It’s kind of ironic that on the very day that the American House voted to give the Obama administration more authority to impose tariffs on Chinese imports, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet invited Chinese billionaires to a  banquet in Beijing, to find out whether they could start something similar to the ‘Giving pledge’ in China.  Both gentlemen normally have better timing. Admittedly, Bill and Warren had come ‘to listen’. Not sure they’re good at that, but in any case, it was a humble message that sounded  pretty much like World Bank president Robert Zoellick these days. And they seem to have had some success, although David Rothkopf rightly points out in Foreign Policy that real philantrophy would look slightly different, both in the < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />US and in China.

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Enough about the rich and famous. In a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, plenty of Americans seem to have negative views of “foreign aid” in general, these days, but surprise, surprise, they tend to be more supportive of such efforts when described more specifically as “improving health in developing countries”. So there might be something to ‘health exceptionality’, after all.  The new Dutch government seems to share this negative view on aid. It has announced it will try to cut development aid by 1 billion. No surprises there, the disgusting body language of the three shockingly cheerful right-wing protagonists (yeah, count CD-A in) yesterday on TV was evidence enough of a change of guard in the Netherlands.


Finally, South-America is in the news these days. For good reasons – Bresil’s upcoming presidential elections – and for the wrong ones. The current turmoil in Ecuador is just sad. We hope Correa’s ‘buen vivir’ policy won’t be cut short. Our colleague Jean-Pierre Unger, who is about to release a new book on international health and aid policies, would probably agree.


Enjoy your reading.


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

Global Health


1. Jean-Pierre Unger et al. – International Health and Aid Policies. The need for alternatives (press release)

Jean-Pierre Unger and some other colleagues of ours just published a book on international health and aid policies. We provide the English press release.

2. WHO Bulletin – National and global responsibilities for health

Gostin et al.;

An editorial in WHO Bulletin deals with national and global responsibilities for health. The authors are currently establishing the Joint Learning Initiative on National and Global Responsibilities for Health, together with others, “to articulate an overarching, coherent framework for sharing the responsibility for health that goes further than the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.” 

3. WHO Bulletin – Implications of the Adelaide Statement on Health in All Policies

Rüdiger Krech, Nicole B Valentine, Lina Tucker Reinders & Daniel Albrecht ;

Krech et al. come back on the Adelaide Statement on Health in All Policies of earlier this year, and do some suggestions on how to proceed from there. In their view, the statement is a stepping stone that shows the way forward for improving accountability and the effectiveness of government.


Owen Barder dissects the three emerging development narratives, and wonders whether they are compatible. Is a synthesis possible? 

5. Sarah Boseley – Bill and Melinda look on the bright side

Bill and Melinda Gates believe there have been too many negative stories written about global development. Instead the real benefits they believe aid is bringing about, should be emphasized. Take a look at the comments below the blogpost. They are also worth reading.


David Rieff didn’t get the message. Check out his piece in the New Republic.


Even the Guardian ‘poverty matters blog’, a blog set up in partnership with the Gates Foundation, didn’t quite get the message this week, it seems. “Why is the Gates foundation investing in GM giant Monsanto?” was the title of an incisive story.

6. Times SA – SA to import thousands of docs

South Africa will recruit thousands of doctors from other countries to staff the national health insurance scheme scheduled for launching in under two years, chief planner Olive Shisana declared this week.

7. Aidspan – Some Donors Announce Their Pledges to the Global Fund for 2011-2013

David Garmaise ;

France, Japan, Canada, Norway and China have announced how much they plan to donate to the Global Fund for the three-year period 2011-2013. China‘s donation remains underwhelming, to say the least.

8. Lancet – Restructuring USAID: time to match rhetoric with deeds

The Lancet ; Full Text

A Lancet editorial says the Obama administration should now match the rhetoric about USAID with deeds. There was a feeling of déjà vu when Obama addressed the UN summit last week. Nancy Birdsall, from CGD, is more positive about the new US global development policy, as laid out by Obama last week.

9. Seven Challenges in International Development Assistance for Health and Ways Forward

Devi Sridhar; (PDF, 11p, 172 Kb)

In the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, Devi Sridhar sketches seven challenges in international development assistance for health and three ways forward.

10.    WHO – A third of those in need of antiretrovirals in poor countries can now get them

Last year saw important gains in expanding access to HIV treatment and care in several low and middle income countries, but interventions need to be scaled up to help millions of people access antiretrovirals, says a new global report by WHO, UNAIDS and UNICEF.

11.    Plos Medicine – Drug Companies Should Be Held More Accountable for Their Human Rights Responsibilities

The PLoS Medicine Editors argue that drug companies should be held more accountable for their human rights responsibilities. The journal also features a debate on the issue this week with three perspectives. Gruskin & Raad from the Harvard School of Public Health say more assessment is needed of such responsibilities; Ritter, a Merck executive, argues that multiple stakeholders could do more to help States deliver the right to health. Finally, Paul Hunt and Rajat Khosla introduce Hunt’s work as the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to the highest attainable standard of health, regarding the human rights responsibilities of Big Pharma and access to medicines.

12.    Guardian – Time for the drug companies to hand over their patents

Sarah Boseley

The US National Institutes of Health, the medical research establishment of the US government, announced that it would license an Aids drug to the medicines patent pool, so cheap copies can be made for poor countries. Multinational drug companies should now join in.

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