Dear Colleagues,

The horrific pictures and stories from Libya dominated this week’s news. Colonel Qaddafi was always some character, but now he seems to have lost it completely. ‘Der Untergang’-style parodies are already popping up on the net, starring the president and his son, until (very) recently a “Young Global Leader”. Sadly, this is no arty German movie on World War II, but all too real, and happening right in front of our eyes. Crimes against humanity have been committed by the colonel over the past few weeks and are no doubt still going on. A friend of mine who lived in Libya at the beginning of the eighties told me Qaddafi used to be popular back then, and was doing fairly good work. That era is over now, it appears. So is this just another sad illustration of the ‘law of benevolent autocrats’ overstaying their time in power? It’s probably more complicated than that. Easterly has some interesting things to say on this issue of benevolent autocrats and our addiction to them. It’s a controversial issue, but in this we tend to side with Easterly. Many of you might think otherwise, for equally valid reasons.

In New York, the UN Commission on the Status of Women kicked off its annual meeting. Michelle Bachelet, the executive director of UN Women, highlighted the role of gender equality in country development, peace and security. And in a report released on Wednesday, nearly three quarters of women’s rights advocates say ending violence against women must be a top priority for U.N. Women. Yet, in Afghanistan, things look gloomy again.

Finally, we would like to draw your attention to the following monthly publication, the Health and Foreign Policy Bulletin, by the Norman Patterson School of International Health: it provides an overview of the latest research on global health. The Bulletin provides short summaries of peer-reviewed research papers, news items, and policy developments on ten major global health themes. Check it out!

Enjoy your reading.

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

Global Health Policy & Financing

1.Lancet – spending on neglected diseases

A Lancet editorial dwells on funding for research and development into neglected diseases: R&D funding increased to US$3·2 billion in 2009, up $239 million from 2008. However, basic research is being done anyhow; for many neglected diseases product development is a more urgent priority. Investment in product development partnerships that are performing well is crucial.

2.Lancet online – Treatment 2.0

Gottfried Hirnschall, Bernhard Schwartländer;

The authors report on the new strategy proposed by UNAIDS and WHO to tackle HIV infections in developing countries. “Treatment 2.0” is designed to maximise the efficiency and effectiveness of HIV treatment by focusing on five priorities: optimising drug regimens, advancing point-of-care and other simplified platforms for diagnosis and monitoring, reducing costs, adapting delivery systems, and mobilising communities.

3.TMIH – Global Fund financing of public–private mix approaches for delivery of tuberculosis care

S. S. Lal, Mukund Uplekar, Itamar Katz1 et al.;

Authors from the GFATM and WHO reviewed the Global Fund’s official documents and data to analyse the distribution, characteristics and budgets of Public-private mix approaches within Global Fund supported TB grants in recipient countries between 2003 and 2008.

4.Guardian – Social security is necessary and globally affordable, says UN

Claire Provost;

For developing countries, social security is essential to help them ‘grow with equity’, according a new UN report that surveys successful social protection programmes.

5.Global – A Reflection on Changes in Global Health

Bonnie Koenig;

This short but insightful analysis presents seven changes in global health over the last decades with some links to deepen your knowledge on these issues. There is for example a link to a piece on 42 extremely affordable global health innovations. ‘Innovation’ is exactly what an Economist Intelligence Unit report also advocates for healthcare in Asia. True, that’s pretty much what you would expect from the Economist.

6.European business review – Brazil’s Ascendance: The soft power role of global health diplomacy

Kelley Lee and Eduardo J. Gómez;

Recognising the complementarity of both hard and soft power in a globalizing world, the Lula Administration has actively enhanced the country’s leadership status through values, ideas and knowledge based on domestic experience and global aspiration. The realm of global health diplomacy has been a key component of this strategy.  Through its principled stance on ARVs, commitment to strong and effective tobacco control, and the provision of bilateral and multilateral aid, Brazil has earned widespread credibility among other emerging economies, as well as a broad spectrum of non-state actors.” 

7.Seattle Times – Does Gates funding of media taint objectivity?

Sandi Doughton and Kristi Heim;

Whether we like it or not, the Gates Foundation has also become a force in journalism. The foundation’s contributions to nonprofit and for-profit media have helped spur coverage of global health, development and education issues. Yet, some people worry that its growing support of media organizations blurs the line between journalism and advocacy.

8.Health Research Policy & Systems – Overcoming gaps to advance global health equity: a symposium on new directions for research

Julio Frenk and Lincoln Chen;

Twenty years after the Commission on Health Research for Development produced its report, Julio Frenk and Lincoln Chen report on a recent symposium that has looked into progress, opportunities and challenges for research since then.

9.Global Health Magazine – GAPS IN RESEARCH

Robert Eiss and Roger Glass;

This editorial from the new issue of the Global Health Magazine gives an interesting overview of global health research needs.

10.   Global Public Health – The influence of health knowledge in shaping political priorities: Examining HIV/AIDS knowledge and public opinion about global health and domestic policies 

Janet Okamoto; Sandra de Castro Buffington; Heather M. Cloum et al.;

People with greater HIV/AIDS knowledge tend to rate global health issues higher, which in turn affects ratings of more domestic health issues (in the US). This research has obvious implications for ways to gain support for implementation of public health policy through increasing health knowledge.

Speaking of the US, the Senate might be crucial in the coming weeks as it has to consider the massive cuts in global health spending for fiscal year (FY) 2011, which the House passed last week. The Senate will also be the key to any effort to increase or protect current funding for global health programs in FY 2012. In this blog post on Science Speaks, you find more information on the key senate leaders for global health. But some pundits think defense secretary Robert Gates will be decisive.

Aid effectiveness and development

11.   Lecture Nemat Shafik – The future of aid

Nemat Shafik;

Nemat Shafik, DFID’s permanent secretary, held a lecture in Italy at the end of 2010. She spoke about a triple revolution needed (or already taking place) in the world of aid. A “must-read”.

ODI also has a nice blog post on aid and how to engage in and with emerging powers.

A new Unicef report reveals how an invisible generation of adolescents have been overlooked and marginalised in development strategies. A more than timely report, one could say, given the events in North-Africa.


Owen Barder;

Yet another “must-read” from Owen Barder on the importance of aid transparency and the priorities for how it should be achieved. There is an 8 point-summary for the ones among you with little time.

Bill Gates is not among our readers, at least not that we are aware of it, but he must be a very busy man too. Yet, he will still have to find the time to try to find ways of raising cash for Africa in the coming months. That’s at least what Sarkozy has asked him to do.

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