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Dear Colleagues,

This week’s guest editorial is written by our colleague Evelyne Depoortere. A few days before a WHO Executive Board meeting, she summarizes an internal discussion at ITM on the ongoing WHO reform.

Editorial – Reforms at WHO
At the 2011 World Health Assembly, the director-general of the WHO presented Read the rest of this editorial

Enjoy your reading.

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


1. Lancet (editorial) – WHO and Margaret Chan: the next 5 years

The Lancet assesses Chan’s first term and puts forward the issues that need to be addressed in a (very likely) second term.

2. Lancet (online) – Action to preserve WHO’s core functions cannot wait for organisational reform

Mohga M Kamal-Yanni ;

Meanwhile the WHO’s predicament continues. This Oxfam letter in the Lancet points out that the WHO Medicines Department  is a sobering illustration of the consequences of failing to protect core functions of the organisation. Sarah Boseley already dedicated a blog post to this worrying news.

Health policy and financing

3. SHSOP Working paper 4 – Disease control programs contribution to Health System Strengthening: Good practices and new approaches for scale-up

Tewodros Bekele et al.;

This new Working Paper presents the findings of a country study conducted by the Federal Ministry of Health, Ethiopia and ITM  between February and June 2011. The country study is based on the concept noteHow can Disease Control Programs contribute to Health Systems Strengthening in Sub-Saharan Africa?’ commissioned by the World Bank. The working paper aims at identifying good practices in terms of disease control programme contributions to health system strengthening and country priority programmes in Ethiopia. It shows how such insights can be scaled up to contribute to overall health system strengthening and outlines ways forward.

4. CGD (brief) – Global Health and the New Bottom Billion: How Funders Should Respond to Shifts in Global Poverty and Disease Burden

Amanda Glassman et al.;

While many developing countries already left the category of low income countries (or will do so soon), the global number of poor didn’t change much if you exclude China. By focusing aid on the remaining LICs the donors ignore most of the poor, is the message from this CGD Brief. The authors discuss where Global Health agencies like GAVI and the GF should go from here.

Speaking of the GF, there was again a small media “event” last week, involving Carla Bruni and Marianne. We trust you know what we’re referring to. Not sure whether the news is related to the upcoming presidential elections in France. Probably not.

The Global Fund Observer also published a new issue this week. There’s a news item

on the excellent transparency score of the GF, for example, in the report from ‘Publish what you Fund’.

5. Economist – Battling borderless bugs

Western and emerging-market drug firms are invading each other’s turf. The distinction between innovative rich-world drug firms and emerging-market copycats is increasingly a thing of the past.

6. Science Speaks – Totally drug resistant TB strain turns up in patients in India

By Meredith Mazzotta;

Some good and bad news from India this week. First the worrying news: Mumbai doctors reported a strain of tuberculosis that is resistant to all first- and second-line drugs used to treat the bacterial infection.

And then the good news : India appears to have interrupted wild poliovirus transmission, completing one year without polio since its last case, in a 2-year-old girl in the state of West Bengal, on 13 January 2011. A major achievement, as the country was once the world’s epicenter of polio.

7. Psihealthylives – Questions about ARVs as HIV prevention

In the ongoing debate on ARV as prevention, the JH blog PSI summarizes an article by USAID’s Dr. James D Shelton in Science (end of 2011). He highlights limits to the strategy.

8. New blog – UHC forward

Results4Development launched UHC Forward, a comprehensive platform that consolidates information related to universal health coverage (UHC) reforms in low- and middle- income countries from hundreds of sources into a one-stop portal. The platform also features a blog on UHC.

There are already blog posts by RobertYates, who stresses that public financing is the key to UHC, and by Victoria Fan & Robert Marten(cross-posted on the CGD Global Health Policy blog), who emphasize the importance of efficiency gains to get to UHC.  More money is flowing to health in growing economies. This money should be used  wisely. If not, it might actually benefit the providers instead of the people.

9. Plos – Trends in Compulsory Licensing of Pharmaceuticals Since the Doha Declaration: A Database Analysis

Reed Beall & Randall Kuhn;

Reed Beall and Randall Kuhn describe their analysis of the use of compulsory licenses for pharmaceutical products by World Trade Organization members since 1995.

10. Irin Plus – RWANDA: Aiming towards two million medical male circumcisions

Some national news then, from African countries. In Rwanda, male circumcision is being scaled up fast. The country attempts to reach its goal of medically circumcising 50 percent of men by June 2013 as part of HIV prevention efforts.

