Dear Colleagues,

This week Robert De Niro, Woody Allen and other Hollywood icons are basking in the limelight in Cannes. Carla Bruni didn’t show up, in spite of her role in the new Woody Allen comedy “Minuit à Paris”, and the “starring” role for her husband in the much anticipated “La conquête”. Sarkozy himself has some more important business to attend, apparently he’s busy protecting the borders of his beloved country. Meanwhile, a few hundreds of kilometers further, in Clermont-Ferrand, another major event is taking place: the third international colloquium on the financing of health systems in developing and emerging countries, organized by CERDI, le Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches sur le Développement International (11-13 May). And just like in Cannes, the conference organizers can boast an excellent line-up this year. Our colleague Maria Bertone already summarized the highlights of the pre-conference workshop organized by the Incentives for Health Provider Performance Network (IHPPN), and our Cameroon colleague, Isidore, also sent us some of his early impressions. Jonathan Glennie attended the pre-event, he refers to it today on the Guardian’s website. None of these people mention steamy after-party’s, thoughJ. Call it a lack of transparency, if you want.  Or perhaps these PBF boys and girls save the best for last?

Istanbul hosted a different meeting this week, on the least developed countries. Just like last week at the World Economic Forum, there was a lot of talk of the private sector boosting growth to alleviate poverty. However, foreign aid is still acknowledged as being of vital importance, according to this article in the Guardian. Gates was in Australia this week, to drive this message home.

There were updates on Obama’s Global Health Initiative, on the CGD website and in a series in the Global Post, featuring, among others, an interview with Lois Quam. John Donnelly’s assessment is somewhat different from Nandini Oomman’s. But who knows, now that Obama’s approval ratings are up again, maybe he could surf on this wave and put some real money in the GHI?

Finally, yesterday was international nurses day. Intrahealth has an nice post about this. Congratulations to all the nurses in this world, for the excellent and often underestimated job they’re doing! (that one was on behalf of my sisters, who both happen to be nurses).

Enjoy your reading.

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

Global Health

1.    CSIS – Health Diplomacy of foreign governments

Katherine E. Bliss;

In a new CSIS report, Bliss reports on the health diplomacy of a number of foreign governments, and what the implications are for the US.

2.    Plos – The Joint Action and Learning Initiative: Towards a Global Agreement on National and Global Responsibilities for Health

Lawrence O. Gostin, Eric A. Friedman, Gorik Ooms, Thomas Gebauer, Narendra Gupta, Devi Sridhar, Wang Chenguang, John-Arne Røttingen, David Sanders;

Gostin and colleagues discuss their work on the Joint Action and Learning Initiative on National and Global Responsibilities for Health (JALI), which aims to secure a global health agreement (such as a Framework Convention on Global Health) that would inform post-MDG global health commitments.

3.    Lancet – Offline: Ten commandments, G8 corruption, and OBL

Richard Horton Full Text

Horton opines on the link between Osama Bin Laden and mother and children’s health, and on many other things. Osama’s death interfered with a press conference in Dar es Salaam to launch the final report of the UN Secretary-General’s Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health. (If he were still alive, OBL might actually agree with a statement made by Tanzanian president Kikwete, on the corruption in the G8.) This is also the time to expand the reach of the Global Strategy—and embrace GAVI, stillbirths, and a new era of family planning, as well as draw in UNAIDS, the Global Fund, and the World Bank.

4.    One – African health ministers go ‘on the record’ about vaccines

Erin Hohlfelder;

African Ministers of Health speak out in favour of vaccination on the website of ONE.

5.    Lancet – Fighting fake drugs: the role of WHO and pharma

The Lancet; Full Text

The role of WHO isn’t clear yet in this area. But as far as Big Pharma is concerned, we do not disagree with the Lancet editors when they urge the big pharmaceutical companies to disclose the information they have on fake drugs across the world.

Health Policy & financing

6.    Lancet series – Health in Brazil

Brazil has made significant improvements in maternal and child health, emergency care, and in reducing the burden of infectious diseases. But the news is not all good. The country continues to have a burden of injury mortality that is different from other countries due to the large number of murders, especially using firearms. Obesity levels are increasing and caesarean section rates are the highest in the world. Brazil now has the opportunity to move closer towards its ultimate goal of universal, equitable, and sustainable health care as enshrined in the 1988 Constitution. To highlight this opportunity, The Lancet is publishing a Series of six papers that critically examine what the country’s policies have achieved and where future challenges lie. The key challenge remains a political one.


We feature in this newsletter a Comment by Kleinert & Horton. They claim that “Brazil now has an important and timely opportunity to cement its formidable health achievements towards its ultimate goal of universal, equitable, and sustainable health care to fulfil the right to health enshrined in its 1988 constitution.” We also feature a Comment by Paulo Buss, on Brazil’s innovative approach of international cooperation for health.

