Dear Colleagues,

The Lancet just released a report online from Lu et al. on government spending on health in developing countries and the impact of factors like development aid for health, HIV prevalence, debt relief and others. Development assistance for health (DAH) is shown to have had a negative effect on domestic government spending on health, while DAH to the non-governmental sector apparently had a positive effect. In a related viewpoint, our colleagues Ooms et al. point to the complexity of relations between international health aid and government health funding and describe some ways in which governments respond to increased development aid for health. They plead for more transparency and a Global fund for Health to ensure predictable financing. Finally, an incisive Comment by Sridhar and Woods underlines the limits of the available global data related to Development aid for Health and warns for drawing hasty conclusions. Let the debate begin.

Enjoy your reading.

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

Global Health

1. Eldis – Global public action needs to tackle global health policies

Meri Koivusalo; Maureen Mackintosh ; 

The Eldis website features this paper (from the Open University, UK) on global public action in the context of global health policies. Public action on pharmaceuticals has influenced global health as well as the institutional basis of global health governance.  “The authors ask two key questions. First, they consider how the emphasis on different interests across countries can divert attention away from conflicts of interest between commercial and public sectors. Second, they ask what kinds of health and pharmaceutical policies should be promoted, and how these relate to institutional structures and policy priorities in the health sector at both national and global levels.

2. WHO Bulletin : Urbanisation and Health

This year’s World Health Day campaign “1000 cities, 1000 lives” focused on urban health in a context of increasing urbanization. The campaign called upon cities to open up public spaces for health activities during this week. Many cities scheduled activities such as closing off portions of streets to motorized traffic, town hall meetings with mayors, clean up-campaigns and events that promote social solidarity. The aim was to encourage debate between city leaders and their citizens to take action to improve policies, attitudes and behavior related to the more negative aspects associated with urbanization that impact health.

3. Unsafe Abortion: The Hidden Failure of MDG 5

Dee Redwine and Mary Jane Wagle ;

In the run-up to the Maternal and Child Health Initiative (to be unveiled by the Candadian government at the G8 meeting in June), Dee Redwine and Mary Jane Wagle of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America make a passionate case for addressing the epidemic of unsafe abortions in order to achieve MDG 5.

4. KFF – Toronto Star Examines Cost Of Fighting Maternal Mortality, Canada’s G8 Initiative

This week, the Toronto Star wrote about the G8 maternal and child health initiative and quoted experts saying that fighting maternal mortality would cost the world a total of $24 billion annually, or an additional $12 billion per year.

5. BMJ (news) – WHO is accused of "crying wolf" over swine flu pandemic

Rory Watson ;

Three separate international inquiries will investigate the WHO decision to declare the H1N1 virus a pandemic: one conducted by the Council of Europe, one originating in the European Parliament, and finally, an inquiry by WHO itself ( but relying on independent experts).

Various opinion articles, among others in the New York Times and the Guardian, also assessed the WHO response this week. In the meantime, Ghana still vaccinates its children with support from WHO. Bizarre, with all this talk of a ‘fake pandemic’…

6. AFGH – 2010 Reality Check – AFGH annual policy report

On World Health Day 2010, a new report (“2010 Reality Check: Time is running out to meet the MDGs”) from Action for Global Health urged EU leaders to commit 0.1% of GNI to ensure universal access to healthcare for people in developing countries. EU leaders need to focus on three issues.

Global Health Initiatives

7. Lancet – What would Jim Grant say now?

Carl E Taylor ;

Carl Taylor (about whom the Lancet features an obituary this week) was one of the people behind the Alma Ata Declaration. He wrote this Comment on Jim Grant and how he would assess the child survival and development revolution he championed in the early 1980s, if he were still alive. The two men had their disagreements, but it is obvious there was mutual respect.

8. CGD – Do PEPFAR, the Global Fund and the World Bank MAP Make Funding Decisions Against Performance? And Why This Matters NOW!

Nandini Oomman ;

Oomman makes the case for increased transparency in the way funding decisions are taken by the three agencies. She also argues that funding should be increasingly based on performance indicators rather than on financial or operational indicators.

9. NewVision – Uganda Government Recovers Stolen Global Fund Money

Anne Mugisa; New Vision/

The news site New Vision/ reports that the Ugandan government has recovered $1.1 million of the $1.5 million misappropriated from the Global Fund. The scam was revealed by PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2005 and led to the suspension of the fund by the donors.


10.    Business Daily – Anti-counterfeit laws to limit access to ARVs

Michael Wambi;

East African countries might not attain MDG 6 if the region’s parliament adopts the anti-counterfeit policy and bill currently under consideration. Civil society representatives, government officials and intellectual property experts all warn that the proposed policy and bill, if adopted, would block the production and importation of generic medicines used by healthcare services to treat diseases.

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