Dear colleagues,


As you might have expected, this week we have a guest editorial on the NCD summit in New York. The American twist got a fair bit of attention this week, but here we have representatives of theSWIHPSnetwork with some early impressions on the outcomes of the summit.


The UN High Level Meeting (UN HLM) on Non Communicable Diseases owes its origins to strong pleas of the CARICOM countries (Healthy Caribbean Coalition) to the UN for scaling up political efforts in order to tackle the Non Communicable Diseases (NCD) epidemic. Once their pleas had been taken on board by a special alliance of 4 forceful disease interest groups (cancer, diabetes, heart, lung), this so-called NCD Alliance was able to galvanize broad societal support during the preparation phase of this first ever major political summit on NCD.

Read the rest of this editorial

Enjoy your reading.

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

UN NCD Summit

1.   BMJ (news) – World leaders sign up to tackle causes of non-communicable diseases

Rebecca Coombes;

World leaders and senior ministers representing the 192 member states of the UN signed a political agreement at the UN General Assembly this week, agreeing to tackle the world’s major non-communicable diseases. BMJ’s Rebecca Coombes assesses the summit.

2.   Foreign Affairs – The UN’s Battle With NCDs

Sheri Fink and Rebecca Rabinowitz ;

In Foreign Affairs, Fink & Rabinowitz explore the NCD battle behind the scenes, between politics, commerce and science.


3.   CGD – WHO and NCD: Another Unfunded Mandate?

Amanda Glassman;

CGD’s Amanda Glassman reckons that the main outcome of the high-level meeting on NCD is some more homework for the WHO. WHO is assigned to lead the global response to NCD, develop a monitoring and evaluation framework, provide technical assistance and track progress towards global targets. (Another unfunded mandate, yes, while WHO is in the middle of a painful reform…)


Elsewhere, CFR’s Toni Johnson updated his backgrounder on the WHO and its current predicament.

4.   Lancet – Accelerating progress on non-communicable diseases

RL Sacco, SC Smith, D Holmes et al.;

The High-level Meeting is only the first step in what must be a long-term and continuing collaboration among multiple stakeholders to improve global health. The next steps require implementation of best buys, investments in innovative research on preventive health strategies, improvements in surveillance, agreement on targets, and creating realistic timelines.

5.   Lancet Oncology – Two days in New York: reflections on the UN NCD summit

The Lancet Oncology reflects on the NCD summit. The editors are underwhelmed. “An opportunity to create political cohesion to tackle the biggest health challenge facing future generations has been missed. Although the declaration sets out the scale of the challenge, it lacks ambition and is more a politically correct declaration than a political declaration of war.”

6.   BMJ (news) – Food and agriculture sectors are not adequately represented at UN health summit, says report

Sophie Arie;

The agriculture and food sectors have a vital role in halting the rise in disease related to bad diet but were barely represented at the NCD summit, warned the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in a report on the links between people’s health and what they eat.



In the run-up to the summit, the WHO and WEF jointly produced a report on the cost of NCDs and the pathways to cost-effective scaling up of the fight against NCDs.


For a detailed overview of the declarations and proceedings at the summit, see the UN website: Day 1; Day 2

The Declaration is available in all six UN languages: click here.

Some more interesting reads on the NCD summit:

  • For a perhaps less “politically correct” assessment of the summit and side-events, we refer to Richard Smith’s BMJ blog posts. If you want to chuckle (or more), check out this one for example. There is also a wealth of information on Tom Paulson’s blog Humanosphere, for example here.
  • The AFGH blog also features a few very interesting blog posts on the NCD summit and side-events; see for example here.
  • Sarah Boseley explains why new drugs for cancer were not on the UN agenda.

Finally, we also want to draw your attention to this article in Nature News that emphasizes the decline of the NCD mortality rate in various countries, in spite of all the talk of NCD ‘epidemic’.

Global Fund

7.   GFO newsletter 158

A High Level Panel has recommended in its report that the Global Fund make some major changes in its structure and working methods. The report is full of strong, clear and blunt opinions. The Global Fund Observer gives an excellent overview of the (many) recommendations.


The website for the report:

The report itself (PDF 1,6 MB 152 p)


Various people already commented on the content of the report and possible implications, for example CGD’s Savedoff and the Guardian’s Sarah Boseley.


We encourage people from the South to react on this report that other stakeholders might use to bash the global fund. Comment online or by email.

Health Policy & financing

8.   Global Health Policynet  – Chasing the MDG cheese

Andrew Harmer;

Harmer opines on the post 2015 MDG agenda (for example on how the EC already tries to frame it).