In Uganda, the government plans an overhaul of the health sector. A major infrastructure development project is scheduled, that will double the bed capacity of regional referral hospitals, and erect for each doctor a three-bed-roomed house. Apparently the World Bank committed quite some money.

As for Ethiopia, we would like to draw your attention to this article. Go and see why.

11. – Moving beyond aid to set the global health agenda

Beverly Peterson Stearns;
An international meeting aims to shake up donor − recipient relations in a quest for more enduring health gains, reports Beverly Petersen Stearns. The subtitle of Forum 2012, the successor to the conferences organised by the former Global Forum for Health Research, will be ‘Beyond Aid’. The meeting in Cape Town (24–26 April) will consider a funding model in which poor countries develop their own contracts and partnerships, and use their own resources ― and how donors can support that model rather than just provide development aid.

12. Marketwatch (WSJ) – Major Campaign Launched to Eliminate Seven Diseases by 2020

Launched earlier this week, the END7 campaign is dedicated to eliminating seven major neglected tropical diseases as a public health threat to poor communities by the end of 2020.

13. Blog4globalhealth – UN Agencies Commit to Joint Action – A Potential Game Changer for NCDs?

Greg Paton;

A UN-wide plan of action with buy-in and ownership from key UN agencies seems indispensable for the NCD response. This is no different from the Aids experience a decade ago. Greg Paton reports on a meeting in December whereby representatives from various UN agencies met in New York to discuss UN wide collaboration on NCDs.

In the UN Chronicle, Ilona Kickbush is also in a UN mood, it appears.

14. NEJM – The Fate of Health Care Reform — What to Expect in 2012

David K. Jones;

The fate of the ACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), aka “Obamacare”, depends on the outcome of four key events in 2012, argues Jones.

Meanwhile, the Republican primaries are already settled, if we can believe the pundits. That is probably a good thing. If a guy like Newt Gingrich is turning into a OWS fan, it’s probably better to end the contest, before more damage to the Republican brand is being done.

On the Global Health Governance blog, David Fidler dwelled on the global health credentials of some of the candidates (and Rick Santorum in particular).  But by now, only one candidate seems relevant anymore. That is, if Stephen Colbert doesn’t join the race.

15. Dialogue 4 Health Blog – Promoting Frontline Health Workers Helps in Disease Prevention

Jeff Meer;

Meer comments on a brand new initiative, the Frontline Health Workers Coalition. A new and diverse coalition of 15 major global health organizations – including the Gates Foundation, Save the Children, and World Vision – is calling on the US government for more strategic investment in frontline health workers in the developing world as the most cost-effective way to save the lives of mothers and children, address AIDS and other global health threats (and, especially for some of the GOP presidential hopefuls, help advance U.S. economic and strategic interests).

Development & Aid

16. IOB – Development cooperation with middle-income countries

Karel Verbeke & Robrecht Renard;

This working paper explores how development cooperation with middle-income countries differs from that with poorer countries, and suggests some considerations for differentiation of development cooperation approaches in the changing international development landscape.

Other relevant pieces this week included:

  • A lovely piece in the Guardian on high level corruption, fraud & governance problems in the West, by an African writer. Recommended reading for every OWS’er, trader and investment banker. Let’s see whether the West will manage to ‘fry the big fish’.
  • ODI’s Alison Evans wonderswhether uncertaintyis the only certainty for 2012. We bet it is.
  • On Project Syndicate, Norway’s Minister for Development and Environment Erik Solheim stresses that aid is not enough to reach the MDGs. He is shocked that the environment and development communities are still operating separately from each other, by and large. The wider politics of poverty must be placed at the top of the international agenda, along with the three factors most critical to development: climate, conflict, and capital.
  • Climate change: in the run-up to the Rio+20 conference, Zakri Abdul Hamid says  the proposed UN World Environment Organisation is badly needed to give poor countries a strong voice in green policy (on (Let’s hope it will be funded better than WHO.) The zero draft  of the outcome document of Rio+20 is already online. The CGD website also had a post on the new USAID strategy for climate change and development.
  • Global Dashboard featured this post on ‘what can South-East Asia teach Africa about development?’
  • However, quite a few African countries are in a bullish mood these days, see for example thisIPS piece  – “Africa begins to rise above aid”.

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