Dear Colleagues,

The bookmakers probably did not make much money with Gordon Brown’s defeat in the UK elections yesterday. But at least the Scot did not go down without a fight.

Some other people did make heaps of money this week on the global stockmarkets. Who they were, is anybody’s guess. It wasn’t me. Chances are they weren’t Greek either. For the question whether the Euro will collapse or not in the coming months or years, stay tuned. But already some schadenfreude can be detected in the US.

Finally, the Tanzanian authorities were obviously not in the mood for much advocacy this week. At the World Economic Forum in Dar Es Salaam, they detained some AIDS activists after these had handed over a Memorandum to a few prominent speakers. The memorandum outlined the concerns and demands of civil society organizations in response to the rapid backtracking of both donors and national governments on their commitments to funding universal access. Yet another ‘inconvenient truth’, it seems.

Enjoy your reading.

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


Global Health

1. Lancet – Canada’s G8 health leadership

The Lancet ; Full Text

A Lancet editorial points out that a few elements are still missing from Canada’s G8 framework to tackle maternal mortality: Emergency obstetric care and, more controversially, improving access to safe abortion.

2. Lancet – Canada’s G8 health plan receives praise and criticism

Paul C Webster ; Full Text

Webster reports on the G8 meeting of aid ministers in Halifax, Canada, where a strategy was outlined for the G8 summit in June. A new framework with a wide range of evidence-backed interventions to improve maternal health was adopted. The groundwork was thus laid for a new G8 summit initiative on maternal, newborn and under-five child health care. But how the ambitions can be turned into reality, or where the money will come from, has not yet been established.

3. Timeslive – African organizations call on leaders attending World Economic Forum to fund AIDS treatment

Claire Keeton ; http://bit.ly/aWQc0D

The “We are Watching” campaign – launched at the World Economic Forum meeting in Cape Town last year – advocated for universal access to treatment and accountable spending at this week’s WEF meeting in Dar-Es-Salaam in Tanzania. Activists handed over a memorandum entitled “Health is Wealth”, which emphasized the need for increased investment in health and particularly HIV, TB and Malaria in Africa, to two prominent speakers at the WEF.

Tanzanian authorities were not impressed. The activists were arrested immediately after delivering the petition and remained under police supervision until their plane took off…

4. Plos medicine – Negotiating Equitable Access to Influenza Vaccines: Global Health Diplomacy and the Controversies Surrounding Avian Influenza H5N1 and Pandemic Influenza H1N1

David P. Fidler; http://www.plosmedicine.org/

In the series on global health diplomacy, Plos Medicine has an article on the difficult (and so far unsuccessful) negotiations to secure equitable access to influenza vaccines. The authors emphasize that it is more than likely that the global framework for equitable access that WHO and others push for will not materialize in the short term. Interests of developed and developing countries diverge, obviously, but there are other reasons as well.

Global Health Initiatives

5. Newswire – NGOs Call on U.S. to Lead Efforts to Stop HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, Rather Than Impose Funding Caps

Newswire Services; http://www.worldsentinel.com/

NGOs are furious about the promotion of ceilings on the next round of GF disease fight grants by some donor governments. The Board meeting of the Global Fund in Geneva was worrying in many respects. Ceilings would be a major change in policy at the Fund.

6. GFO – Global Fund Board Approves Two Health Systems Funding Platform Projects

http://www.aidspan.org/

The recent board from the GFATM approved two projects on the joint health systems platform with GAVI and the GFATM. One project aims to look at better synergies between existing proposals; the other is to develop a joint procedure for applying for national HSS to GAVI and GFATM or even further funding HSS components of national health plans.

7. Huffington Post -Mothers Have Delivered for Us — Now Let’s Deliver for Them

Mark Dybul; Huffington Post

The Huffington Post has a timely opinion piece on the vital role healthy mothers play in this world. Mark Dybul stresses mothers are the entry point to deliver on the MDGs. He is one of many to plead for the transformation of the Global Fund to a Global Fund for the health-related MDGs.

Drugs

8. Reuters – WHO, UNICEF call for closing gap in child medicines

http://www.reuters.com/

This week UNICEF and WHO published a list of medicines designed for children and said it exposed dangerous shortfalls. The children’s medicine guide will be available online and will help doctors and health workers get better access to about 240 basic medicines that can save children’s lives by giving information on where to find them and how much they cost.

9. Lancet – Tide turns for drug manufacturing in Africa

Tatum Anderson; Full Text

There is currently a lot of activity aimed at increasing local production of drugs in developing countries. Tatum Anderson zeroes in on the Quality Chemicals plant, a drugs producer in Uganda, the first in a least developed country to get a world-class seal of quality for its manufacturing standards. A milestone, no doubt about that. But what are the pros and cons of manufacturing medicines in Africa?

Miscellaneous

10. Lancet – Malaria elimination in Asia–Pacific: an under-told story

Michelle S Hsiang, Rabindra Abeyasinghe, Maxine Whittaker, Richard GA Feachem ; Full Text

A Comment in the Lancet makes the case that the story of malaria elimination from Asia-Pacific has not been covered enough, in spite of obvious success stories in many countries in the region. Perhaps language or cultural barriers can explain this undercoverage. The article zooms in on the role of the Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (APMEN).

Encouraging news, and this also goes for Africa, as the recent Roll Back Malaria ‘Africa Update’ report (PDF, 3.6 MB), released on World Malaria Day, stressed. In a number of countries, quite spectacular results have been achieved lately. Increased resources and political commitment are paying off. Yet, the question will be, as always, how this financial and political commitment can be sustained.

11. Lancet – HIV is the biggest killer of women—but is it?

Adrienne Germain, Ruth Dixon-Mueller ; Full Text

Germain and Dixon-Mueller are not particularly fond of the sentence “Globally, HIV is the leading cause of death and disease in women of reproductive age”, that originated in a 2009 WHO report, and made headlines in the press. They think the statement is misleading and this for two reasons. They also suggest an alternative.

12. Lancet – Family medicine’s commitment to the MDGs

Jan De Maeseneer, Chris van Weel, Richard Roberts ; Full Text

De Maeseneer et al. elaborate on how family medicine can contribute to the MDGs, and the role Wonca, the World Organization of Family Doctors, wants to play in this. The Cancun conference, scheduled for later this month, will be a turning point.


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