Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

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This is a joint post with Miriam Temin.

Cement is poured, and children in Mexico have less diarrhea.

Acetic acid is applied, and cervical cancer claims the lives of fewer women in India.

Poor households receive regular cash transfers in South Africa, and girls reduce sexual activity.

These are a few cases in which large-scale efforts to improve health in low and middle-income countries have succeeded, and are among a new generation of success stories that CGD and the Disease Control Priorities Network (DCPN) will feature in the third edition of Millions Saved, set for release in 2015.

DewormingA young girl receives deworming medicine in Kenya. Photo by Mo Scarpelli for END7.

CGD has been collecting global health success stories like these since 2004 and released them in the book Millions Saved: Case Studies in Global Health (now printed in two editions).  But the global health reality of 2014 has changed dramatically from the picture that prevailed a decade ago when the original Millions Saved came out. Official development assistance for health has nearly tripled, innovations have accelerated reductions in morbidity and mortality, and there has been an explosion of cost-effectiveness, systematic reviews and impact evaluation studies on health policies and interventions.

Millions Saved 3 (MS3) will feature 20 new success stories that reflect this rapidly changing landscape of global health intervention, evaluation and achievement.  They include examples of disease prevention and treatment (e.g. expanding ART coverage in Botswana), expanding access to care (e.g. scaling Colombia’s National Insurance Scheme), targeted transfers to improve health (e.g. Child Support Grant in South Africa), and sustained behavior change (e.g. helmet requirements for motorcyclist in Vietnam).  Unlike previous editions, Millions Saved 3 will also include four examples of promising interventions that fell short of their health targets when scaled up in real world conditions.  While our emphasis is on the new cases, we plan to update some of the original success stories – global health “greatest hits” that have seen acceleration and set-backs over the past decade, such as polio and onchocerciasis. 

Cases were selected using a clear set of criteria -- a widely-valued trait of the first and second edition of Millions Saved -- which include parameters to assess a program’s importance, impact, scale, use of economic evaluation, duration, relevance, and --where possible-- emphasis on equity and financial protection.  We also conducted a literature review, public calls for proposals, and expert consultations in an attempt to capture a thematically and geographically diverse set of cases.  Finally, MS3 is drawing from the preparation of the 3rd edition of Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries volumes, a multi-year project that assesses the most up-to-date effectiveness and cost-effectiveness evidence on health interventions, policies and platforms for low- and middle-income countries.  Learn more about our selection criteria and see the shortlist of case studies for MS3.

While the cases will be new, the aim of Million Saved 3 remains the same: to highlight the fact that many global health challenges, while daunting, are in fact solvable, and can be achieved in the relatively near term with appropriate policies, programs, priority setting, and resource allocation.  This edition will also seek to highlight the need for large-scale global health initiatives to include more rigorous, effective monitoring and evaluation.   

Over the next year we’ll be busy investigating what makes these large global health programs succeed and writing up what we’ve found.  Watch this space for excerpts and insights from draft of cases, multimedia, and other resources as the project takes shape.