IHP news #406

  • Highlights of the week
  • Zika
  • Global Health Events
  • Global governance of health
  • UHC
  • Planetary health
  • infectious diseases & NTDs
  • NCDs
  • SR/Mat/neonatal & child health
  • Access to medicines
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  • Miscellaneous
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Global health’s tricky waltz with the Trump administration

By on February 17, 2017   Dear Colleagues,

The  Munich Security conference (17-19 Feb) pays some attention to global health security this year (thanks to Chatham House fellows), but the reverse is also true. Global health observers and stakeholders are more and more worried about the ‘Post-Truth, Post-West, Post-Order’ world the 2017 Munich  security  report – with a tad of exaggeration perhaps – describes. Laurie Garret didn’t mince words in her global health policy newsletter last weekend, describing  a dire future for globalization, global health and global public goods in general.  She has a strong case. I enjoy reading Laurie in the morning, after a strong cup of coffee, but the night owls among you should probably savor Laurie late at night with a glass of whiskey. And then doze off, pondering the next global health apocalypse.

More in general, as a Belgian historian – aptly – wrote this week, suddenly everyone seems to be calling historians, trying to get some more insight into the question, “Is The Donald a potential Adolf or not?”. Most historians, on the other hand, reckon that people should perhaps be more concerned about the broader trends in the world that seem so conducive to the rise of people like Trump, Le Pen, Orban and others. Global trends that, yes, ring more than one historian’s bell, he admitted. Although historians are divided into camps (when it comes to seeing mostly parallels or differences with the 30s), they virtually all agree on one thing: all the lights are  – and this cannot be a coincidence J  – on orange.

Complexity fatigue” is one of the explanations for the current global mess,  Bill Below (OECD) argued earlier this week: “…Today, the world seems to be suffering from complexity fatigue, whose symptoms are a longing for simple answers and a world free of interdependencies, with clear good guys and bad guys and brash, unyielding voices that ‘tell it like it is’, a world with lines drawn, walls built and borders closed….” (Complexity fatigue sounds like a rather promising disorder for wonkish health policy & systems researchers too, if you ask me). 

Meanwhile, Bill & Melinda Gates (reasonably “good guys” in our opinion, certainly against the new US “benchmark” ) positioned themselves a bit clearer versus the Trump administration in their annual letter and some carefully chosen media interviews. Although many eyes are still on the WHO DG election and candidates, the three shortlisted candidates to replace the Global Fund’s Mark Dybul also leaked out this week. Again, their stance versus Trump and vice versa is already causing some worries in certain Geneva corridors and beyond. 

On a lighter note, then:  last week, Manoj Pati pointed out how gender related sessions still tend to be ignored by men, recalling a session at the HSR symposium in Vancouver. We hope far more men showed up at the  launch of the UCL Centre for Gender & Global Health (16 Feb) in London this week. We bet that was the case. Still, around the same time a number of male global health policy scholars were heading for Heidelberg to discuss governance & other  (at least in the previous century) “malish” sounding issues at a seminar themed “Health for all by the year 2030 ?” 

The aim of the (still ongoing) seminar in Heidelberg (16-17 Feb) is “to explore in a multi-disciplinary way what it takes to achieve “health for all by the year 2030” in terms of global advocacy networks, domestic and international financing, and accountability mechanisms.” It all sounds dazzlingly interesting, and the question mark looks rightly cautious too, but we figure a few more women among the keynote speakers (and thus a truly “multi-gender” seminar) would have helped to boost the likelihood of indeed reaching “Health for All by 2030”!   


In short, there is no place for gender silos in global health in the 21st century, and certainly not in the week of Valentine J!  


In this week’s Featured article, Mandira Kala (Head of Research at PRS Legislative Research, Delhi) reflects on a bill to make changes to the Maternity Benefits Act in India. The bill is scheduled for debate in India in the coming weeks.

Enjoy your reading.

The editorial team





(PS: you find the pdf-version of the newsletter here: IHPn406 )

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