Dear Colleagues,


Early this week, it emerged that four big publishers had cut access to journals through the Health InterNetwork for Access to Research Initiative (HINARI), in Bangladesh. Apparently other low-income countries had already been affected by similar measures. This week we include a few pieces from the Lancet on this ongoing story.


Tunisia and Sudan still received a fair amount of the world’s attention this week. It still amazes me to see how quickly Switzerland manages to return money from dictators once they are ousted. In Sudan, the South voted for independence, according to preliminary results. The bigger story in the US was probably the fact that George Clooney contracted malaria over there.


Hu Jintao stole the limelight this week, with a state visit to the US. We won’t go into the semantic discussion on human rights, US style versus Chinese style, and Hu Jintao’s (misinterpreted?) answers to questions on the topic. Let’s remain polite and just say that the two countries can both learn a lot from each other when it comes to human rights. The two statesmen discussed a number of high-profile issues. In addition, a new public-private health care partnership was launched, which aims to foster cooperation in research, training and regulation, as well as expand access to health care services in China. In related news, the Economist has some stories on the likely impact of Chinese frugal innovations in medical technology on Western health care in this week’s issue.


Enjoy your reading.


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



WHO’s Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative has provided free journal access to low-income countries since 2002. Elsevier, publisher of The Lancet journals, along with other publishers had recently decided to withdraw access rights to Bangladesh, a country deemed in most need of free access. Elsevier has now reinstated access while alternative plans are developed. The Lancet presents the debate about developing countries’ free access in several pieces.


1.Lancet (Comment) – Big publishers cut access to journals in poor countries

Tracy Pérez Koehlmoos, Richard Smith;

Koehlmoos and Smith comment on the Hinari news, show what the idea behind Hinari was and what its impact has been until now for low-income countries.

2.Lancet (Editorial) – Bad decisions for global health

A Lancet editorial wants HINARI to focus on the 42 ‘low human development’ countries.

3.Lancet (Correspondence) – Elsevier statement on Research4Life

Alicia Wise ;

Elsevier gives their version of what happened in Bangladesh, and how they have tried to make up for it.


In a blog post on the Plos blog ‘Speaking of Medicine’, Virginia Barbour stressed that the only way forward is open access. 


Global Health Policy and financing

4.International Journal of Health Services – International Monetary Fund and Aid Displacement

David Stuckler , Sanjay Basu , Martin McKee;,5,13;journal,1,161;linkingpublicationresults,1:300313,1

The authors wonder whether IMF macroeconomic policies could cause the displacement of health aid. This article evaluates whether aid displacement was greater when countries undertook a new borrowing program from the IMF between 1996 and 2006. The authors sketch some limits of their analysis though.

A slightly agitated Amanda Glassman comments on the article on the CGD website.

5.Journal of Health Law and Policy – Emerging and Transitioning countries’ role in global health

Jennifer Prah Ruger & Nora Y. Ng;

This article focuses on the potentially diverse role of emerging and transitioning countries as actors in global health.


6.KFF – RTS,S Offers 46 Percent Protection Against Malaria For At Least 15 Months After Vaccination, Study Finds

A Phase II trial published Friday in Lancet Infectious Diseases has shown that RTS,S, the experimental malaria vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline provides African children with some long-lasting protection against malaria.


A Comment in the Lancet Infectious diseases reflects on the results of the trial:


7.Reuters – RPT-WHO over-extended, not performing well enough-chief

The WHO is not performing well enough across the board because it is over-extended and needs to trim the scope of its operations, Margaret Chan said to the executive board of the WHO.


In related news, WHO members showed dismay at the delay in setting up the counterfeit medicines group. Normally this group should report back to the members in four months.


8.Lancet – Has artemisinin resistance spread already?

A Lancet editorial wonders whether artemisinin resistance has already spread. In 44 countries, urgent monitoring is necessary.


9.Lancet – Checking for plagiarism, duplicate publication, and text recycling

Sabine Kleinert, on behalf of the editors of all Lancet journals;

The Lancet journals have decided to start using ‘checking plagiarism’ tools for all Seminars, Series, Reviews, and other non-research material that they are interested in publishing.

10.    Lancet (Correspondence) – Disseminating Japan’s immunisation policy to the world

Naoko Murashige, Tomoko Matsumura, Kami Masahiro;

The authors are concerned by the intention to disseminate Japan’s immunisation experiences and knowledge in a replicable manner. It remains to be seen whether Japan’s immunisation policy can gain global consensus.


11.    Human Resources for Health – Reflections on the ethics of recruiting foreign-trained human resources for health

Vivien Runnels, Ronald Labonte  and Corinne Packer;

The authors focus on actual recruitment practices in Canada.


This week, the Guardian also featured several interesting articles on the Health Workforce crisis, in association with the Global Health Workforce Alliance. The crisis is most felt in Sub-Saharan Africa, but is in essence a global crisis, according to Sarah Boseley.


You might also want to check out the profiles of the House Republicans that will be key to global health funding in the coming years.


Finally, we would like to draw your attention to some global health resources that are either new or that we were not aware of until now, like the monthly Health Diplomacy Monitor – this month with an article on the slightly increased attention for health in the G20 – and a new online International data center (created by the Guttmacher institute) on reproductive health.



12.    JAMA (Commentary) – Ethical Allocation of Preexposure HIV Prophylaxis

Lawrence O. Gostin; Susan C. Kim;

The authors focus on some ethical issues raised by preexposure prophylaxis.

13.    Plos (Perspective) – A Simple Novel Method for Determining Mortality Rates in HIV Treatment Programs Worldwide

Gregory P. Bisson;

This perspective discusses a new study by Egger et al. in Plos. Egger et al. present a nomogram and a web-based calculator to correct estimates of program-level mortality for loss to follow-up, for use in antiretroviral treatment programs.


For the first time in more than a decade, the WHO has issued new guidelines for preventing TB in HIV-infected individuals in resource-constrained settings.


On her global health blog, Sarah Boseley is worried about the upcoming trade deal between the EU and India. The Indian prime minister’s office is now thought to be on the brink of sealing a trade deal with the EU, and things don’t look good for generic manufacturers and their beneficiaries in SSA. At least according to the rumor mill.


14.    Lancet – Discrimination against people with HIV persists in China

Talha Khan Burki;

China has been praised in the past for addressing stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS. But a new report shows that the country actually has a long way to go on this issue. Talha Khan Burki reports.




This week, the Guardian Poverty Matters blog featured again lots of interesting articles. Check out for example:


15.    Guardian – US development agency to take inspiration from venture capitalists

Head of USAid, Rajiv Shah, says the agency will become “more business-like” in a bid to cut costs and shore up US support for development reforms.


Other articles dealt with Clinton’s feminist foreign policy, and South Africa’s new aid agency – which confirmed that we are entering an era where it seems normal to give aid as well as receive it.  


You might also want to have a look on the ODI website, for a document on the design challenges of the green climate fund.


Emerging Voices

16.    Lancet – Good governance in health care – the Karnataka experience

Hanumappa Sudarshan, NS Prashanth;

Emerging Voice NS Prashanth was involved in this Comment for the Lancet series on UHC in India. We know him as an affable guy, but he minces no words here.

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