Dear Colleagues,

It’s not often that we talk about sex in this newsletter, but this week we’ll make an exception: an interesting article on the Guardian ‘Poverty matters’ blog encourages us to make a habit of it in the global health and broader international development communities.  “Understanding the impact of sexuality on poverty and social exclusion is essential if we are to create and implement effective strategies to improve people’s lives.”  Speaking of social exclusion, there’s currently only one woman among the editors of this newsletter.  Worse, she’s on maternity leave!

In China, the Minister of Science and Technology has announced that applications are now being taken from African researchers for one year postdoctoral positions in Chinese institutions for either 2011 or 2012.  The programme provides each researcher a fellowship of 140 000 RMB  (which is fairly good money in China), including international travel expenses, accommodation, medical insurance and a research subsidy. For more information, both in Chinese and English, check out this website. For the African scholars among you: staying in China for one year is a marvelous opportunity you should seize. It’s a great and exciting country, and even more so now, in these turbulent global times. If you are lucky, you might even get to smell a whiff of jasmine over thereJ.  Whether we can still call this sort of scientific cooperation ‘South-South’ collaboration is debatable, however, as the concepts ‘North’ and ‘South’ are quickly losing their relevance.

Hillary Clinton and John Kerry might not agree with the latter statement, though. As Clinton bluntly mentioned in a Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing this week, budget cuts for development projects and diplomacy would hamper U.S. influence in some parts of the world where China is trying to assert itself: “Let’s put aside the humanitarian, do-good side of what we believe in. Let’s just talk straight realpolitik. We are in competition with China.”  In the Christian Science Monitor, Laurie Garret also makes the case for foreign aid, in slightly different terms though. And then there is the Gates foundation approach, paying money to the BBC, to “shape” stories on maternal and child health. As you know, we have absolutely nothing against ‘framing’ for a good cause. So, keep up the good work, Bill!  

Enjoy your reading.

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

Global Health Financing


1.KFF (factsheet) – U.S. Funding for the Global Health Initiative (GHI): The President’s FY 2012 Budget Request

This KFF fact sheet provides an overview of the Obama Administration’s fiscal year 2012 budget plan for the Global Health Initiative.


Related to the GHI, Nandini Oomman and Christina Droggitis from CGD would like to ask a few questions to Hillary Clinton. They are probably not the only ones.

2.Humanosphere – Obama’s new global health czar

Tom Paulson;

Lois Quam, the new leading lady of Obama’s GHI, made her first public statements last Tuesday since accepting the position of GHI chief. Tom Paulson comments.

3.WHO Bulletin – Does recession reduce global health aid? Evidence from 15 high-income countries, 1975–2007

David Stuckler, Sanjay Basu, Stephanie W Wangd & Martin McKee;

The researchers found that there was surprisingly little evidence that economic downturns were associated with large cuts in aid, at least within the first several years of a financial crisis. Similar to present circumstances, they found that some countries appeared to reduce aid, while others increased it in a manner that did not seem to depend on the scale of the financial crisis they faced.  There are currently concerns that donor agencies will reduce aid in response to a political climate that calls for fiscal austerity in their countries, say the authors. “The financial crisis has given politicians ample excuses to break their aid promises,” said Stuckler. “We found that such a political choice cannot simply be justified on the basis of the past.”

4.Lancet infectious disease – Vaccine progress reveals resource gaps in developing countries

Talha Khan Burki; Full Text

The Lancet Infectious Diseases’ Newsdesk examines how resource gaps in immunizations, health workers and financing are creating barriers to efforts to achieve the MDG target to reduce child mortality by two-thirds by 2015, as highlighted in a recent Save the Children report. The article describes the role GAVI Alliance has played in increasing the number of children receiving vaccines worldwide and notes the $3.7 billion gap the group hopes to fill to expand its immunization campaign over the next four years.

5.The LancetThe benefits of recession

Full Text

Health professionals around the world are rightly asking difficult questions of their governments as cuts to health services are implemented within national austerity packages. The global financial recession has led to an international health recession, with the exception of a small number of high-growth economies, such as China. The fear that governments will use their economic predicaments to cut back state funding for health is not imaginary. The UK is a prime example of a country in which politicians have exploited an emergency to open up new markets for any willing private provider.


The Lancet editors discuss the need for greater accountability and quality of measurements in Global Health to sustain funding commitments at times where budgets in rich countries are squeezed.

6.DFID – multilateral aid review

DFID’s review assessed the value for money for UK aid of 43 multilateral organisations. We thought ODI did a pretty good job in unpicking the multilateral and bilateral aid reviews.


* Jonathan Glennie finds that the two fundamental pillars of the Bilateral Aid Review are sound: reduced geographical scope, and a new way of allocating aid according to projections of concrete and costed results.

