Dear Colleagues,

The MDG+ summit and the Global Fund replenishment are approaching fast … In other words: it’s showtime. Obama announced this week he will address the MDG+ summit, and various opinion pieces already shed light on what needs to be done to get the MDGs back on track, for example Douste-Blazy in the Guardian (on innovative financing), or pieces elsewhere on the American contribution to the Global Fund. The backdrop is of course the dire economic situation in OECD countries and a changing mood among the public. A recent study by IDS showed that the UK public still says development aid is morally right, but needs to be cut nevertheless to deal with the budget deficit. Surveys in other Western-European countries would probably lead to similar results.


UN chief Ban Ki Moon had yet another rough week with a so called ‘damage control’ trip to Rwanda, and an encounter with a tipsy Chinese Foreign Ministry official who made it clear he didn’t like Ban as well as Americans in general. Well, you can’t please everybody.


Finally, we are happy to let you know that Edwin Wouters, a University of Antwerp sociologist who has worked with some of us in the past, has been selected as one of the winners of the Lancet young researchers essay competition. His essay is aptly titled “”No one should walk alone: achieving universal treatment access through community mobilisation”. His 2009 SS&M paper on the importance of community support initiatives in HIV/AIDS care in South-Africa has also been well received, among others recently by the European Society of Health and Medical Sociology. As the Chinese official would put it: “Ganbei !” (cheers!)

Enjoy your reading.

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

Global Health


1. KFF – At U.N. MDG Summit, Ministers Will Propose World Currency Tax To Fund Development Aid

A group of 60 nations, including France, Britain and Japan, will propose at the U.N. MDG+ summit that a tax be introduced on international currency transactions to raise funds for development aid.


2. BMJ (news)  – Reaching the world’s poorest communities is key to achieving MDGs

Peter Moszyinski reports on two brand new UNICEF reports, published ahead of the New York summit, the annual ‘Progress for children’ report, and a related study that proposes a shift in strategy, ‘Narrowing the gaps to meet the goals’. Further progress towards the MDGs requires a clearer focus on the poorest and most marginalised communities.


A Save the Children report also found that the neediest children in many developing countries tend to be overlooked. A focus on the poorest is urgently needed.


3. KFF – Global Fund Investigates Allegations That Donated Malaria Drugs Were Stolen, Resold In Some African Countries

After recent research found that some donated malaria drugs are being stolen and sold commercially in several African countries, the GF is reassessing the situation in a number of countries.


4. KFF – Gates Foundation 2009 Annual Report Released

On Tuesday, the Gates Foundation released its 2009 annual report highlighting some of the foundation’s work over the last year. Eradicating polio is one of the current top priorities. Global health, particularly vaccine research and distribution, will continue to be the focus of the foundation.


5. Lancet – Ethiopia struggles to make its voice heard

Samuel Loewenberg;

The Ethiopian government is finding it difficult to align the priorities of donors with needs on the ground. Samuel Loewenberg reports.


6. Globalization and health (editorial) – The hope and the promise of the UN Resolution on non-communicable diseases

George Alleyne, David Stuckler, Ala Alwan;

Alleyne et al. consider the recent UN resolution on NCDs a platform for the NCD community to mobilize around. They claim the key challenge facing the NCD movement is political and outline strategies for generating global interest as part of a social movement in order to get policymakers committed.


7. CGD – Maternal mortality: we already know what works … or do we?

Nandini Oomman;

Oomman points out that the global focus (too?) often lies on mobilizing resources and making commitments to solve global health challenges in the developing world. It is, she stresses, also important to talk about how to connect that money and policy productively to implementation. We need to take into account the problems “in devising successful strategies to deliver services in a specific developing country context”.


On the Blog 4 Global Health, Arianne Levitus blogs on a recent policy briefing at the Woodrow Wilson international center for scholars, on improving monitoring, transparency and accountability on MCNH.




8. NYT – H.I.V. Prevention Gel Hits Snag: Money

Funding for additional studies on the HIV prevention gel is not going well. Donors have not committed enough money for even one of the two studies needed to confirm a promising South African trial of the microbicide. Only about $58 million of the $100 million needed for follow-up research has been pledged.


Money is also the issue in South-Africa, where the national HIV testing campaign disappoints to some extent. There are also rumours of coercion. Plusnews reports.



9. KFF –Team Of Scientists Issues HIV Vaccine Strategy

On Tuesday, the Council of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise released a new strategy for HIV vaccine research. The strategy “provides a forward-looking framework to speed the development, execution and analysis of HIV vaccine trials; better integrate pre-clinical and clinical research; more effectively capitalize on scientific advances from other fields; and bring new researchers and new funders to the global effort to develop a safe and effective HIV vaccine.”


10.    CGD – Zeroing In: AIDS Donors and Africa‘s Health Workforce

Nandini Oomman, David Wendt & Christina Droggitis;

The Center for Global Development produced a report on the workforce strengthening strategies of three of the major HIV/AIDS donors: PEPFAR, the GF, and MAP. The report sees six tasks for donors, national governments and country stakeholders to reverse the shortages. It is time to go for sustainable and long-term solutions, rather than temporary and project-specific interventions. We provide the CGD brief: “Think Long Term: How Global AIDS Donors Can Strengthen the Health Workforce in Africa“.


Also on the Human resources crisis, AFGH issued a new briefing paper, ‘Health Workers urgently needed to reach health MDGs’, which looks into the causes of the health worker crisis in developing countries and calls on EU leaders to urgently tackle the issue.


Neglected diseases


11.    Plos Neglected Tropical Diseases – Neglected Tropical Disease Control in the “Post-American World”

Peter J. Hotez;

Hotez argues that we cannot expect the US and the UK to shoulder the entire financial burden of global NTD control. The world’s emerging market economies and the nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council must now step up and share this commitment.


12.    Lancet – Introduction of European priority review vouchers to encourage development of new medicines for neglected diseases

David B Ridley, Alfonso Calles Sánchez;

Ridley & Sanchez propose a priority review voucher scheme, a market-driven incentive that would reward a manufacturer that developed a new medicine for neglected diseases with a voucher that could be redeemed for priority review of a future medicine (most likely a potential blockbuster drug).

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