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This week the Lancet pays a lot of attention to maternal and child health. In an editorial the journal argues that gender equity is the key to maternal and child health. Good to keep in mind now that the world is gearing up for many MCH related summits. Yesterday, in the run-up to the Canada G8 and G20 events, David Cameron had a chat with Harper on the maternal mortality issue. He wants a G8 target of saving three million more lives by 2015.


In < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Uganda, Ban Ki Moon called for countries in Africa to invest 15 % of their national budgets in HIV/AIDS programs. Not sure the Ministries of Finance will agree, as they already balked at the Abuja target (15 % for health) a couple of weeks ago.


And some people at the WHO probably need a strong cup of coffee this morning. BMJ reports on the investigation done jointly by the journal and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Their conclusion?  Scientists advising the World Health Organisation on pandemic flu planning did paid work for pharmaceutical firms who stood to gain from the guidance these scientists were preparing”. Fiona Godlee, BMJ’s editor in chief  says it’s now up to WHO to restore its credibility. If not, a ‘flu gate’ could haunt the global health community for years.


Enjoy your reading.


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

Maternal Neonatal and Child survival

1. Lancet – The continuing invisibility of women and children

Richard Horton; Full Text

Horton says that in spite of the undeniable recent momentum towards maternal and children’s health, women and children still largely remain invisible. He sees ten reasons for this situation.

2. Lancet – Momentum, mandates, and money: achieving health MDGs

Ann Starrs, Rotimi Sankore; Full Text

Starrs and Sankore give a nice overview of the current funding situation for MNCH and the different proposals that are being launched. They argue for a global funding mechanism of which the mandate would specifically include reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health.  

3. Lancet – New modelled estimates of maternal mortality

Wendy J Graham, David A Braunholtz, Oona MR Campbell; Fulltext

Chris Murray’s reply; Full Text

As expected, the new maternal mortality data spark a lot of debate. This week, The Lancet features a number of reactions to the updated figures. We selected the one by Graham et al., who was involved in the peer review, and the authors’ reply (by Murray).

4. Lancet – Issue attention in global health: the case of newborn survival

Jeremy Shiffman; Full Text

In a fascinating account, Shiffman shows how newborn survival has attracted global attention over the last decade. No doubt, global health advocates can learn a lot from this viewpoint.

5. KFF – Canada Willing To Spend $1B On G8 Maternal, Child Health Initiative

Apparently, Canada is willing to spend 1 billion on its Maternal and Child Health initiative, that is, if other countries follow suit. On the CGD website, Nandini Oomman and Katherine Douglas  comment on this news. They hope the G20 will experiment more with the application of incentives and results–based development assistance. As long as it doesn’t harm recipient country ownership and country priorities, why not?

Global Health

6. World Economic Forum – discussion paper Piot et al. – on a new paradigm to ensure health for all

Peter Piot, David E. Bloom and Peter C. Smith;

At the World Economic Forum in Doha, Piot et al. launched a new paradigm to ensure health for all and address the new and old health challenges across different types of countries.

7. WHO Bulletin – Taskforce on Innovative International Financing for Health Systems: what next?

Mc Coy &  Brikci;

In the WHO Bulletin, Mc Coy and Brikci do not exactly mince words when commenting on the taskforce for innovative financing for health systems.  They also propose further actions for the international health community. In the same Bulletin issue, Fryatt and Mills are a lot more positive about the achievements of the Taskforce.

8. BMJ A moment of truth for global health

Richard Feachem, Gavin Yamey, Christina Schrade;

A BMJ editorial rightly assesses the current funding situation as one where the ‘golden window’ for global health has gone. Feachem et al. argue for a cross-cutting approach to meet the challenges of the global financial crisis, instead of the – probably more likely – silo advocacy approach.

9. IIGG – Challenges of global health governance

David P Fidler;

In a working paper (545K PDF), Fidler sketches the challenges of global health governance and what the US administration should do to improve global health governance.

10.    Lancet – Sharing public health data: necessary and now

The Lancet; Full Text

A Lancet editorial pleads for more data sharing in public health, but also points out that’s only part of the story. Researchers in low-income and middle-come countries typically face many predicaments.


11.    ODI Briefing Papers 60 – Economic growth and the MDGs

Claire Melamed, Kate Higgins and Andy Sumner;

Lots of news on the MDG front this week. An ODI briefing paper points out that growth is important for the MDGs, but governments should focus on how the benefits are distributed. Distribution is the key mechanism to translate growth into MDG progress.

On his blog, Easterly reckons Africa was (unintentionally) set up to fail on the MDGs.

In a Global Policy article, Todd Moss admits that the MDGs have their pluses (for example in terms of fundraising, or to focus the development community on outcomes), but also thinks they have a number of weaknesses. He suggests several ways to fix them.

And finally, Jeffrey Sachs thinks the past decade has shown that extreme poverty can be eliminated. Upbeat as ever, he reckons the MDGs could still be the decisive organizing principle for ending extreme poverty in our time, in a Scientific American opinion piece.

Innovations in health

12.    WHO Bulletin – Linking health to microfinance to reduce poverty

Leatherman and Dunford show some potential links between microfinance and health. Microfinance institutions could also deliver health-related services, and already do so in some settings.


Other innovative ideas emerged at an IDS meeting in Sussex, where experts argued for forging new partnerships with mobile phone companies, private consortia and the voluntary sector, in order to get to universal access to health care and meet the MDGs.

13.    The Price of a Cure? How Big Pharma Can Help Poverty-stricken Populations

In a recent presentation, Thomas Pogge outlined again his by now well-known market-based proposal, the Health Impact Fund (see IHPnews#56-7). The plan creates a structure of incentive payments to drug companies based on the impact a medicine actually has on global health outcomes.

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