* Ed Hedger finds a thorough Multilateral Aid Review has thrown up tough questions for one or two UK aid partners. GAVI and the Global Fund did well, by the way. And in another boost to the Global Fund, three UN agencies – with UNDP being one of them – are currently preparing a joint proposal on how to open up access to their internal audits.

* Samir Elhawary investigates whether greater aid spending in fragile and conflict affected states will lead to a securitisation of aid.


7.The Lancet – Taxing tobacco profits to prevent the smoking epidemic

John Britton; Full Text

A Lancet editorial says that there is an argument for prioritising the promotion of key policy components of WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in the developing world. Especially advertising bans are the way to go.

Global Health Policy

8.Health Diplomacy Monitor (February) –

The February issue of the Health Diplomacy Monitor is, as always, excellent. This month, the issue features a number of interesting WHO related discussions (among other things).

9.Global Health Europe – Creating a global health policy worthy of the name

The Development Policy Forum of the Brussels based ‘Friends of Europe’ think tank together with the EU-wide policy journal Europe’s World has launched a special publication devoted to the subject of the global health policy in the EU.


10.   Globalization and Health – Can NGOs regulate medicines markets? Social enterprise in wholesaling, and access to essential medicines

Maureen Mackintosh, Sudip Chaudhuri and Phares GM Mujinja; abstract, PDF ( 199 Kb)

National health service delivery platforms rely on international private providers especially when it comes to drug procurement. This paper reviewed the role not for profit drug providers can play at the global level to improve the national drug provision market in states that have a weak regulatory authority.

11.   The LancetAdolescent girls: taking centre stage

Full Text

A Lancet editorial dwells on the UN Adolescent Girls Task force, formed in March 2010. The aspiration is ambitious: to improve the lives of adolescent girls with a comprehensive package of interventions tailored to their needs.

Global Health & Development Book review

12.   Santé internationale – Les enjeux de santé au Sud

Dominique Kerouedan – abstract in English and in French.

In this recently published book, available only in French, Dominique Kerouedan and colleagues’ ambition is to provide the basics of health issues facing the global south for anyone willing to engage in this field.

13.   Global Public Health – Global health: Why cultural perceptions, social representations, and biopolitics matter

Global Public Health features a book review (online): “It –  i.e. the new book written by Mark Nichter, from Arizona University – is a complicated book that captures the essence of anthropology’s contribution to bettering public health while urging us all to become more interdisciplinary in our work. Nichter suggests we return to a systems approach for thinking about and addressing global health issues by incorporating syndemics and ecosocial epidemiological approaches within the context of an in-depth cultural understanding of health beliefs, attitudes and behaviours.” Now that’s probably something GOP politicians might want to read.


14.   Poor Economics

Banerjee & Duflo: book’s website

For more than fifteen years, Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo have worked with the poor in dozens of countries spanning five continents, trying to understand the specific problems that come with poverty and to find proven solutions. Their new book is radical in its rethinking of the economics of poverty, but also entirely practical in the suggestions it offers. They show why the poor, despite having the same desires and abilities as anyone else, end up with entirely different lives.  Poor economics argues that so much of anti-poverty policy has failed over the years because of an inadequate understanding of poverty.

15.   Getting Better: Why Global Development Is Succeeding–And How We Can Improve the World Even More

Charles Kenny;

As the income gap between developed and developing nations grows, so grows the cacophony of voices claiming that the quest to find a simple recipe for economic growth has failed. In contrast, “Getting Better” reports the good news about global progress – as you might have guessed from the title. Economist Charles “the Optimist” Kenny argues against development naysayers by pointing to the evidence of widespread improvements in health, education, peace, liberty–and even happiness. Kenny shows how the spread of cheap technologies, such as vaccines and bed nets, and ideas, such as political rights, has transformed the world. He also shows that by understanding this transformation, we can make the world an even better place to live.


16.   Guardian – How can we achieve development goals if we ignore human rights?

Annie Kelly;

Amnesty International’s new general secretary Salil Shetty says poverty and exclusion will continue unchallenged unless human rights take centre stage in development policy.

17.   CGD – The Post-Washington Consensus: Development after the Crisis – Working Paper 244

(reprinted from the March/April Foreign Affairs issue)

Nancy Birdsall & Francis Fukuyama;

The American version of capitalism is no longer dominant around the world. In the next decade, developing countries are likely to continue to trade the flexibility and efficiency associated with the free-market model for domestic policies meant to ensure greater resilience in the face of competitive pressures and global economic trauma.

18.   World Bank – Africa Regional strategy : Africa‘s Future and the World Bank‘s Support to it

In its brand new Africa Regional strategy, the World Bank is moving away from seeking economic stability in African countries to ensuring employment and social needs. The plan shifts from a more general focus to emphasising the need for attention towards employment, citizens’ vulnerability and public sector capacity building. The new strategy reverses the order of importance of the bank’s instruments to support Africa. The most important ingredient will be partnerships, then knowledge and finally finance.



David Hercot

Scientist International and National Health Policies

Public Health Department

Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp Belgium



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