Dear Colleagues,

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.

Read the rest of this editorial

Enjoy your reading.

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

Non Communicable Diseases Summit

1. Lancet: Time for action in New York on non-communicable diseases

Full Text;

David Hercot’s assessment: “At some point in time, we will need the courage to finally take on these private companies that are merely driven by profit (even if at the cost of thousands of lives or of whole ecosystems). It’s obvious that as long as money is the credo of our societies we will continue to have disappointingly weak statements (when there’s a threat of reducing profits of large companies or market sectors). Peace, the environment and health are just some of the issues threatened by the interests of a few. For the time being, it looks as if the UN summit on NCD won’t be the tipping point where the public interest will start to prevail.”

2. Globalization and Health – HIV/AIDS, Chronic Diseases and Globalisation

Christopher J Colvin;

open source PDF

This article examines the chronic character of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and highlights some of the changes we might expect to see at the global level as HIV is increasingly normalised as “just another chronic disease”. The article also addresses the use of this language of chronicity to interpret the HIV/AIDS pandemic and calls into question some of the consequences of an uncritical acceptance of concepts of chronicity.

3. Global Health (new  issue) – NCDs

Global Health has a new issue on the NCDs, with plenty of interesting articles. It’s time for a change, Nellie Bristol emphasizes. (We agree, but we also think it’s about time to find some other phrases than the evergreens ‘time for a change’, ‘the time to act is now’, or ‘an Agenda for action’. Anybody?)

4. Lancet – Role of law in global response to non-communicable diseases

Roger Magnusson, David Patterson ;

Magnusson & Patterson dwell on the role of law in the global response to NCDs. International leadership in public health law should focus on three priorities.

Global Health Policy

The August issue of Health Diplomacy monitor gives an excellent overview of global health trends and events that took place in summer. It also features some articles looking ahead, for example on the upcoming Rio conference on the social determinants of health.

5. Lancet editorial on 9/11 –

The terrorist attacks in New York City, Virginia, and Pennsylvania on Sept 11, 2001, were the deadliest seen on US soil since World War 2. The events of that day changed the historical trajectory of America and the world. This issue of The Lancet allows reflections on the events of 9/11, and particularly explores some of the research, review, and opinion pieces on the short-term and long-term physical, mental, and public health consequences of the terrorist attacks. The research papers report not only US domestic health effects but also some of the international consequences.


6. Lancet – Re-invigorating Japan’s commitment to global health: challenges and opportunities

Rayden Llano, Sayako Kanamori, Osamu Kunii et al.;

A Lancet Series reviews the past 50 years of Japan’s universal health coverage, identifies challenges of today and proposes paths for the future.


Given the focus of our newsletter, we would like to draw attention to this series article in particular, on the need to reinvigorate Japan’s commitment to global health, and the challenges and opportunities.


7. AFGH blog post – summer is over, and Brussels is officially back to work

Bruno Rivalan;

As the summer break is giving way to the autumn rush, AFGH summarizes its agenda for the coming months. Some items on the agenda will also be part of ours, for example, Busan, the EC Communication on budget support, and negotiations on the EU budget for 2014-2020.

8. BMJ news – Global fall in neonatal deaths over past 20 years is too slow, says study

Zarocostas, J. ;

Despite a 29% global fall in the number of babies dying in their first month of life over the past 20 years, progress on improving neonatal mortality rates has been too slow, particularly in Africa. In this BMJ news article, Zarocostas reports on a new Plos study on neonatal mortality figures.

9. Lancet National, regional, and worldwide estimates of stillbirth rates – Easterly’s letter

William Easterly, Laura Freschi ;

Easterly doesn’t really like the stillbirth estimates of Cousens et al (and especially the fact that they tend to rely on modeling). The authors reply.

10.   Plos – Building the Field of Health Policy and Systems Research: An Agenda for Action

Sara Bennett, Irene Akua Agyepong, Kabir Sheikh, et al.;

This third paper in a series on Health Policy and Systems Research proposes key actions to strengthen the field.

11.   UN Dispatch – In Cameroon: When HIV Treatment Fails, Do We Let the Patient Fail As Well?

Mark Leon Goldberg;

In this U.N. Dispatch blog post, Mark Leon Goldberg examines the costs of second-line ARVs which “are several orders of magnitude more expensive than traditional, first-line ARV treatments” and are a “huge barrier to providing care” for resource-poor countries.

12.   WHO Bulletin roundtable on PBF

Megan Ireland et al.;

As already mentioned in the introduction, the PBF debate continues.  This article by Ireland et al. assesses whether PBF can be used to reform health systems in developing countries. Some discussants reply. Some are more diplomatic than others.

Paulin Basinga et al.;

Jean Macq & Jean-Christophe Chiem;

Robert Soeters & Piet Vroeg;

13.   Alliance Magazine – Gates – a benevolent dictator for public health?

Laura Freschi and Alanna Shaikh;

Alliance magazine has a special issue on the Gates Foundation (unfortunately, you have to be a subscriber to have access to most of the articles).

This viewpoint raises a much needed question: who will keep an eye on Gates (besides his wife and Tom Paulson, that is) at a time when an increasing number of Global Health actors, including media, NGOs, international organization and academics are funded or would like to be funded by Gates one way or another.

14.   NEJM – Health Technologies and Innovation in the Global Health Arena

Sidhartha R. Sinha and Michele Barry;

Sinha & Barry reflect on the role of health technologies and innovation in the global health arena.

Emerging Voices

15.   WHO Bulletin – Remind me again why we are here

Amal Shafik and Bart Criel;

Amal Shafik (one of the winners of the 2010 ITM Emerging Voices contest) and Bart Criel bring an interesting perspective on the fact that Community Based Health Insurance schemes sometimes forget their initial aim.

Development & Aid

16.   Aid effectiveness: bringing country ownership (and politics) back in


ODI dedicated a new webpage to the bumpy road to Busan. This excellent working paper by David Booth already gives a taste of things to come. The paper argues that ownership should be treated as a desirable outcome, not an achieved state of affairs. It then asks the corresponding question: whether external actors have any useful role in assisting the emergence of developmental country leaderships. ( I wonder what his feeling is when witnessing Cameron’s grandstanding on the Libya intervention).


The ODI website also features a summary of a meeting that took place in Brussels in July, on Budget support.


CGD’s Savedoff wrote a working paper on incentive proliferation. He suggests a typology.


George Monbiot, from the Guardian, wrote an op-ed on academic publishers. “Down with the knowledge monopoly racketeers”, he goes.


The Guardian Poverty matters blog is always worth reading (whether it’s sponsored by Gates or not). This week there was for example an article on the need to bring in the private sector to make aid more effective.


Finally, an excellent blog post to kick off your weekend is this one from the anonymous ‘Tales from the Hood’ blogger, on “aid marketing he’d love to see”. Especially recommended for the PR people at the  Gates Foundation :).

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