There are a number of global health policy controversies ongoing, with of course the NCD commotion being one of them. Last week, this newsletter already featured a few BMJ articles on the upcoming UN summit, and this week a Lancet editorial stresses it’s time for action.
Sarah Boseley also had her say in the Guardian, and there’s a very nice comment by Colvin in Globalization and Health on HIV/AIDS, chronic diseases and globalization. Make sure you also check out Global Health magazine, as the new issue is dedicated to NCDs.  The  article on the  tensions  around NCDs is just one of the must-reads. I hope all this NCD commotion in the journals will inspire some of the global health ‘big shots’ to “do a Jeffrey Sachs”  in the coming days and weeks, i.e. try to influence public opinion in their respective countries and beyond, by writing an op-ed.  If all of us spent just 5 % of our time doing that (or at least trying), the world would probably be more “global health-minded”.

Then there’s the next episode in the  “PBF or not PBF: that’s the question” debate. The new WHO Bulletin issue organized a roundtable on the issue, linked to a (rather critical) article by Ireland et al. Ireland and colleagues commented on an earlier article in the Bulletin by Meessen et al., on the PBF approach as a tool to reform health systems in LICs.  It’s not exactly Shakespeare, but it’s a lovely discussion, nevertheless. (And then I  don’t even want to go into some of the paragraphs of discussants that didn’t make the final cut, for reasons only the WHO Bulletin editors know 🙂 )

Finally, the Lancet also dedicates much of this week’s issue to 9/11 and the (national and international) short-term and long-term health consequences of the terrorist attacks. Of course, that’s not just a global health discussion. In any case, the Lancet  editorial and  (even more so) the Offline contribution by Richard Horton mince no words. For example, while acknowledging PEPFAR, Horton assesses George W. Bush basically like this:  “A man whose government launched wars that resulted in the deaths (not saving) of hundreds of thousands of civilian lives is now able to bask in the admiring light of the UN, an institution whose values and ideals were so badly undermined by his administration’s policies.”  I’ve never been a fan of Dubya but still, interventions like these are always going to be controversial (see Libya now, or Syria). Unfortunately, politicians never have the benefit of hindsight when taking decisions. “Non-interference” – many of the European countries’ decision then, just like China’s or Russia’s now (for the Libya intervention) – can be a justified option. But let’s face it, non-interference is just as controversial as ‘going in’, and rationales for not interfering are usually equally murky. I didn’t understand Chirac and Schröder, back then. But that’s just me. And granted, as an Iraqi citizen, I would probably have an entirely different view.

Kristof Decoster

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