The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is moving to tackle one of the most difficult and important challenges of health policy: strengthening regional mechanisms for assessing which health technologies are cost effective and therefore appropriate for public funding. It's a sensitive issue that vexes poor and rich countries alike--including the United States. A recent PAHO resolution signed by the United States, Canada, and countries in Latin America and the Caribbean will strengthen a network created last year to improve the quality of Health Technology Assessment studies and their use in the allocation of public budgets.
The improved network would address problems identified in a CGD working group report, Priority-Setting in Health: Building Institutions for Smarter Public Spending, that urges the creation and strengthening of national and regional priority-setting institutions to improve the effectiveness of public spending on health. The CGD report shows that global health donors and both developed and developing countries could greatly reduce suffering from ill-health and save many more lives--and often money, too--by taking into account the cost-effectiveness of health interventions to better allocate healthcare funds.