Dear Colleagues,

By now, the Libya intervention has sparked a lot of commotion everywhere in the world. Some people who have thought long and hard about  interventions like these, such as Michael Walzer, don’t think the intervention is justified. But many others think otherwise. As for my humble opinion, I’m afraid this is “as good as it gets”, in the murky world of global politics, if you want to build a moral case for a military intervention, based on the Responsibility to Protect. And if you really want to spend the ridiculous amount of 1 trillion dollar – more than Australia’s GDP (!) – on a fighter plane like the F35, you might as well sometimes use your defense for a worthy cause. But feel free to think otherwise. We are well aware the situation is complex and civil war is not far away. Nevertheless, we hope the military intervention will soon yield results. And as far as we are concerned, Khaddafi himself would better sooner rather than later start to build his case for Den Hague. What better way for him to prove that Western leaders have been in this together with him, for decades… ?

Related to the events in the Middle East, we would like to refer to a viewpoint by our colleague Jean-Pierre Unger, who reacted to our recent newsletter coverage of events in the region. Please check it out on our blog, as he makes a few very valid points. Feel free to follow suit, and react to us, if you feel like it.

Money is tight in the US and the western world in general, at least when it comes to foreign aid, it seems. Everybody in the global health community is thus following the budget discussions in the US Congress with rising concern. Some people even think foreign aid should  – strategically – fall under defence (as this department seems ringfenced by Tea Party and other GOP politicians for less than mysterious reasons). We don’t agree. It’s bad enough that we have to count on Pentagon officials to defend foreign aid as being essential to national security, as a sort of desperate last attempt to prevent massive cuts. Meanwhile, the wealthy twins Gates & Buffet went to India for their Giving Pledge campaign. No doubt, Charles Kenny’s reframing of the aid narrative will inspire them in their quest for money.

Finally, we also want to draw your attention to two upcoming and strongly recommended conferences. The CERDI conference on health financing in developing and emerging countries is scheduled for 12-13/5/2011, in Clermont-Ferrand, France (see  As a pre-event, the “Incentives for Health Provider Performance Network” will organise its 3rd international conference on 11/5/2011.  Half of the IHPPN conference will be dedicated to Performance-Based Aid. Global experts from America, Europe and Africa will attend. For more info, visit

The Health System Reform in Asia conference will take place in Hongkong (9  – 12 December 2011). This is a new and interdisciplinary conference focusing on the health system reforms Asian countries have adopted, or are considering, during rapid economic, social, demographic and epidemiologic change in the region.  You can submit abstracts until June 10th.

Enjoy your reading.

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


1.   World report on MDR and XDR TB

On World TB Day, WHO, the Global Fund and the Stop TB Partnership called on world leaders to step up their commitment and contributions to meet the goal of diagnosing and treating one million people with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) between 2011 and 2015. WHO released a report, “Towards universal access to diagnosis and treatment of MDR-TB and XDR-TB by 2015”, which presents progress in the MDR-TB response in the countries with the highest burden of drug-resistant TB.

2.   Financial Times – Fight needs money and leadership

Andrew Jack;

To mark the occasion of World TB Day, the Financial Times published a series of stories on TB worldwide. In this newsletter, we include an analysis by Andrew Jack, who writes that the TB fight needs both money and leadership. Financial austerity is a broad threat to progress, with cuts in healthcare budgets and international donor support. In a guest column in the same series, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to Stop TB, Jorge Sampaio, called on BRIC countries to “join together in a global initiative to galvanise action and tackle TB and MDR-TB head-on.”

On the Science Speaks website, Ernesto Jaramillo, Paul Nunn and Mario Raviglione of the Stop TB Department at the WHO discuss WHO’s new report.

Attached you find a sobering patient perspective on global health policy events like ‘World TB day’.  We surely hope you read it.


3.   Humanosphere – Taking the measure of global health: Five lessons learned

Tom Paulson;

Humanosphere’s Tom Paulson attended the Global Health Metrics and Evaluation conference in Seattle last week, and learned five things. In his blog post, he also refers to public health analyst Amanda Makulec’s post listing seven key ideas that came out of the global health metrics meeting.

In his weekly Offline article, an enthusiastic Richard Horton also commented on the conference. He wondered where the Europeans were, though.

4.   Karen Grepin –A trip to the inside of the Global Health Sausage Factory

Commenting on the GHME conference, Karen Grepin shares some of her ideas on the real value of global health estimates.

5.   CGD –From COP and MOP to OP: Are GHI Principles Finally Taking Shape?

Nandini Ooman;

Nandini Oomman went to an Aspen Institute event featuring Ethiopian Health Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and learnt that two key GHI principles—country ownership and integration—are taking shape in Ethiopia. In this blog post, she gives an overview of what she learned, lingering questions she has about the GHI principles, and suggestions for the GHI’s learning agenda.

6.   BMJ (Editorial) – The production of generic drugs in India

James Love;

Love reports on the ongoing (and, needless to say, secretive) talks between the EU and India on patent protection and tries to highlight potential negative consequences for access to drugs if such an agreement were signed.

7.   Bilaterals – UN Special Raporteur on right to health asked to intervene in TPP Trade negotiation


Eleven public interest advocacy groups and three law professors have submitted a petition to Anand Grover, the Special Rapporteur for the UN, on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health. The Special Rapporteur has been asked to intervene in a new regional trade agreement named the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement.

8.   Globalization and Health – European health research and globalisation: is the public-private balance right?

Mark McCarthy;

European policy currently prioritises health research in support of industry. European institutions and national governments must also support research and innovation in health and social systems, and promote civil society participation, to meet the challenges of globalisation.

9.   TMIH (Viewpoint) – Men and antiretroviral therapy in Africa: our blind spot

Morna Cornell, James McIntyre, Landon Myer;

The authors of this viewpoint wonder why there is hardly any attention for gender inequity in accessing ARVs in most parts of Africa. Men are losing out. For once.

10.   The Lancet – Health care: an African solution

The Lancet ; Full Text

A Lancet editorial comments on the first annual symposium of the Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) in Johannesburg and on the inaugural meeting of the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Their foundation is promising news for the search for African solutions for African health-care delivery.

In related HRH news, the WHO announced the launch of a web-based publichearing

(from 21 March to 17 April 2011) on the draft guidelines for monitoring the implementation of the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel (“the Guidelines”). WHO invites you to contribute to this public hearing on the draft Guidelines.


11.   Columbia Journalism review – Hiding the real Africa – why NGOs prefer bad news

US journalism usually portrays Africa as a continent in a rather negative way, or worse, as “a continent of unending horrors”, so to speak.  Karen Rothmyer claims NGOs are much to blame for this.

The Dutch government has agreed to scale back the number of countries receiving direct bilateral development aid (from 33 to 15). Parliament still has to approve the plans.

On the website, Andrew Harmer comments on the DFID Report Changing Lives, Delivering Results. He sees a number of positive aspects, but also some negatives: “ The UK’s unhealthy foreign policy; its less than healthy economic ideas about development; and some of its frankly bizarre recommendations for a safer and, ultimately, healthier world.”

Paul Collier suggests five relatively straightforward  actions that Europe (or the EC) can take for Africa.

And on Business Day, IMF official Mark Plant sketches what African governments could and should do to raise government revenue.

Finally, on the Guardian’s ‘Poverty Matters’ blog, Jonathan Glennie stresses

we need to place equality and redistribution at the heart of a new development paradigm.

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