Norway quadruples grant to World Bank for tax and customs reform in vulnerable states

Norway will increase its contribution to the World Bank’s Global Tax Program (GTP) with NOK88 million (US$10 million) to promote taxation and customs reform in vulnerable states. Having previously granted NOK21.5 million (US$2 million), the move represents an increase of more than 400%. The World Bank intends to use the funds to facilitate customs reform in Niger, Afghanistan, and Somalia. The decision also reflects the Norwegian government’s greater effort to prioritize taxation-centered efforts in its development work. Norway plans to contribute a total of NOK300 million (US$ 34 million) in tax-related development assistance in 2019. 

News article - Bistandsaktuelt (in Norwegian)

Norway Agriculture Education Global health Global health R&D Nutrition

Advocacy group calls for future EU-Africa global health research partnership

Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW), a German advocacy organization, has published a new position paper calling for the future EU-Africa global health research partnership to build on the success of the current partnership for financing research on poverty-related neglected diseases in Africa. The next EU-Africa global health research partnership is currently being discussed as a part of the negotiations on the next EU long-term budget, the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). 
The position paper highlights the impact that the European Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) has had to date, and notes the importance of the proposal for an EDCTP successor program in the future EU research and innovation (R&I) framework  'Horizon Europe'.

The paper recommends: 

  • Continuing EDCTP’s mission and program;
  • Adopting a flexible funding approach;
  • Supporting the partnership with an ambitious budget;
  • Ensuring inclusive governance, accountability, and improved efficiency; and
  • Adopting and enforcing clear conditions on access and affordability.

DSW position paper - The Next EU-Africa Global Health Research Partnership: Building on the Success of EDCTP

EU Global health R&D

European Commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen announces new team and Commission structure

On September 10, 2019, European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen presented the new structure of her college of commissioners and the distribution of portfolios to her commissioners-designate, still to be vetted by the European Parliament. The college has been revamped to focus more on policy themes rather than mirroring the directorate-generals, the administrative divisions within the Commission. 
Josep Borrell (Spain), the designate for high-representative of the union for foreign policy and security policy will also be in charge of ‘a stronger Europe in the world’ as one of the eight vice-presidents. Three executive vice-presidents will hold dual roles as commissioners in addition to their responsibilities to the core topics of the president-elect’s agenda, including the European Green Deal, making ‘Europe fit for the digital age’, and creating an ‘economy that works for the people’. 
Other commissioners-designate include: 

  • Mariya Gabriel (Bulgaria) - Innovation and youth (including research and development)
  • Stella Kyriakides (Cyprus) - Health
  • Jutta Urpilainen (Finland) - International partnerships (including development cooperation)
  • László Trócsányi (Hungary) - Neighborhood and enlargement
  • Janusz Wojciechowski (Poland) - Agriculture

Commissioners-designate will next participate in hearings in relevant parliamentary committees. The European Parliament must then give its consent to the entire college, including the president and the High-Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Finally, the European Council (made up of heads of government of EU member states) will formally appoint the European Commission. The new Commission’s mandate will begin November 1, 2019. 
Press release - European Commission

Australia invests US$10 million in gynecological cancer research

Australian minister for health, Greg Hunt, has announced US$10 million (A$15 million) for targeted clinical trials to improve treatments for ovarian, fallopian, and cervical cancers. The funding will be provided by the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF). While focused on the health outcomes of Australian women, the research outcomes could have significant implications for women in the South Pacific islands, where cervical cancer rates are five to 10 times higher than those in Australia.

Press release – Australian Department of Health

Australia Global health R&D

Norway's key priorities at the United Nations General Assembly: UN Security Council, international cooperation, sustainable development

The Norwegian ministry of foreign affairs has announced Norway’s key priorities for the upcoming UN General Assembly (UNGA). In addition to securing a Norwegian spot on the UN Security Council for 2021-2022, Norway’s priorities contain a common thread of revamping international cooperation and scaling up efforts to promote sustainable development. 

