Dear Colleagues,

Plenty of exciting news came from India this week, so we invited Meena Daivadanam, Emerging voice from India, to comment on the country’s progress towards Universal Coverage , the “phenomenon” Anna Hazare and India’s aid donor status.

Universal Coverage seems to be the mantra of the week with India planning a new cess  to fund free healthcare for all by 2020 and South Africa unveiling its Green Paper on National Health Insurance. Come next budget, Indians and South Africans can expect to contribute dearly into their tax kitty.

Read the rest of this editorial

Enjoy your reading.

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



1. Lancet – Offline

Richard Horton;
Horton is pretty pessimistic about the upcoming NCD summit. “What looked like an opportunity to rewrite the world’s agenda for global health is now turning into a fiasco, one in which corporations are successfully applying pressure to governments to block any attempt to produce an outcomes document with teeth.” That is, EU and US governments.

2. Huffington Post – We Need Measurable Outcomes From the UN High-Level Meeting on NCDs

Nalini Saligram & Sandeep P. Kishore;

Salingram & Kishore are pretty upset too about the fact that the negotiations for the Outcomes Document of the UN High Level Meeting on NCDs have stalled because member states failed to reach consensus.

Earlier this week, Saligram also opined on the crucial role women can and should play in the solution to the NCD crisis. She outlined the purpose of the “Women for a Healthy Future’ movement in the Huffington Post.

3. KFF – NCD Alliance Says U.S., Canada, E.U. Stalling Efforts To Fight NCDs

On Thursday, the NCD Alliance accused the US, Canada and Europe of “harming efforts to fight cancer, diabetes, heart and other diseases because they will not agree to set United Nations targets.”

4. BMJ (Analysis) – Policy options to reduce population salt intake

Francesco P. Capuccio et al. ;

Researchers from the Universities of Warwick and Liverpool call for the U.N. to “make reducing salt intake a global health priority,” stating that “a 15 percent cut in consumption could save 8.5 million lives around the world over the next decade”.


5. HP&P – The role of non-governmental organizations in global health diplomacy: negotiating the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

Raphael Lencucha, Anita Kothari and Ronald Labonté;

How do NGOs manage the challenges they face while engaging in global health diplomacy? What roles do, and can, they play in achieving new forms of global health diplomacy? This paper addresses these questions through presentation of findings from a study of the roles assumed by one group of non-governmental actors (the Canadian NGOs) in the FCTC negotiations.


Speaking of tobacco, Thomas J. Bollyky just published this memorandum on ‘forging a new US trade policy on tobacco’. “U.S. negotiators should pursue a four-part strategy in the TPP that reduces tobacco agricultural subsidies; promotes coordinated, stringent tobacco product regulation; includes an explicit health exception for tobacco control measures; and excludes Vietnam, a lower-income country involved in the TPP talks, from tobacco tariff reductions. If implemented, this strategy will achieve the long elusive appropriate balance between U.S. mandates on trade and its obligations to promote global health and standing abroad.”


Global Health Policy & Financing


6. KFF – Financing the Response to AIDS in Low- and Middle- Income Countries: International Assistance from Donor Governments in 2010

It’s official now – international AIDS funding decreased in 2010, according to a KFF report.


Nandini Oomman already reacted.



7. BBC – South Africa unveils universal health care scheme

More encouraging news though on UHC: South Africa’s government has set out its plans to introduce a universal health care scheme. A pilot scheme in 10 areas is to start in April 2012, and will then be phased in nationally over the next 14 years.


8. Times of India – New cess may be levied to fund free healthcare

Similar news from India, as reported by Meena in the introduction: the Indian government is considering a proposal to levy a surcharge to fund its ambitious plan of providing free healthcare to every citizen in the country.


On the Plos website, Rhona McDonald already commented on these encouraging UHC developments. A ‘Save the Children’ blogger did the same.


9. Lancet – Global Health Portal

The Lancet has launched a Global Health Portal, which “offers free and unlimited access to all global health content in one location including Series, Regional Reports, multimedia content, and from our World Report and Perspectives sections”. Check it out.


