Dear Colleagues,

This and next week, Copenhagen (or is it Hopenhagen) is the capital of the world, no doubt about that. Bombarded with climate scientific reports and alarming stories in the media, one could be forgiven to think otherwise, yet, other challenges than climate change remain. Yesterday was Human Rights Day, for example. Action for Global Health used the occasion to ask donors, national governments in low- and middle-income countries and international civil society to fulfil the universal right to health. A right, needless to say, that has remained largely rhetoric so far. This year’s Human Rights Day focused on non-discrimination.

Enjoy your reading.

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

Right to health

1.  AFGH – Right to Health on Human Rights Day

As the world marks Human Rights Day (10 December), Action for Global Health calls for more and urgent action by donors, national governments in low- and middle-income countries and international civil society to fulfil the universal right to health.


2. Lancet – Universal health coverage: access to what?

The Lancet ;

This editorial in the Lancet emphasizes that universal health coverage means health system strengthening and vice versa.

3. Universal coverage, beyond the numbers

Two weeks ago, the BeCause health conference was organized in Brussels (26 November). BeCause health refers to ‘the Belgian platform for international health’. We include a concept note on universal coverage from ITM, compiled by Bart Criel & Werner Soors, as well as a link to the Be Cause health conference materials.

Health Financing

4. The Tobin tax – a magicians’ trick?

Andy Guise ;

Andy Guise explores on the ‘Economic governance for health’ website what could be the motivation behind the sudden interest in a Tobin tax among the institutions and governments that run the global economy. He sees basically two options.


5. KFF – Washington Post, New York Times Examine PEPFAR

Both the Washington Post and the New York Times examined the new PEPFAR strategy earlier this week, KFF reports. “The Washington Post examines the Obama administration’s goal “to get the ’emergency’ out of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief” and integrate HIV/AIDS programs more into the health infrastructure of recipient countries….” “The New York Times examines reaction to the shifting focus of PEPFAR: “As the Obama administration slowly unveils its global AIDS plan, the drive to put more people on drugs is being scaled back as emphasis is shifted to prevention and to diseases that cost less to fight, including pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria and fatal birth complications.”

6. AFGH – “Aid for better health: are we learning about what works?”

The meeting held at the OEDC headquarters on 30 November on the findings of the interim report recently released by the “Task Team on Health as a Tracer Sector”, shed light on the key challenges faced by international aid effectiveness in the health sector.


7. Newsweek – Returns an Ancient Disease

Newsweek gives an update on the fight against tuberculosis, a disease that has made a comeback. Not just more money is needed, the current situation also necessitates a switch in global health priorities. “Western dollars have skewed global health priorities in favor of diseases with young victims, obvious solutions, or a good “Nobel Prize–-worthy” challenge. Tuberculosis has thrived by sidestepping any such attention–capturing snags. It’s old. It preys on societies’ most disenfranchised members. And having made an ally of the very air we breathe, it won’t be deterred by anything as simple as a condom or a bed net. In fact, experts say that more than any other disease, this 19th-century relic is exposing all the cracks in our -multibillion-dollar global health system.”


8. Intellectual property watch:  HIV/AIDS Treatment Access Policies: Emerging Incentives for Pro-Poor Changes to IP?

Daniele Dionisio ;

In an Intellectual Property Watch column, Daniele Dionisio, of the Italian Network for International Fight against AIDS, argues that controversial rules and practices by World Trade Organization, World Bank and International Monetary Fund are increasingly under pressure, and that new government policy choices and actors on the world chessboard are emerging. Taken together, all these changes could improve the current predicament of the millions of HIV infected people still in need of ARVs, he suggests.


9. Lancet – DART points the way for HIV treatment programmes

In this editorial, the Lancet comments on a just published study on clinical management of patients on ARV. This study is welcome as progress in the management of care is definitely needed to cope with the increasing number of people needing chronic ARV treatment.

American health care reform:

10. The Economist – Getting to 60<

The Economist now reckons the Senate is likely to pass a health bill, just like the House did a few weeks ago. Progress was made this week with respect to three thorny issues: the proposal for a government-run insurer (or “public option”), abortion and cost containment.

11. Lancet – World Report on US targets disease prevention in health reforms

Nellie Bristol ;

The Lancet features an article on the public health provisions in the current bills of House and Senate. These could also revolutionise the health system, Nellie Bristol muses.

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