Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

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Amanda GlassmanTo mark the start of the new year, my guest is Amanda Glassman, CGD’s new director of global health. I asked Amanda, who previously worked at the Inter-American Development Bank, the Brookings Institution, and USAID, where she sees opportunities for progress on global health in 2011 and beyond.

Amanda summarizes her priorities for CGD’s global health program with two big questions. First, how can donors deploy their global health aid budgets (more constrained than ever) to have the greatest impact on health in poor countries? Second, how can these same donors help poor countries and poor people use their own resources more effectively?

The first question encompasses some of CGD’s bread and butter issues: how to track donor spending and measure progress, how to improve the allocation of aid budgets, and how to improve the governance and operations of the multilateral institutions.  As an example, Amanda highlights a soon-to-be released report that offers recommendations for the new head of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and plans for a similar report on the World Health Organization (WHO).

The second question encompasses all the small and large ‘nudges’ that can leverage aid to help local resources go farther. Amanda explains that even in the most aid-dependent countries, the vast majority of health spending comes from national sources, both the public sector and private households.

“If the international community wants to support developing country governments in improving health,” she tells me, “we need to…bring our assistance to bear on those funds rather than focusing on what our little donor dollar is doing on the margin.”

Aid programs that spur demand for health services, and CGD’s own proposal for Cash on Delivery Aid, applied to health, are among the possibilities for leveraging aid, she says.

Listen to the Wonkcast to hear much more detail on each of Amanda’s global health priorities. Have something to add? Ideas for future interviews? Post a comment below, or send me an email. If you use iTunes, you can subscribe to get new episodes delivered straight to your computer every week.

My thanks to Wren Elhai for his production assistance on the Wonkcast recording and for drafting this blog post.