Dear Colleagues,

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This week the rescue of < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Chile’s trapped miners was great tv and definitely the feel-good story of the year, if not the decade. Billionaire president Pinera proved very keen on being part of the script as well, and showed again that politicians all over the world want to be involved in positive stories.  It is a bit odd thus to see Matt Thompson argue that funding foreign aid could become a political winner (in the US, presumably). Let’s say we are not entirely convinced. A blog post on Smart Global Health puts it more aptly, in our opinion, referring to the GF replenishment round of last week: “The Global Fund in an age of austerity, angst and uncertainty.”


It’s good to see the GF is not the only institution with financing issues. The English Premier League is a big financial mess for the moment, and could use more than a bit of ‘austerity, angst and uncertainty’. In fact, Liverpool fans already feel like that. Empathizing with the fans, the UK government has deemed it wise to exempt premier league players from a visa cap; scientists from the South don’t get any visa exemptions so far. A reverse brain drain, one could say. Cheers for the new UK government!


Enjoy your reading.


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

Global Fund

1. Aidspan – Donor Governments Pledge Record – But Insufficient – Amounts to the Fund

Bernard Rivers;

Rivers gives the overview of the donor pledges of last week, and compares them with the pledges for the period 2008-2010.

2. The Global Fund: a bleak future ahead

The Lancet ; Full Text

Disappointment about the GF replenishment is also obvious in this Lancet editorial. Especially the tiny contribution of China and Russia is being singled out, as well as the deafening silence of the WHO.


3. Irin news – HIV/AIDS: Global Fund looks to private sector to fill funding gap

At a 12 October conference on the role of business in health in Johannesburg, members of the Fund’s board and secretariat said private sector contributions had become increasingly important as governments were increasingly shying away from fully funding the global health financing mechanism. However, it remains to be seen whether the private sector can fill the gap.


4. Lancet – Universal access to malaria medicines: innovation in financing and delivery

Olusoji Adeyi, Rifat Atun;

Adeyi and Atun dwell on AMFm, and think it has the potential to transform the way universal access to new malaria drugs and similar technologies is financed. They claim the traditional approach to development assistance for malaria treatment, which puts most resources through the public sector alone, will not achieve by 2015 MDG 6, of universal access to malaria treatment.


Participants in a special World Health Summit session on “innovative financing mechanisms” agreed that it is vital to loosen the purse strings of governments, corporations and individuals in order to significantly finance global health programs. They were not very fond of some of the innovative financing mechanisms suggested, though, like “an “excess profits” tax on banks and highly profitable multinationals; a 0.005% “Robin Hood” tax on all financial transactions; higher “sin” taxes on tobacco and alcohol; or new “fun” taxes on airline, movie, sports and other entertainment tickets.”


Yet, it is obvious we need to do something. Andrew Harmer elaborates on another innovative financing mechanism, in a global health policy blog post: a global social health protection fund. This is a mechanism to provide recurrent financing, to address persistent threats to health, and is grounded in rights and duties, and based on need. Harmer has his doubts. 


5. KFF – World Bank, IMF Discuss Development Funds At Annual Meeting

The World Bank’s International Development Association fund requires new resources from Western governments to adequately fight global poverty, Robert Zoellick said on Saturday during the annual meetings of the bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. 



6. TDR – New African-led health R&D network launched to increase innovation and access to medicines

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the WHO are joining forces to establish an African-owned and governed initiative to promote innovation for the development of pharmaceuticals and other products to meet the health needs of the continent: the African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation (ANDI).

7. WHO report – WHO: control of neglected tropical diseases is feasible

PDF here

According to a new WHO report, “Working to overcome the global impact of neglected tropical diseases”, on 17 neglected tropical diseases, the misery and disability caused by a group of chronic infectious diseases, found almost exclusively in very poor populations, can now be substantially reduced.


Both Sarah Boseley and  Owen Barder zoom in on this report, and on the positive role played by pharmaceutical companies (although Boseley gives credit mainly to GSK, unlike Barder).


In sub-Saharan Africa, the burden of HIV infection falls largely on women, who represent about 60% of all people living with the infection in the region.1 Young women are at particular risk; in some areas the prevalence of infection in women aged 15–24 years is nearly three times that of young men. This heightened vulnerability is driven by social, economic, and cultural factors that include transactional partnerships with older men, who are more likely to be infected.1,2 In gender-inequitable and transactional sexual relationships, decisions about behavioural change and condom use are mainly controlled by men and thus, prevention approaches have not greatly reduced the risk of HIV infection for young women in sub-Saharan Africa.  

8. Time for a bold new vision at the Stop TB Partnership

Salmaan Keshavjee, Francoise Girard, Mark Harrington, Paul E Farmer ; Full Text

Keshavjee et al. say a new Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership will have to address three challenges. These challenges should be kept in mind when WHO’s Director-General and the Stop TB Partnership Coordinating Board recruit the new Executive Secretary.

9. Reuters –Analysis: Polio nearly wiped out but risk of failure high

Experts say it’s vital that the polio eradication effort is successful, otherwise other global health battles could become jeopardized.

Global Health

10.    HP&P – Health systems strengthening: a common classification and framework for investment analysis

George Sakarashivili et al. ;

Availability of a common framework for tracking donor investments in HSS would make it possible to comparatively analyze donors’ contributions to strengthening specific aspects of countries’ health systems in multi-donor-supported HSS environments. The authors sketch four prerequisites for developing such analytical framework, and propose an analytical framework for tracking donor investments in HSS, to start the debate.

11.    Putting patients above politics

Tido von Schoen-Angerer ; Full Text

MSF is not impressed by Richard Horton’s claim that critics of the US global AIDS policy will cause negative political consequences in upcoming US elections. We happen to agree. We doubt very much the impact of the US global Aids policy on US midterm elections, if so many Americans seem convinced foreign aid is the second area of spending in the federal budget.  


12.    JLME – Why the West is perceived as being unworthy of cooperation

Gorik Ooms;

Gorik explains that the West is perceived as being unworthy of cooperation, because it does not feel responsible for the human rights of humans in the rest of the world, not even for their most basic survival needs. He argues in favour of a sliding scale of responsibility.

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