9.   Health Affairs – Response on Soeters – Bart Jacobs

The PBF debate continues – check out this critical assessment (by Bart Jacobs and Isidore Sieleunou) of an article on PBF in Congo, by Soeters et al. (We can’t wait for Soeters’ reaction J )

10.   KFF – Senate Committee Approves FY12 Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill

Some news from the US Congress: a Senate Committee approved the FY 12 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, with $7.9 billion for Global Health Programs (i.e. $810.5 million below the request of the Obama Administration and $75.69 million above the FY11 level).


The World Bank has a new blog on Health and Development, with an emphasis on health systems.


Women and Child Health

11.   Financial Times – UN expands mother and child programme

Anjli Raval, Gwen Robinson and Andrew Jack;

In the Financial Times, Raval and colleagues commented on the ‘one year progress’ event of the ‘Every Woman Every Child’ initiative of Ban Ki Moon. They report that commitments have increased as compared to the launch of the initiative last year, and hope that the accountability commission will keep its promise of tracking commitments.


In related news, Merck announced a 10-Year $500 Million effort to support MDG5. Let’s see how this pharmaceutical company will fit in the Global Health landscape. The company announced that “Merck for Mothers” will focus on the two leading causes of maternal mortality (excessive and uncontrolled bleeding after childbirth, known as post-partum hemorrhage, and life-threatening high blood pressure during pregnancy, known as preeclampsia). Remarkably – and perhaps courageously, given the current US environment – they also want to include family planning.

12.   Lancet – Comment on early childhood development

Anthony Lake;

Anthony Lake, UNICEF’s Executive Director, comments on two just released Lancet papers. He argues the papers by Walker et al. and Engle et al. provide evidence for increased investments in early childhood.

13.   Lancet – Keeping women’s and children’s health at the forefront

Rebecca Affolder ;

In the Lancet, Rebecca Affolder, from the Executive Office of the (UN) Secretary-General, comments on the progress of the Every Woman Every Child initiative. She highlights why she thinks there is hope, which recent changes are worth sustaining like the IHP+, the commitment on reproductive health rights in Africa and the progress in HIV, Malaria, TB and Vaccine areas.


A Lancet editorial also argues that more attention should be paid to gender, with an eye on achieving MDG 4 and 5 for example. “New reports by UNICEF and the World Bank should draw renewed attention to MDG 3: to promote gender equality and empower women.

14.   Lancet (Comment) – Grappling with uncertainties along the MDG trail

Peter Byass, Wendy J Graham;

Byass and Graham comment on the updated estimates produced by Rafael Lozano and colleagues, all part of Murray’s IHME crew. They just published an update of their 2010 global estimates of maternal and child mortality in The Lancet. “Doing so clearly represents good practice from scientific and methodological perspectives. But it also raises important questions about the effect on end users of repeatedly publishing subtly different estimates, all of which are unavoidably built on data that incorporate major numerical and conceptual uncertainties.


15.   Plos – Cost-Effectiveness of Early Versus Standard Antiretroviral Therapy in HIV-Infected Adults in Haiti

Serena P. Koenig, Heejung Bang, Patrice Severe et al.;

In a cost-effectiveness study, Schackman and colleagues compare early versus standard ART for HIV in Haiti and reveal that the new WHO guidelines for early ART initiation can be cost-effective in resource-poor settings.


16.   BMJ – Gains in malaria control will be lost if funding stalls

Nigel Hawkes;

Recent successes in controlling malaria in Africa could be put at risk if the funding for control programmes is not maintained, a new analysis shows.

17.   NEJM – The Threat of Artemisinin-Resistant Malaria

An NEJM perspective examines the (very real) threat of artemisinin-resistant malaria.

18.   Lancet (editorial) – Malaria: control vs elimination vs eradication

Editors from The Lancet take the opportunity of the presentation of the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award to Chinese pharmacologist Tu Youyou to explore the challenges ahead in malaria control: resistance and donor fads to mention two extreme ones, but there are more. There is a need for “creativity, innovation, and determination” for the malaria community to succeed during the next decade.

Aid & Development

19.   CGD – The Future of U.S. Aid Reform: Rhetoric, Reality, and Recommendations

Connie Veillette;

CGD’s Connie Veillette reckons shrinking budgets do not necessarily mean the end of USAID reform.


Meanwhile, the debate on MDG+ and the future of aid continues.


  • Owen Barder chipped in this week, with an account of a WB meeting in London. The idea of  postmodern ‘posses’ sounds interesting, and Barder’s own ideas on the future of aid (at the end of his post) are incisive as well.
  • ODI also published an opinion (by Claire Melamed) on MDG+.


As always, the Guardian’s Poverty Matters blog featured a number of interesting reads. For example, Bill Gates seems to back the FTT ! Excellent news, so Max Lawson rightly said ‘the game is on’. Lawson reckons we could have a Robin Hood Tax within two months… (let’s wait to see what the financial world looks like in two months, after another meltdown).


Finally, we urge you to take a look at the (new) Broker’s Busan High Level Forum blog.

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