IHP news 517: Highlights of the week

By on April 12, 2019

WHO Partners Forum


An inaugural two-day WHO Partners Forum took place in Stockholm this week and was co-hosted with the Government of Sweden.

Global leaders in health and development, representing the public sector, health partnerships and non-State actors, came together to launch a new era of collaboration and innovation around WHO’s resource needs. To meet the world’s most pressing health challenges, WHO, governments and global health leaders today called for improved partnerships and resourcing to support WHO’s mission to deliver care, services and protection for billions of people by 2023. Under the Organization’s Thirteenth General Program of Work (GPW13), WHO needs US$14.1 billion between now and 2023.

Organizers hoped the meeting would result in a shared understanding of how to strengthen partnerships and improve effective financing of WHO, with an emphasis on predictability and flexibility.

WHO Seeks To Strengthen Partnerships, Improve Financing For “Triple Billion” Targets


“Discussions at the forum also called upon member states and partners to increase flexible funding to enable WHO to be more agile in budgeting across the organisation, when implementing its five-year plan towards achieving its “triple billion” targets.”

“WHO’s investment case for the GPW13 estimates that its “projected income against the US$ 14.1 billion is US$ 4 billion, which includes income from annual dues and long-term pledges,” meaning that WHO has a projected funding gap of US$ 10.1 billion over the next 5 years. Raising the full US$ 14.1 billion “will help to save up to 30 million lives, add up to 100 million years of healthy living to the world’s population and add up to 4 per cent of economic growth in low and middle-income countries by 2023,” according to the investment case.”


WHO needs its partners to play their part by supporting it with more flexible and predictable funding that allows the organization to allocate resources more effectively and efficiently. Sweden is a proud supporter of WHO and the leading provider of flexible funds.

World Health Day


From healthier diets to access to medicines, an unusually broad array of issues were, directly or indirectly, included in this year’s World Health Day theme of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), reflecting the complexity associated with attaining a goal that has become a key ambition of global health.

U.N. News: ‘Health is a right, not a privilege’ says WHO chief on World Health Day
“The director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has marked World Health Day, which falls on Sunday, with a reiteration of the U.N.’s stance on health: that it is a fundamental human right, not a privilege. Speaking at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, during an event to launch the day, the WHO chief said that all people deserve access to health services, ‘when and where they need them, without financial hardship’…”

Also read: World Health Day 2019 Celebrates Health as a Human Right

Dr. Tedros said in the WHO’s World Health Day statement. “This is not an unattainable dream, nor will it require billions of dollars to implement. UHC is achievable, right here, right now, for all of us.”

See also: Nigerian Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole argues for a multi-sectoral approach for Nigeria to achieve UHC and SDGs by 2030.

World Bank & World Bank/IMF Spring meetings


World Bank’s Executive Directors select David Malpass as the 13th President of the World Bank Group


In World Bank debut, David Malpass looks to win over staff and critics


In general, people familiar with Malpass’ conversations in the lead up to his appointment said he offered some reassurance that, unlike his predecessor Jim Kim, who introduced sweeping and highly-disruptive reforms, he has no plans for a dramatic shakeup of the bank early in his tenure. “We appreciate his willingness to understand staff concerns and engage constructively with us,” Daniel Sellen, chair of the staff association, wrote to Devex.


“In his first day at the helm of the Washington-based institution, David Malpass said helping developing countries cope with global warming would remain central to the bank’s mission. Malpass also said there would be no change in the bank’s refusal to lend for new coal-fired power plants, despite Trump’s strong support for US coal producers. “Climate change is a key problem facing people,” Malpass said. “It presents specific problems and we are addressing them through adaptation and through meeting our climate change action plan. My expectation is that the bank continues the direction it has been pursuing in terms of those goals.””

“In addition to tackling the problems of climate change, Malpass said it was important that developing countries had robust private sectors and encouraged women to take a full role in the economy.”

