Dear Colleagues,

 

Maternal mortality dominated the headlines this week, in the Lancet and in global media. New data are encouraging, for scientists and advocacy groups alike. Yet, the fact that the Lancet editor mentioned having been put under pressure by some members of the global health community to ‘hold’ publication of the data for a while, proves that people sometimes have a different assessment of the sensitivity and potential use of data. Last week, the ‘fungibility of aid flows’ issue was not very different, in that respect. Horton thus rightly says “there needs to be serious reflection among the global health community about how it responds to new data.”

 

But that shouldn’t stop us from advocacy, obviously. In the run-up to G8 and G20 summits, the International Aids society issued a  call to send letters to Governments of G20 and African countries to ensure universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care. 

 

Enjoy your reading.

 

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


Global Health

1. Kaiser health news – Developing Nations: Laboratories For Health Care Innovation

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2010/April/09/GlobalModels.aspx

Kaiser health news examines several health care innovations pioneered in developing countries which were then taken to the U.S. 

 

This week, the Economist also features a special report  on innovation in emerging markets, including on health care innovations. Whether you call it frugal innovation, reverse innovation ( and in some cases even “guerrilla innovation”), it is obvious that innovations from emerging markets are set to change the rich world too.

2. UCSF press release – New global health initiative will help bridge gap between knowledge, action

http://news.ucsf.edu/releases/new-global-health-initiative-will-help-bridge-gap-between-knowledge-action/

The University of California (San Francisco) and SEEK Development, a German consultancy group, launched a new international partnership (E2Pi, or the Evidence-to-Policy Initiative) that aims to improve global health by helping to turn scientific evidence into policy and action. Funding comes from the Gates Foundation.

 

Gates funds plenty of stuff these days, it seems. Elsewhere, the San Diego Tribune has a story on Novartis research on drugs for neglected diseases, like malaria and tb. Again, funding comes from Gates.

 

3. Lancet (online) – Maternal mortality for 181 countries, 1980—2008: a systematic analysis of progress towards Millennium Development Goal 5

 

Margaret C Hogan et al.;

http://www.lancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(10)60518-1/abstract

In the Lancet online, Margaret Hogan et al. provide new data on the maternal mortality trend in the last three decades. Progress has been made towards MDG 5, and more than usually thought.

4. Lancet (Comment) – Maternal mortality: surprise, hope, and urgent action

Richard Horton ;

http://www.lancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(10)60547-8/fulltext

The Lancet editor comments on the new and encouraging maternal mortality data. He draws a few lessons from these data. Here, as well as in a telephone interview with the New York Times, Horton mentioned being put under pressure by some advocacy groups to ‘hold’ publication for a while.

 

5. Global health Blog Karen Grepin – Is maternal mortality declining?

Karen Grepin ; http://karengrepin.blogspot.com/2010/04/is-maternal-mortality-declining.html

On her blog, Karin Grepin comments on the global decline in maternal mortality ratio, as reported in the Lancet. She points out that maternal mortality data are notoriously bad and unreliable for many countries. She also tends to agree with the authors of the report, that the main drivers of the declines have been changes in fertility rates, female education, and incomes. Hence, the question is, she says, to what extent the global health community can take credit for the good news.

6. KFF – Obama Administration Officials Reflect On Details, Implementation Of Global Health Initiative

 

http://globalhealth.kff.org/Daily-Reports/2010/April/14/GH-041410-GHI.aspx

KFF reports on a Forum that took place this week at the Kaiser Family Foundation. Three senior Obama administration officials with global health-related portfolios spoke about the details and implementation of Obama’s Global Health Initiative.

The Foundation also released a policy brief  about the GHI.

 

On the Center for Global Development blog, David Wendt comments, and says the GHI could actually lead the way for broader foreign assistance reform. However, some issues and challenges remain.

 

In the meantime, and more worryingly, the Boston Globe reported on PEPFAR’s enrolment freeze in some facilities in Uganda, and possible links with the GHI.

 

 

7. The Guardian – West on course to break G8 aid pledge, OECD warns

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/apr/14/west-break-g8-aid-pledge-oecd

This week, the OECD released its annual assessment report of development assistance. The Guardian zooms in on a few key conclusions.  For example, the fact that less than half the extra £25bn promised at the Gleneagles summit in 2005 will be delivered on current plans.

8. Lancet – EU implicated in controversial counterfeiting bill

Asher Mullard ; http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(10)60560-0/fulltext

Mullard reports in The Lancet on allegations that the EU provided funds to draft a counterfeiting bill that could make generic drugs illegal in Uganda. The picture is not very clear, but at the very least, the news could be interpreted as hinting that the new Communication on the role of the EU in global health will not end the ongoing trade off between, on the one hand, funding access to medicine initiatives, and on the other hand, prioritising an intellectual property trade agenda over health programmes.

 

Along the same lines, Dyer reports in BMJ news  on the fact that schemes which reward UK GPs for prescribing generics may breach an EU law.

 

Miscellaneous

 

9. World Bank press release: key-note speech Zoellick given at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars,  April 14, 2010

http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/NEWS/0,,contentMDK:22541103~pagePK:34370~piPK:34424~theSitePK:4607,00.html

 

In a speech ahead of the Spring Meetings of the World Bank, the president of the World Bank said the global economic crisis of 2009 and the rise of developing countries in the global economy meant the end of the old concept of the “Third World” as a separate entity (just as 1989 was for the Second World of Communism). This has profound implications for multilateralism, global cooperative action, power relationships, development, and international institutions such as the World Bank Group, and necessitates approaching problems with a new perspective.

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