaited Communication on the EU Role in Global Health was at last made public on the EC website, a few days before the Easter holiday. As if the Commission wanted to make a statement.

Elsewhere in the world, at the UN donor conference on Haiti in New York, the global community also showed some generosity. It remains to be seen whether the financial commitments for Haiti will not jeopardize health MDG related funding in this crucial year.


Finally, a combative Hillary Clinton, who co-chaired the conference, also found some time this week to put pressure on the Canadian prime minister. She made it clear that she considers family planning, contraception and access to legal, safe abortions vital elements of maternal health care.

Enjoy your reading.

David Hercot, Kristof Decoster, Josefien Van Olmen and Wim Van Damme

Global Health

1. EC – Commission calls on EU to gear up on health actions

EC press release

The EC sticked to the timing it had in mind for the Communication on the EU Role in Global Health. The Communication has just been released  here (PDF 11p 54,9 Kb), along with the three accompanying staff working papers (all PDFs) : Contributing to universal coverage of health services through development policy; Global health: responding to the challenges of globalization; European research and knowledge for global health.

2. The Guardian – WHO accused of losing public confidence over flu pandemic

Sarah Boseley ;

The Guardian reports on an investigation by Flynn commissioned by the Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly. The assembly is holding an inquiry into the handling by European bodies and governments of the flu pandemic. In its conclusion the draft report states that the overreaction of WHO might have endangered public confidence in the organisation for future outbreaks. Also, the independency of WHO experts who are also funded by private pharmaceutical companies should be analysed further. The WHO is taking this criticism seriously and has launched an external review on its response to the flu crisis.

3. KFF – Family Planning, Access To Safe, Legal Abortion Key To Maternal, Child Health, U.S. Sec. Of State Says

The Canadian government recently claimed the driving seat for reducing maternal mortality but did not seem to be willing to consider abortion as being part of this effort. Now it is being challenged by Hillary Clinton and British foreign secretary David Miliband who are both openly stating that abortion and contraception should be part of maternal health care. Nandini Oomman muses on Twitter that Clinton will first have her work cut out in her own country. For now, not a penny from the US federal budget is going to abortion programmes.

4. Lancet – Education of health professionals for the 21st century: a global independent Commission

Zulfiqar A Bhutta et al. :

Yet another commission has been launched, called the “Commission on Education of Health Professionals for the 21st Century”. It will focus on the requirement for health professionals’ training in this century. This global initiative is funded by the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations but also by the China Medical Board and The Lancet.

5. BMJ (news) – Religious leaders call for an end to discrimination against people living with AIDS

Tony Sheldon ;

BMJ reports on a high level meeting of 40 religious leaders from Buddhist, Christian (Protestant and Roman Catholic), Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Baha’í, and Sikhmany religions held recently in Utrecht (The Netherlands), with the participation of UNAIDS and AIDS activists. The participants pledged that they would fight discrimination against HIV+ people, often fuelled by religious leaders in the past. We find it regrettable that this important progress has only been covered by BMJ (which is a very medical journal). This should be shouted from the roof tops…

Global Health Initiatives

6. GFO – Time to Re-Visit the CCM Minimum Requirements

David Garmaise ;

This issue of the Global Fund Observer discusses the proposals that have been submitted in the GF round 9 but were rejected before being submitted to the TERG. In this article, Garmaise discusses the problems and suggests some improvements in the requirements for CCMs.

Health Financing

7. Lancet Infectious disease – Funding for research and development and the financial crisis

Mary Moran ;

Moran discusses the influence of the financial crisis on financing for research and development in the field of neglected tropical diseases, a research area which received USD2.98 billion in 2008. She argues that as Official Development Aid is shrinking, research and development is the first sector affected. Luckily, we also observe increased funding from the private sector and emerging countries like Brazil. Gates funds 21% of the research in this field.

8. Innovative Financing for Global Health : A Moment for Expanded U.S. Engagement?

A Report of the CSIS Global Health Policy Center

Earlier this month, the CSIS Global Health Policy Center produced a report on innovative financing for health. The report argues for more US engagement in this area and shows how the Obama administration can do so. PDF is available here (729 Kb).

Aid Effectiveness

9. IRIN – Recession boosts donor transparency

The UN website IRIN featured this article on increasing aid transparency and accountability among donors. The trend is linked to the global financial downturn.  The issue of transparency is now much higher on the agenda than before.  There are still challenges though.

American Health Care reform

10.    BMJ – Obama’s reform: no cure for what ails us

In a BMJ analysis, Himmelstein and Woolhandler express dissatisfaction with the way Obama health care reform turned out. They reckon the new law will make matters even worse, as it builds on the current (flawed) market driven system. 

A Lancet editorial is less pessimistic and considers the bill a step in the right direction. Success will depend on acceptance by the public, the editorial says. “Americans, unlike most Europeans, believe that a basic human right is the freedom to choose, whereas to have health coverage is a reward that should be earned (through work). The Obama administration still needs to convince its citizens that health coverage is a human right and not a privilege.”

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