Devex Opinion: 5 priorities for the World Bank’s new leader
by Masood Ahmed, The President of the Center for Global Development

“During his campaign, Malpass said some of the right things but was silent on other priorities for the World Bank. To win the support of all his 189 members, Malpass must now unambiguously endorse the bank’s role in helping the world meet five challenges”:

Africa’s development and integration into the world economy; helping emerging economies and middle income countries make the right development decisions and drive the global growth; target the people affected by fragility, conflict and violence; focusing on issues that go beyond borders, like preparing for the next pandemic or dealing with climate change etc. and lastly making sure that the bank in the development best practice debate of the 21st century.

World Bank pandemic facility ‘an embarrassing mistake,’ says former chief economist

Lawrence Summers, the World Bank’s former chief economist, slammed an initiative launched in 2016 that aimed to create an insurance market for pandemics, calling the facility “an embarrassing mistake” and a symptom of “financial goofiness” within the institution. … The World Bank needs to be squarely against financial goofiness in support of a worthy cause, and there’s a ton of that going around,” Summers said.“

During an event at the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C., where five former senior World Bank officials shared their views on what President David Malpass, who took office on Tuesday, should prioritize during his term, Summers said, Before Malpass can do anything else though, he must offer reassurance that he has not brought the Trump administration’s political agenda with him to the World Bank.”

Bretton Woods project – 2019 Spring Meetings Preamble

With ‘flood waters rising’, World Bank & IMF’s answers to 21st century’s key challenges remain inadequate


See also https://www.brettonwoodsproject.org/2019/04/unsustainable-the-imfs-approach-to-the-sustainable-development-goals/  (on ‘SDG washing’ by IMF)

Critical analysis ahead of the Spring Meetings.

Follow other live updates from the Spring Meetings here.

G20 in Osaka offers chance for health and financial policymakers to stop fighting and join hands


“To effectively tackle global health issues, it’s crucial that the Group of 20 nations use their June summit to overcome the barriers that have traditionally separated health experts and policymakers from financial and economic leaders.”


“In the past, things have operated in different silos.. Health and finance ministers must understand that if they want significant growth, be it in high- or low-income economies, finance ministers and the financial community have to be involved in addressing issues involving health. Failure to do so means these economies will massively underperform,” said Alan Donnelly, convener of the G20 Health and Development Partnership.

Philanthropy in China


In the last 8 years, Chinese philanthropy has quadrupled from $6bn in 2009 to $23.4bn in 2017 (an annual growth rate of 20%). This growing powerhouse of Philanthropy, driven by Chinese private sector and a new generation of wealth, could shape the future of international giving and development.



: U.S. shifts Venezuela strategy at U.N. to focus on toll of crisis.
“The U.S. is seeking to highlight the growing humanitarian crisis in Venezuela at the United Nations after its earlier bids to call for new elections faced stiff opposition from veto-wielding rivals Russia and China. The U.S. called for the U.N. Security Council to hold a meeting on the deteriorating situation in the Andean nation, according to an official with knowledge of the request. The move came as a new report said that Venezuela requires a full-scale U.N. response to address increasing levels of food insecurity, disease, and shortages of medicine…”

Alcohol control

Exclusive: Partnering with alcohol industry on public health is not okay, WHO says


“The World Health Organization will not engage with the alcohol industry when developing alcohol policy or implementing public health measures, its staff have been told, and any government seeking advice from a collaboration with industry should be warned of the dangers.

The message that partnering, collaborating, taking funding, and even talking with the alcohol industry on some subjects is not acceptable has been laid out in an internal note to WHO staff.”

WHO’s 2nd Fair Pricing Forum

MSF: Secret medicine prices cost lives

@Health-E News: “Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is calling upon governments to put an end to the secrecy that rules in the field of pharmaceutical products when they meet this week at the World Health Organisation Fair Pricing Forum to discuss access to essential medicines.”


“A diverse group of civil society, industry and government representatives convened today at the WHO-led 2nd Fair Pricing Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa, in the quest for new solutions that can unlock people’s access to desperately needed drugs at more affordable prices. The two-day meeting, co-sponsored with South Africa and involving some 30 countries and 40 industry and nonprofit groups, comes at a time when the debate over drug access has become increasingly polarized.”

