Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Global Health ... lots of workshops, but how much commitment to investment?

Dear Colleagues

There are a lot of health organization that have a public relations (PR) posture that suggests that there has been great progress with global health over the past few years ... or few decades.

In Community Analytics (CA) one of the measures of performance is "How much progress compared to what the progress could have been?". Using this as the measure almost everything to do with global relief and development is deep failure ... yet the institutions most involved with international official relief and development assistance (ORDA) are using PR to spread the word that they are doing great work.

From an analytical point of view most initiatives are either spending too much or not spending enough ... and the progress is mostly inconsequential. This is worse, because the possibility of doing things right and having great progress exists ... but progress is not happening.

Of course, a sweeping generalization of this type is not the whole story. There are some examples of absolutely amazing performance ... and there are lessons to be learned from these. In fact this is part the origin of CA itself!

The area of health ought to be making much more progress ... but the programs are not well designed. The results are poor because that is the program design ... and the results really do not matter since there are inadequate metrics to measure progress and performance. Look at the following workshop / panel series:
Launch of New Health Series ... March 4, 2010

The Global Health Council and Results for Development Institute will launch a new health series "New Visions for Improving Health Care in the Developing World" that will highlight global health initiatives in which strong analysis is being used to drive practical changes in health systems in developing countries. This series will include sessions in Washington, D.C., and New York City.
  • "Civil Society: A Missing Link in Development" March 29, Washington
  • "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: The Private Sector's Role in Health" April 28, Washington.
  • "Hidden Heroes: How Ministries of Health Can Drive Change" September, Washington.
  • "What Would it Take to Get Universal Health Coverage around the World? Lessons from Countries on the Move" October, New York.
  • "Pharmacist, Doctors, Nurses, Oh My! Solving the HR Problem in Developing Countries" November, Washington.
More information on these events by visiting the Results for Development website
The organizers of these presentations have some concern about performance.
Despite the tremendous progress that has been made in global health over the past two decades, there is still often a disconnect between thought and action. Researchers produce many papers that don’t find their way into practice, and implementers often carry out projects built on shaky policy foundations. This series will highlight examples in which strong analysis is being used to drive practical changes in health systems and improve health services for the poor. It will focus on promising areas for gains that earlier were neglected, bringing new actors and approaches to the center of global health.
The problem now is that a workshop and a highlight changes almost nothing. The way the system is scored needs to be changed ... and that is what CA is determined to do.

Peter Burgess

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