10.   Lancet (editorial) – South Africa should step up oversight of maternal care

A new Human Rights Watch report  details the sorry state of maternity care in South Africa.

There’s better news on AIDS treatment in South Africa: the South African government has expanded  its AIDS programme to allow people living with HIV to start antiretroviral treatment earlier. Under the new programme, people who test positive for HIV would be put on anti-AIDS drugs when their CD4 count drops to 350.



Over to the land of Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann then. Richard Parker explores what the debt ceiling agreement might imply for the foreign affairs budget. A science speaks blog post explores more specifically the future of US global health funding, in a blog post on the ‘Gang of 12’, i.e. the congressmen (there’s only one woman) that will staff the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.


Meanwhile, the FY 12 State/Foreign Appropriations bill that funds international development and global health proposes a 9 percent cut from current funding levels. You can take action too. Check out the Global Health council website.


There was a tiny bit of good news though on US funding for NTDs.


12.   NEJM – Pediatric HIV — A Neglected Disease?

Marc Lallemant et al.;

The authors reckon pediatric HIV amounts to a neglected disease.


13.   BMJ (news) – China sets out new 10 year health plan for women and children

Jane Parry;

China’s State Council has set out an ambitious 10 year plan for children and women, laying out more than 100 goals in seven areas for women and five for children, including health, education, and social welfare.


14.   Lancet Infectious diseases (Comment) – Epidemiology of malaria morbidity after control scale-up

Joseph Keating et al.;

Keating and Eisele comment on a recent study by Trape et al. on bednets in Senegal. “Trape and colleagues conclude that the recorded rebound in malaria attacks, and the recorded increase in malaria attacks in older children and adults, was caused by a combination of lowered immunity in older individuals as a result of intervention-suppressed transmission and insecticide resistance that developed in the local malaria vectors.” However, Keating and Eisele warn that caution is needed when these findings are generalized to populations across Africa.


Humanosphere also has a nice post on this recent Lancet infectious diseases study.


Health Policy Research


15.   Plos Medicine (Policy Forum) – Building the Field of Health Policy and Systems Research: Framing the Questions

Kabir Sheikh et al.;

In the first of a series of three articles addressing the current challenges and opportunities for the development of Health Policy and Systems Research (HPSR), Kabir Sheikh and colleagues lay out the main questions vexing the field.



16.   American Journal of Public Health – Peak oil, food systems and public health

Peter Winch & Rebecca Stepnitz;

The authors describe how peak oil will affect health, nutrition, and health systems in low and middle-income countries along 5 pathways.


The prolific Sanja Basu already commented on the article ( see Global Health Hub).


Emerging voices

17.   BMJ (rapid response) – Delivering healthcare in conflict zones: a need for international regulations

Basile Keugong;

Our colleague Basile commented on a recent BMJ editorial by Nathanson on delivering health care in conflict situations. There is an urgent need for WHO to propose regulations for ensuring healthcare interventions in conflict zones.



Development & Aid


As usual, there was plenty of development & aid news. Articles that caught our attention for some reason:


  • The Economist: big developing countries are shaking up the world of aid.


  • Also in the Economist: the news on India’s plan to set up its own aid agency. CGD’s Duran & Glassman already  commented on this news.


  • An OECD peer review of US aid has been published, with the following verdict: the reforms are great on paper, but they’re not delivering for poor people (yet). Follow-through will be crucial.


  • You might want to read this NYT op-ed on Cambodia and the looming threat for civil society in that country (including the potential impact this might have on donors).


  • As the financial crisis continues to rip up the world as we know it (and as we speak), we recommend the reading of an opinion piece by Jeffrey Sachs in the Financial Times – with three sensible recommendations for fiscal policy in transatlantic economies – and a piece on a Worldbank blog on credit ratings for the 50+ developing countries who currently lack them.


  • Finally, Jean-Paul Fitoussi is a scholar you might want to read more of. Read this blog post on the Broker website to get an idea of his work.

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