7.    Guardian – WHO director general Margaret Chan says fight for global health on all fronts

Sarah Boseley;

Sarah Boseley zooms in on a few aspects Chan mentioned in a recent interview with USAID’s Frontlines magazine. Chan said healthcare systems and fighting diseases like Aids and TB are both important. In other words, she repeated her call for a two-pronged approach to improving health in LMICs: HSS & strong disease control programmes are both needed.

8.    MSF report – Getting ahead of the wave: lessons for the next decade of the AIDS response


A report released today by the international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) revealed that several countries hardest hit by the AIDS epidemic are improving HIV treatment to reduce deaths and illness – but a lack of support from donors prevents many from making vital changes. You find the Report here (PDF 1,1 MB).

9.    Guardian – Drug regime could halt spread of HIV

Sarah Boseley;

Sarah Boseley reports on a much publicized study that finds that early treatment with antiretrovirals can help prevent people from passing on virus to sexual partners. According to Humanosphere’s Tom Paulson, the study results are not all that new.

In another article, Boseley also wonders whether the AIDS drug trial could help end the stigma around aids, for example in a country like Uganda. Actually, there’s a lot more to say about Uganda these days, but let’s keep that for another newsletter.

10. Aidspan – Is the Global Fund ‘Model’ Still Relevant?” – OIG

David Garmaise;

The Global Fund’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) commented on the strategy of the GF in the current environment.  If the GF is to keep the same model, it should include risk management in its strategy.


In another article, Garmaise describes the new features that will be introduced for Round 11, which is expected to be launched on 15 August 2011. The article also contains a comment from Aidspan urging potential applicants to start working on their proposals now.


Today, Global Fund Observer dedicated a new issue to the 23rd Board Meeting of the GF, that took place in Geneva this week. The Global Fund Board made decisions on, among other things, the Global Fund’s reform agenda; new CCM guidelines; the election of the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Board; new eligibility, counterpart financing and prioritisation criteria; and the release of the report by the Office of the Inspector General of its investigation into several grants in Mali.

11. KFF – AP Reports On Global Fund Commitment To Transparency, Fund Responds

The Global Fund reacted to yet another Associated Press story on the Fund, “Contrary to assertions referred to in an Associated Press article, the Global Fund Board will not discuss any proposal of scaling back the investigations or revealing less about them to donors and the public.” The statement reiterated that the Fund has “always been and [will] continue to be fully committed to transparency and accountability”. If you ask us: in its grudge against the GF and its quest to “reveal the shocking truth”, Associated Press is starting to resemble Donald Trump.

12. Lancet – The rise of open source electronic health records

Paul C Webster; Full Text

Several developing nations are joining the revolution in electronic health records to improve efficiency in their health systems, but at a fraction of the usual cost. Paul C. Webster reports.

13. HP&P – Influencing policy change: the experience of health think tanks in low- and middle-income countries

Sara Bennett, Adrijana Corluka, Jane Doherty,et al.;

Bennett and colleagues have studied the influence of health think thanks in LMICs on policy makers. No doubt this is also an interesting study for our emerging voices project. Influencing health policy should not only happen at the global level.

14. CoP pre-event in Clermont-Ferrand

As we mentioned in the introduction, our colleagues, Maria Bertone and Isidore Sieleunou report from the CERDI conference in Clermont Ferrand. Our blogger website is having some trouble, so we provide their contribution as an attachment to this newsletter. We will post it here later.

15. HP&P – Addressing access barriers to health services: an analytical framework for selecting appropriate interventions in low-income Asian countries

Bart Jacobs, Por Ir, Maryam Bigdeli, Peter Leslie Annear and Wim Van Damme

Some of our colleagues wrote this article, presenting a framework for selecting appropriate interventions to address access barriers to health services in low-income Asian countries.

Aid, development & GPG

16. Easterly & Williamson Report on aid agencies

Claudia Williamson;

In a new report that will appear in World Development, Easterly and Williamson assess five dimensions of aid agency ‘best practices’: aid transparency, minimal overhead costs, aid specialization, delivery to more effective channels, and selectivity of recipient countries based on poverty and good government. They summarize some of the key conclusions in this blog post. You find the report here.


Nemat Shafik has now written up the content of her lecture in Italy last year on the future of development finance, in a new CGD working paper.

Finally, CGD’s Nancy Birdsall also wrote an interesting  blog post on a new Tunis consensus, by the African Development Bank, which tries to go beyond “Aid” effectiveness. The ADB outlined this agenda in the run-up to Busan.  “The Tunis Consensus: Targeting Effective Development”, with the subtitle “From Aid Effectiveness to Development Effectiveness.”


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