“Transparency has also become the clarion call of leading civil society groups such as Oxfam, Médicins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders/MSF) and others for full public disclosure, globally and nationally, of the costs of new drug development and prices of bulk drug sales to national health systems. They were among the organizers of a side event on the Forum’s opening day under the theme “No Fair Price without Transparency.” Transparency is not only a matter of fairness, but also a factor for better governance of pharmaceutical markets.”

Garment industry


“Nearly half (43.1%) of 763 women interviewed in factories in three Vietnamese provinces said they had suffered at least one form of violence and/or harassment in the previous year, according to a study by the Fair Wear Foundation and Care International out on Monday.”.. “There’s a significant culture of silence around this, and as a result the numbers are probably even higher”

Synergy Conference Underscores Inextricable Links Between Climate, Sustainable Development Agendas

The Global Conference on strengthening Synergies between the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, held from 1-3 April in Copenhagen, Denmark.

@SDG Knowledge Hub: “The first-ever Climate and SDGs Synergy Conference identified action areas to advance efforts to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the SDGs, based on the recognition that limiting global warming to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels is critical to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

Artificial Intelligence in Global Health: a brave new world


“The Artificial Intelligence in Global Health report, published on April 1, 2019, looks at 27 cases of AI use in health care and distils them into four key groupings—population health, patient and front-line health worker virtual assistants, and physician clinical decision support. It hypothesises how AI solutions could improve access, quality, and efficacy of global health systems while accounting for their technological maturity and feasibility.

The report sets the framework for a proactive and strategic approach to accelerate the development of cost-effective use of AI in global health by investing in case-specific, systematic, and technology-related key areas.”

Ebola DRC


Since the attack on Ebola treatment centers at Katwa and Butembo in February, the Ebola cases have soared and the outbreak that looked to be under control then, looks far from it now.

“With new case numbers rising at an alarming rate, the World Health Organization said Wednesday it will again look at whether the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo should be declared a global health emergency.”

CIDRAP News: DRC sees alarming new trend as Ebola cases grow by 37 in 3days

“With 37 Ebola cases reported in the past 72 hours, the outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) raged this weekend and [Monday], and the 16 cases reported [Sunday] are the most for a single day during this 8-month outbreak. The new cases raise the outbreak total to 1,154, including 731 deaths, for a case-fatality rate of 6.”

April 9: Ebola cases climb to 1,168 as more health workers infected

With 14 new cases reported from a broad range of larger and smaller hot spots, the total outbreak number rose to 1168 cases, with 1102 confirmed and 66 probable cases and 274 suspected cases. The overall fatality count rose to 741.

April 10: DRC sees record-setting day, with 18 Ebola cases

Today the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) recorded 18 new cases in the ongoing Ebola outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri province, the largest single-day jump since the outbreak began last August. The previous record was 16 cases, on Apr 7In its latest outbreak update yesterday, the WHO said 199 cases have been confirmed in the 21 days from Mar 18 to Apr 7.”

In the light of these developments, WHO DG convened an emergency committee meeting on the 12th of April under the International Health Regulations (IHR) to determine whether the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, and what recommendations should be made to manage it.

April 11: DRC Ebola surge marks 2nd straight record-setting day

For the second day in a row, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) reported a record number of Ebola infections—this time, 20 cases—putting an exclamation point on the outbreak ahead of tomorrow’s World Health Organization (WHO) emergency committee meeting to assess whether the developments constitute a public health emergency declaration.”

.. “the WHO said the surge in cases over the past week underscores the complex reality of responding to an outbreak in a geographically difficult area with a highly fluid population, sporadic attacks by armed groups, and limited healthcare infrastructure”

Health debate rising around the upcoming Indian election


“The BJP will be promoting its Ayushman Bharat scheme further, while the main party in opposition decries an insurance-based model. With 900 million eligible voters, India’s general election is the world’s largest democratic exercise, taking place in seven phases from April 11 to May 19. The results will decide not only who leads India for the next 5 years but also health-care politics for 1·3 billion people in the country.