Norway is concerned that multilateral organizations are being less frequently utilized to solve common challenges. Three of Norway’s six priorities, therefore, center around the promotion of international cooperation and the multilateral system, the strengthening of the UN’s ability to prevent and solve conflicts, and the increase of the UN's ability to deal with humanitarian crises. Norway sees these priorities as paramount for achieving peaceful sustainable development.  Norway also emphasizes achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a priority of its own and will place additional weight on efforts related to climate, ocean preservation, education, gender equality, healthcare, and national resource mobilization.  

Press release - Government of Norway (in Norwegian) 

Norway Agriculture Education Global health Global health R&D Nutrition

UK funding supports discovery of "ground-breaking" new tuberculosis treatment

A ground-breaking new drug regime, discovered by the TB Alliance and RTI International, has recently been approved by US regulators for use against drug-resistant tuberculosis. The UK secretary of state for international development, Alok Sharma, has stated how proud he is of the UK’s long-term financial support for the TB Alliance, which along with other donors' support, has helped the Alliance to make this new discovery.  

The new drug regime cures almost 90% of patients with the most difficult to treat strains of tuberculosis. The TB Alliance will now work towards introducing the new treatment regime in countries with the highest burden of drug-resistant strains.

News article - The Telegraph

EU-national scientists “deeply concerned” about Brexit's threat to European research

On August 13, 2019, a group of EU-national scientists published an open letter titled “danger to science of no-deal Brexit" in 'Nature', an international science journal. The scientists expressed their concern about the threat that Brexit would pose to international research, particularly in a 'no-deal' scenario, and warned that new challenges would arise if the UK was to be a 'shadow' member to Horizon Europe - the EU’s proposed research program for 2021-2027, or to some of Horizon Europe’s partnerships, such as those on global health research and development. The letter cautioned that a 'no deal' Brexit scenario would result in fewer European collaborations, diminished resources for research as well as constrained legal frameworks.
Open letter - Nature 

Australia to invest US$11 million in tuberculosis, other health efforts in South-East Asia and the Pacific

Federal health minister Greg Hunt has announced A$5 million (US$4 million) in funding for intensive tuberculosis detection and treatment, and A$8 million (US$6 million) for antimicrobial resistance and drug-resistant tuberculosis research. Hunt announced the grant at the WHO Pacific Health Ministers' Meeting in French Polynesia. A further A$2 million (US$ 1 million) in funding was announced to combat childhood obesity and improve tobacco control laws in the Pacific.

Press release - Minister for Health

News article - RACGP Medical

Report by Centre for Global Development criticizes UK research funding as 'opaque' and 'off topic'

The think tank Centre for Global Development has written a new report calling for greater transparency in UK research funding.

According to the report, the UK spent £737.9 million (US$949 million) of its development assistance in 2017 on research:  8.3% of its bilateral development assistance spending. While 34% of all research funding went towards medical research, the authors of the report found it difficult to assess which sectors received the rest of the funding and criticized the spending as opaque. The research also noted the high level of funding going to UK universities and research institutes and questioned whether there had been an open procurement process.

Report - Centre for Global Development UK

Blog post - Centre for Global Development

Global health R&D

Centre for Global Development gives recommendations for UK to enhance its global health footprint

The global development thinktank, the Centre for Global Development, has called on the UK’s new health secretary, Matt Hancock, to improve the UK’s global health footprint. The thinktank outlines five changes that it believes if undertaken by the new Minister could help to further enhance the UK’s health impact.

In their own words, the Center recommends that the UK:

  1. "Adopt the Global Skills Partnership for training, attracting, and retaining healthcare professionals—an approach that benefit both the NHS and the originator countries.
  2. Boost support for NHS International as an agent of soft power, with particular emphasis on sharing NHS knowledge products and strengthening local institutions and governance, at countries’ request.
  3. Work with DFID to set up a What Works Centre for Best Buys in Health, starting with healthcare commodity procurement and health taxes.Supporting partner countries to set up national research infrastructure based on the success of the UK’s National Institute for Health Research.
  4. Help countries set up a national research infrastructure explicitly to service their healthcare systems, using NIHR as a model and the NIHR Global Health Research fund as a means for researching and evaluating the relevance of such an approach at country level.
  5. Reduce fragmentation, increase coordination and scale, and articulate a strategic vision, jointly produced with LMIC academicians and policymakers, for the department’s multiple policy and research ODA funds."

Blog - Centre for Global Development