Dear Colleagues,

Sadly, the world cup football is coming to a close. Without our daily dose of football, summer evenings just won’t be the same anymore. There’s still the final though, scheduled for Sunday. Our Dutch colleagues will object, but we definitely want Iniesta and co to win this tournament. The Dutch probably deserved it in the past, but not now. They might still prove us all wrong in the final, however.

Four years ago, Kofi Annan already wondered why people do not care as much about MDGs as they do about the so called ‘beautiful game’. If only we knew. Kate Darlington still wonders, but doesn’t think the UN should envy the world cup.

And there’s more than football this month. Some of us will participate in the International AIDS Conference in < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Vienna, slated for July 18-22, and the pre-conference “Bridging the Divide: Inter-Disciplinary Partnerships for HIV and Health Systems Strengthening”, also in Vienna, on 16-17 July. You can meet ITM staff at the ITM booth (E-432) during the international conference. We hope to catch up with some of you there. On Wednesday 21 July, between 5 and 7 pm, an open session will be organized by colleagues of the ITM Public Health Department on the Department’s involvement in HIV/AIDS-related research and training.

Enjoy your reading.

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

Global health

1. Global Health Europe – The G8 and global health: getting hip with the times

David Gleicher ; Global Health Europe’s blog

Gleicher wants the G8 to make health an issue of social justice. “A social justice approach to global health could move our actions from coping with, to stemming the challenges where they originate.”

2. NYT – India Expands Role as Drug Producer

A few days ago, this New York Times article zeroed in on India’s booming drug industry. The industry is taking on a more mainstream role now in the global pharmaceutical industry. Several factors can explain this trend, like a strengthening of patent law in India and cost pressures on drug manufacturers in the West. Yet, challenges remain, like intellectual property and quality and safety issues.

3. Progress in Rwanda‘s drive to slow population growth

Nick Wadhams ; Full Text

Nick Wadhams reports on the clever decision by the Rwanda government to put slowing the country’s population growth rate at the centre of its Vision 2020 plan. How is the situation on the ground now, halfway into the implementation, and could the Rwanda case be a template for others in the region?

4. Health Affairs – Finding Affordable Health Workforce Targets In Low-Income Nations

Thomas J. Bossert and Tomoko Ono;

Bossert and Ono criticize the WHO minimum HR target, put forward by the institution to raise the awareness of the global HR crisis. They suggest another way of assessing needs starting from the financial constraints of a given country.

AIDS financing

5. Reuters interview with WHO HIV/AIDS chief: need for efficiency

In the run-up to the AIDS conference, Reuters interviewed Gottfried Hirnschall, the new director of HIV/AIDS at WHO. His key message was: better use of current funds is needed. He sketches a number of ways to do that.

6. United States global health policy: HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, and The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)

Sarah C. Leeper, and Anand Reddi; Abstract or PDF

Leeper and Reddi attack the Obama Administration plan to shift resources to maternal and child health at the expense of HIV/AIDS treatment scale-up. They argue that such a shift would actually undermine the health of women and children around the globe, instead of improving it.

7. Foreign Affairs – No good deed goes unpunished

Princeton N. Lyman and Stephen B. Wittels;

In this Foreign Affairs article, Lyman & Wittels claim that the US commitment to helping treat HIV patients is actually limiting American leverage over recipient countries as well as undermining other development goals. An interesting viewpoint, to say the least, given the mainstream idea in health diplomacy that more aid routinely implies more leverage (through more “soft power”).

Mead Over comments on this FA article in a blog post. He agrees with a number of points made in the article, but differs in two respects.

Aid effectiveness

8. BMJ (news) – Glut of aid agencies is hindering efforts to reduce poverty and poor health

Zarocostas J.;

A new UN report says that the proliferation of aid agencies, donors, and projects is fragmenting the global aid system, increasing transaction costs, and weakening efforts to reduce poverty and poor health. The report also recommends that in the future all aid donations should be disbursed through general budget support.

9. ODI (blog) – General budget support and the Millennium Development Goals

Heidi Tavakoli;

This blog post refers to a recent paper from Beynon et al. on ‘Budget Support and MDG performance’, and says it’s a welcome start of a much needed research agenda.

10. Owen (blog post) – Trillions of dollars of aid ?

Owen Barder;

Owen tears apart the claim of the aid sceptics on ‘trillions of dollars’ supposedly spent on aid to Africa since independence. He makes the same case in a recent article, “An Open Letter to Aid Skeptics”, in which he also forcefully argues for cash on delivery, as this method could please both aid sceptics and aid enthusiasts. You can find the letter in the latest edition of the Center for International Relations Forum journal (pdf, 17 MB (!)) or as a separate document here (PDF 142Kb)

11. Global Health Europe – What’s Next for G20 in Global Health and Development?: Chatham House

Graham Lister; Global Health Europe’s blog

Graham Lister reports on a Chatham House meeting that reflected on the future role of G8 and G20 in global development and health. It turned out to be a sobering exercise. “G8 will remain an important focus for the global health and development agenda. G20 is unlikely to address human rights, health is unlikely to be central to its agenda, …”

Health research

12. Health Research Policy and Systems – What can global health institutions do to help strengthen health systems in low income countries ?

Dina Balabanova, Martin McKee, Anne Mills, Gill Walt, Andy Haines; Abstract or Draft PDF ahead of print (64Kb).

This recent paper provides some detail on how health systems support to recipient countries should be implemented. Five key actions are put forward.

13. Improving Implementation: Building Research Capacity in Maternal, Neonatal, and Child Health in Africa

James Whitworth, Nelson K. Sewankambo, Valerie A. Snewin;

As part of a series on maternal, neonatal, and child health in sub-Saharan Africa, Whitworth and colleagues discuss the implementation gap and suggest research capacity in Africa should be strengthened.

14. Measuring impact in the Millennium Development Goal era and beyond: a new approach to large-scale effectiveness evaluations

Cesar G Victora, Robert E Black, J Ties Boerma, Jennifer Bryce;

Victora et al. argue that the old way of assessing multiple interventions programmes does not work anymore. You can no longer compare an intervention area with a non intervention area as many programmes are simultaneously being scaled up in pretty much every district in the world. This is stating the obvious, so to speak. They propose a new way of doing evaluation, a national platform approach. The approach was already tested in Mozambique, but should be tested in more settings now.

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