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Global Health Policy Blog

CGD experts blog on global health issues such as health financing, drug resistance, clinical trials, vaccine development, HIV/AIDS, and health-related foreign assistance.


Right Idea on Ross Malaria Funding, Wrong Execution

The United Kingdom, in its new Aid Strategy out this week, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have jointly announced the creation of a £1 billion Ross Fund (named after a pioneering scientist) to fight malaria and neglected tropical diseases. But why not use the existing Global Fund for the new initiative instead of creating yet another health-related fund, of which the world is already lumbered with too many?

Family Planning Commitments: Much Achieved, But Short of Goal

Since the start of FP2020’s endeavor to mobilize increased global effort on family planning as a means to empower women and improve health, about 24 million more women with reported unmet need are using contraception. But much remains to be done; a comparison of commitments and baselines in 2012 to mid-2015 makes clear that the global effort must overcome several hurdles to meet its 2020 aspirations.

To Achieve Global Health “Convergence,” an Evolving Role for Health Aid

Imagine a world in which children in Zambia, Bolivia, and Laos have the same chance to survive, grow, and thrive as their peers in Canada or Europe. Such a world sounds nice, to be sure, but probably quite far out of reach. Yet according to the Lancet Commission on Investing in Health, that “grand convergence” between poor and rich countries is achievable within our lifetimes. This is a remarkable and unique opportunity, one unprecedented in human history.

Three Ways to Make Room for Mental Health

Globally, over a billion people are likely to experience a mental disorder in their lifetime, with the majority in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Mental illnesses are responsible for 7.4% of global disease burden, and frequently among the top causes of disability including in middle-income countries. These illnesses impose a severe economic burden not only on the individuals suffering from these illnesses but on their families, communities, healthcare systems, and governments.

The Importance of Global Health Investment

One of the things I am proudest of having done in Washington was having the idea as Chief Economist of the World Bank that the Bank should devote its annual World Development Report to making the case for improving both the quantity and quality of global health investment.

The 5000% Price Increase and the Economic Case for Pharma Price Regulation

You’ve probably already heard about the pharma outrage du jour. In short: start-up Turing Pharmaceuticals, led by combative ex-hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli, recently acquired Daraprim, a 60+ year-old drug to treat a parasitic infection called toxoplasmosis – the only available treatment for this rare infection – which can become deadly for HIV+ individuals and others with weakened immune systems. Turing then promptly raised the price by more than 5000%, from $13.50 to $750 per tablet, such that a single individual’s treatment can now cost up to $634,000.

The World Bank Keeps Missing Opportunities to Save Lives and Mobilize Domestic Revenues

I have argued that tobacco taxes are the single best health policy that any country could implement. The World Bank is the most prominent organization in the world with the skills, mandate, and network to support raising tobacco taxes in developing countries where the number of smokers and shortened lives is increasing every year. Yet, the World Bank has committed far too little to this effort. One of the key reasons is that World Bank management has let this best-buy for development fall between the cracks – tobacco is a health issue and taxes are a fiscal policy issue.

An Insider’s Perspective on Delivering a DIB

No one said creating development impact bonds (DIB) was going to be easy, but that hasn’t stopped the development community from trying to get them off the ground. The Fred Hollows Foundation, based in Australia, has been hard at work on a DIB to address cataract blindness in Africa. As the Foundation attracts partners to help fund and implement a pilot of the cataract bond, Dr. Lachlan McDonald, the Foundation’s senior health economist, and Alex Rankin, their Global Lead for Policy, Advocacy & Research, shared some lessons learned so far. With Lachlan and Alex’s permission, we’re turning some of those lessons over to you – we hope they’re useful to others seeking to move ahead with their own DIB.