Dear Colleagues,

In the UK, ‘the great Dave & Nick show’ has started, less than a week after the elections. An ultra-rapid formation of a coalition government, by Belgian standards. Owen already has a blog post on the new UK government’s development minister (a Tory) and policy.

In the US, a NYT series of 4 articles zoomed in on the faltering global fight against HIV/AIDS. In this week’s newsletter, we pay attention to the debate that has ensued.

And there are new global health data as well this week, not just the World Health Statistics 2010 (which showed that globally about 40 % of deaths in children under five occur in the first month of life), but also a new Lancet study pointing out that infectious diseases still account for two-thirds of the almost 9 million deaths (in 2008) among children under 5 in the world.

Enjoy your reading.

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


1. NYT – At front lines, AIDS war is falling apart

In less than a week, this NYT article has already sparked a whole debate. It was part of a series of 4 articles in the influential newspaper. One of them zoomed in on the difficult fundraising situation.

2. CGD – the AIDS war may not be falling apart, but is falling behind

Mead Over;

Mead Over does not agree with the gist of the NYT article, although he admits many good points are being made in the article. Yet, he pleads for a shift to achieve an “AIDS Transition”: “invest massively in prevention to reduce the number of new infections, so that, eventually, we will be able to attain high levels of treatment coverage and have a declining number of people who are infected with HIV.”

He also refers to a frank discussion between Easterly and Gregg Gonsalves who comment on the same NYT series. Elsewhere, Ruth Messinger also shares her thoughts on the same NYT article. She takes issue with the cost-effective ‘bigger bang for our buck’ approach, and pleads for a human rights approach that values every human life equally.

US foreign aid

3. Blog 4 Global Health – Presidential Study Directive-7: Good start but more work needed

The Blog 4 Global Health comments on the leaked draft of the new US development policy. It appears development is indeed becoming a key pillar of foreign policy.

Laurie Garrett probably nods in agreement. She dwells on the budget for foreign aid.

4. Plos Medicine – New Complexities and Approaches to Global Health. Diplomacy: View from the U.S. Department of State

Kerri-Ann Jones;

Kerri-Ann Jones dwells on global health diplomacy, seen from the perspective of the US State Department.

Maternal mortality and the G8 summit

5. Toronto Sun (opinion) – G8 maternal health campaign slow to take off

The Toronto Sun points out that by now, Harper’s initiative for maternal and child health care, should have been well framed and financed. It isn’t.

Encouragingly, two African countries (Ethiopia and Malawi) have been invited to the G20 talks that will take place next month in Toronto. Also, Ban Ki Moon has made a few diplomatic statements ahead of his own meeting with Harper.

But the debate on whether or not access to safe abortion should be included in the package remains fierce. We include the two positions, pro and contra, in the Globe and Mail and the National Post respectively.

In the meantime, and less controversially, the World Bank adopted its Reproductive Health action plan 2010-2015, a blueprint for its reproductive health work.

Performance based financing

6. CGD – HIV/AIDS Monitor: Are Funding Decisions Based on Performance?

David Wendt;

On the Center for Global Development blog, a new report was released, examining the use of performance-based funding (PBF) among the big three funders of HIV/AIDS programs in developing countries: PEPFAR, the Global Fund, and the World Bank’s MAP. All three have room for improvement.

The same blog also features a discussion on the challenges and opportunities for PBF, as seen by global AIDS donors.

Global Health

7. AFGH – Council conclusions on the EU role in Global Health

Earlier this week, the Council adopted some conclusions on the Commission Communication on the EU role in Global health.

8. Plos Medicine – Can Foreign policy make a difference to health?

Sigrun Møgedal, Benedikte L. Alveberg;

In the series on Global Health Diplomacy, Møgedal and Alveberg give an international and UN perspective on the question whether foreign policy can make a difference to health. More specifically, they elaborate on the Foreign Policy and Global Health initiative, started in 2006-2007.

9. Lancet – International recruitment of health personnel

Allyn L. Taylor, Lawrence O. Gostin;

In a Lancet Comment, the authors look ahead to the World Health Assembly. A draft global code of practice on the international recruitment of health personnel will be on the agenda. Taylor & Gostin think that the adoption of the draft code could be a firm step towards strengthening international cooperation and ensuring the viability of health systems worldwide, in spite of being legally non-binding.

Our “special” Fox News reporter, fair and balanced as always, is less enthusiastic about other agenda points at the World Health Assembly, in his piece ‘World Health Organization moving ahead on billions in internet and other taxes’.

10. Lancet (Letters) – GAVI’s funding challenge – the Health Impact Fund – Call for action to secure universal access to ART in developing countries

This week, the Lancet features several interesting letters, among others on GAVI’s funding challenge, the Health Impact Fund, as well as a call for action to secure universal access to ART in developing countries.

In a news article, BMJ also pays some attention to the vaccination crisis, as reported in a new report by MSF and Oxfam international.

11. BMJ – Making it local

Karen McColl;

Mc Coll weighs the evidence on the current African drive to build a strong domestic pharmaceutical sector. Will this ambition also improve desperately needed local access to drugs?

12. Reuters – India, Brazil challenge EU at WTO over drugs

On Wednesday, India and Brazil launched a trade dispute against the EU and the Netherlands, saying seizures of generic drugs were hurting healthcare in poor countries and disrupting international trade. Naturally, EU officials say they are just seizing drugs to identify counterfeit drugs.

Other diseases in developing countries

13. Guardian – Mental illness and the developing world.

Andrew Chambers;

Mental and neurological disorders are the leading cause of illness, but international development pays not much attention to them.

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