Monday, March 1, 2010

The cost and impact of global malaria initiatives

Dear Colleagues

I was unable to attend the recent Malaria Roundtable hosted by the Global Health Council in Washington DC. I was wanting to attend because the key questions of the Community Analytics (CA) initiative are not getting answered. The purpose of the gathering is set out below
Monday, March 1
The Malaria Roundtable is a community space where individuals and organizations dedicated to policies and programs that reduce the global burden of malaria can meet, exchange information and share resources. Convened by the Global Health Council, the Malaria Roundtable is a working section of the broader Infectious Disease Network which brings together groups working on malaria, tuberculosis (TB), the neglected tropical diseases and other infectious disease issues including avian influenza.
The amount of money that has now been disbursed through a variety of programs, including the US funded President's Malaria Initiative (PMI), the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM), the Gates Foundation and others is substantial ... maybe in excess of $2 billion a year ... and yet the amount of accessible data about progress and performance is minimal.

What seems to be going on is that well connected organizations are in control of the process ... with all the dataflows well controlled within this control group. Public access to any of the data is virtually impossible. Were this an audit, this would constitute a good reason for further inquiry. Bottom line, the public is funding a lot of expenditure ... and so far the public only is being given public relations press releases that praise the activities but studiously avoid any verifiable data about costs and impact.

The problem is that this is not just about money ... it is also about lives. If the resources are not used well, people die ... and in fact very large numbers of people die. How many is difficult to estimate ... but think in terms of several Boeing 747s crashing every day gives an idea of what is at stake! Yet nobody seems to know anything very much about much things cost, and what impact the different interventions are having. Scandalous ... this is 2010, not 1910.

Peter Burgess

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