Dear Colleagues,

This week Hillary Clinton held a speech on Obama’s Global Health Initiative in front of faculty and students of the Johns Hopkins School, drawing attention once again to the link between global health and foreign policy. Pakistan – the “slow motion tsunami”, as the flooding disaster is increasingly being called, is an obvious example. We hope that, now that media coverage is finally taking off, the Pakistani predicament will get sufficient funding.


On the other side of the “strategically important” spectrum, are Niger and the Sahel countries, as Samuel Loewenberg rightly points out in the Lancet today. Unlike in Pakistan, aid agencies actually saw the dire situation in Niger coming. But they could not capitalize on the “CNN effect”, as media coverage remained limited. And as one of the iron laws of the media seems to be that there is no room for more than one disaster and relief action at a time, things probably won’t get better soon.

Finally, in news related to the recent African Union Summit, no doubt you remember that African politicians committed themselves to a lot. The African Public Health Alliance and the 15%-plus campaign now released a public statement suggesting six key areas that need to be addressed when heads of states go back to their countries and instruct their staff to implement the commitments.

Enjoy your reading.

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

Global Health

1. Global Health Europe – What does global health have to do with foreign policy? Hillary Clinton: “everything”

David Gleicher ;

Gleicher comments on Clinton’s speech and her rather reassuring answer to the question “what exactly does maternal health or immunizations, or the fight against HIV and AIDS have to do with foreign policy? Everything.” If only.


Elsewhere, Nandini Oomman and Devi Sridhar also gave their view on the speech. Oomman raised the right questions, while Sridhar tried to distill the key messages.


2. Summit Review: 15% Campaign Welcomes Restatement of Financing Commitment-Identifies 6 Key Policy & Budget Priorities

15%plus campaign;

The African Public Health Alliance and the 15%-plus campaign just released a public statement giving a summary of the key commitments made during the African Union summit (including the recommitment to the Abuja declaration). They also suggest six key areas that should be emphasized at country level when the commitments will need to be implemented: social determinants; per capita investment in health; integrated health workforce policies; gender equity; medicines availability; geographical equity.

3. Global Health Europe – Discussion on the future financing of the WHO

Global Health Europe;

Global Health Europe gives some background on the ongoing discussion about the role and future financing of the WHO. In the consultation launched by Chan, 18 strategic questions are grouped under eight main headings: WHO’s core business; health and development; partnerships; WHO country support; technical collaboration; implications for WHO governance; priority setting and communication; and finally, implications for financing. Global Health Europe would like to extend the discussion to stakeholders beyond the WHO member states.



Owen Barder;

Owen Barder discusses last week’s article in the Economist on the use of prizes to promote innovation. He argues that the article should have better explained how incentives work and why the current arrangements are not doing a good job of creating incentives for innovation that benefits developing countries. He compares patents and the Advanced Market Commitment initiative to illustrate his case.


As for the numerous “innovators” among you, we suggest you read this satirical blog post.

5. Blog 4 global health – Researchers working together ?

A blog post on the Blog4Global Health shows the three different views scientists had at the Vienna AIDS conference on equity in the relationship between researchers from developing countries and those from high-income countries.

6. Lancet – Expansion of cancer care and control in countries of low and middle income: a call to action

Paul Farmer et al.; Full Text

Farmer et al. challenge the assumption that cancers will remain untreated in poor countries, and point out the analogy with similar arguments from more than a decade ago against provision of HIV treatment. We hope they will be proven right by 2020.

7. – Mutual accountability – an idea on the brink

Andrew Harmer;

Harmer explores the idea of ‘mutual accountability’ and sees a worrying trend emerging.

8. Plos Neglected Tropical diseases – Interactions between Global Health Initiatives and Country Health Systems: The Case of a Neglected Tropical Diseases Control Program in Mali

Anna Cavalli et al. ;

Some of our colleagues were involved in this research article on the interaction between NTD GHI’s and country health systems, in Mali.

9. Global Public Health – Understanding global health governance as a complex adaptive system

Peter S. Hill;

Peter Hill draws on complexity theory to give us an in-depth analysis of global health. We tend to agree that getting a picture of the global health world is quite difficult and a constantly moving target. Complexity theory is thus probably a suitable tool to describe global health.

10.    Niger‘s hunger crisis: a legacy of lessons unlearned

Samuel Loewenberg ; Full Text

While Pakistan is getting (belatedly) all the global attention these days, there is little chance that Niger will get the required attention to tackle the unprecedented food crisis it faces. Although the situation is worse than in 2005 and the government more willing to cooperate with the international community, the incoming aid does not match the needs so far. Consequently, as time passes by, the needs are increasing. Samuel Loewenberg discusses this vicious circle and tries to assess the reasons and consequences of this limited attention.

11.    Effect of development assistance on domestic health expenditures

As could be predicted, Lu et al.’s article sparks a lot of debate. We include most of the letters and the authors’ reply. See for example here or here.

12.    Assessing Strategy and Equity in the Elimination of Malaria

Shah shows why a malaria elimination strategy could actually end up increasing inequity.

13.    Innovations for Global Health Equity: Beyond Open Access towards Open Data

Emma Veitch;

In a well argued viewpoint, Veitch argues that we need to go beyond open access publication and repositories; data sharing is necessary as well. The WB’s new Open Data Initiative is one model, but plenty of challenges remain.

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