.. Now, affordable health care has become a major talking point for politicians, although no consensus has been reached on the best way forward. A recent national survey by the non-governmental Association of Democratic Reforms indicated that better health care is now one of the top voter priorities across India.”

Post-Castro Cuba: new constitution expands health rights


“2019 marks the 60th anniversary of the 26th of July Movement, which established Fidel Castro as the leader of the new Cuban Government …  Cuba is now undergoing a major overhaul of its constitution. The new constitution was heavily amended, after more than 80 000 consultation meetings, and was voted in by referendum on Feb 25, with 90% of valid votes cast in favour. Set to be proclaimed by the National Assembly on April 10 as we go to press, this constitution further enshrines the people’s commitment to universal health care and expands social, political, and economic rights in Cuba.”

Many changes including women’s reproductive and sexual rights; protection from gender based violence; gender, sexual orientation, identity, age, ethnic origin, disability, and territorial origin being added to the protected list; legalize gay marriage; health based approach for sexual diversity; right to health, dignified housing, food and water; protection of older people and restoration of a presumption of innocence in the justice system, have been included in the new constitution.

“Unfortunately, until it is backed up by capital, this reform will remain mostly aspirational. However, that this new constitution has received widespread popular support. “

Landmark study on asthma & vehicle pollution


“Four million children develop asthma every year as a result of air pollution from cars and trucks, equivalent to 11,000 new cases a day, a landmark study has found… The damage to children’s health is not limited to China (760,000 cases) and India (350,000 cases), where pollution levels are particularly high. In UK and US cities, the researchers blame traffic pollution for a quarter of all new childhood asthma cases.

The research, published in the journal Lancet Planetary Health, is the first global assessment of the impact of traffic fumes on childhood asthma based on high-resolution pollution data.

“This landmark study shows the massive global burden of asthma in children caused by traffic pollution,” said Prof Chris Griffiths, at Queen Mary University of London and the co-director of the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research, who was not part of the research team. “Asthma is only one of the multiple adverse effects of pollution on children’s health. Governments must act now to protect children.””

Official Development Assistance: Poorest countries bear the brunt as aid levels fall for second successive year


Aid levels dropped last year by 2.7% from 2017, with the poorest countries worst hit, according to figures published by OECD. “With refugee numbers at their highest since the second world war, disasters like Cyclone Idai devastating lives, and food crises looming in Yemen and elsewhere, the fall in humanitarian aid is particularly alarming. Vulnerable people across the world rely on this essential lifeline when disaster hits.”

Angel Gurría, the OECD secretary general, also expressed concern: “This picture of stagnating public aid is particularly worrying as it follows data showing that private development flows are also declining. Donor countries are not living up to their 2015 pledge to ramp up development finance, and this bodes badly for us being able to achieve the 2030 sustainable development goals.”

PAHO – Universal Health in the 21st Century: 40 Years of Alma-Ata: Report of the High-Level Commission


“Forty years after Alma-Ata, the premises remain the same, but our capabilities have increased, as has the conviction that we can do better.

The High Level Commission report highlights PAHO’s potential contributions to other regions of the world, enriching their national health policies with experiences that are often equivalent in terms of obstacles and opportunities. Second, and more importantly, the report emphasizes that it is up to us to make a difference–to guarantee that all people enjoy the necessary conditions to fully exercise their right to health. In all regions of the world and at all times, this is an effort that must continue.

This report offers a path for action on primary health care, understood as a comprehensive strategy to act on social determinants and create specific spaces for communities to take part in 21st century models of care.

Fostering access to and use of contextualized knowledge to support health policy-making: lessons from the Policy Information Platform in Nigeria


Uneke and her colleagues in this article shared lessons from implementing the Policy Information Platform (PIP) – a pilot one stop source for evidence repository in Nigeria, designed to eliminate barriers to accessing policy related evidence and inform policy decisions. The findings suggest that the pilot did facilitate access to information based on local context and evidence for better informed policy making.

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