IHP news #513 (March 15, 2019)

Global health policy news from Nairobi, Accra, Addis, New York, Geneva, Seattle, London … (and the journals)

By on March 15, 2019



Dear Colleagues,

This was once again a busy week, and not just in the UK parliament. In Nairobi, the 4th session of the UN Environment Assembly  took place. The meeting started in a very sad way for the reasons you know, but also touched upon global health/planetary health themes ( with the report GEO6, ‘Healthy Planet, Healthy People’, but also discussions starting on the governance of geoengineering). Today the Global Climate Strike for Future happens  all over the globe, while it seems we’re on the verge of irreversible warming.   Other highlights from this week include  the AfHEA conference in Accra, themed ‘Securing PHC for all: the foundation for making progress on UHC in Africa’;  a global health security meeting in Addis Ababa to discuss how to enable national public-health institutions to keep emerging and re-emerging infectious disease in check; a brand new WHO global influenza strategy;  important discussions on global tax reform (taking place at the OECD) and access to medicines;  new Lancet (Global Health) publications on adolescent & mid-childhood  health trends, C-sections in Africa   and the link between democracy and adult health  (I have a hunch the last word hasn’t been said on this…);  a new (worrying) UNAIDS report; dr. Tedros expressed cautious optimism on the Ebola DRC outbreak; experts & the Lancet assess the WHO reform announced last week. And oh yeah, in between tweeting, watching ‘Fox & Friends’ & other industrious ‘Executive Time’, Trump also proposed a new – trademark horrific/cruel – budget, and not just for global health.

We also learnt this week about BirthStrikers (a movement of women linked to ‘Extinction Rebellion’, who have decided not to procreate in response to the coming ‘climate breakdown and civilisation collapse’, conveying in this way the urgency of the situation). I guess a male equivalent for such movement would be to never ever watch Premier League/Champions League football again 😊.  At an ITM seminar we heard from a colleague who just returned from the 2019 CROI conference (Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections) in Seattle about the increasing “condom crisis” in many countries’ HIV prevention, and the need for more collaboration between the HIV prevention & SRHR communities. Maybe it’ll happen at the Nairobi summit on ICPD25 in November, 25 years after Cairo?

On a side note, earlier this week, a really informative and entertaining Longread in the Guardian,  What animals can teach us about politics   by Frans de Waal, (again) hammered home the message that human beings are a hierarchical species, when push comes to shove. As he put it, “…the twin driving forces behind human politics [are] leaders’ lust for power and followers’ hankering for leadership. Like most primates, we are a hierarchical species, so why do we try to hide it from ourselves?”  Exactly. Even if not fully comparable, there’s so much we can learn from our little (& big) brothers & sisters in the forest, so perhaps we shouldn’t just rely on bottom-up initiatives, civil society movements & technocratic recipes to try to tackle the many wicked challenges of this century, but also push (and require from) our leaders at all levels to be real “role models” and thus ‘lead’, whether it’s on planetary health (Kim Jong-un might be on to something, with his preference for trains), the condom crisis ( I leave it up to your imagination what that might imply for ads featuring Putin, Trump, Xi et al), or the NCD, AMR & gender equity battles.  Sadly, the current crop of wicked leaders, in democracies and non-democracies alike, also tells you something about our species.  

Enjoy your reading.

Kristof Decoster



(you find the pdf of the full newsletter here: IHPn513 )

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