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April 5 marks the launch of Millions Saved, a collection of case studies by the Center for Global Development (CGD) detailing 18 remarkable global health successes and four crushing disappointments to determine what works – and what doesn’t – in global health.
At a glance, nearly eradicating Meningitis A in Africa, lowering the number of child marriages in Pakistan and preventing traumatic brain injury in Vietnam might seem unrelated, but through rigorous evaluation of these programs, co-authors Amanda Glassman, director of Global Health Policy, and Miriam Temin, a public health expert, have identified the policies and practices that paved the way for success.
“If we want to make even more global health progress and get the most health for our money, we must know what works and what doesn’t,” said Glassman. “Through the case studies in Millions Saved, we showed that major improvements in peoples’ lives are possible anywhere given the right conditions. Ultimately, it takes a combination of scientific advances, smart financing and the right group of people to come together to drive success.”
All of the success stories in Millions Saved had four features in common:
- The programs were built using the best scientific evidence available as a guide.
- Partnerships and coalitions were formed to mobilize the necessary technical, financial and political resources both domestically and internationally.
- Not one, but many political leaders – sometimes across cycles – sustained efforts over time.
- Programs were rigorously evaluated to measure their impact.
Millions Saved has already been lauded by the world’s foremost leaders in global health. In a foreword to the book, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, called Millions Saved “a refreshing reminder of our ability to take on some of the biggest global challenges,” and notes that “it underscores the incredible impact development aid can have—and why it’s so important that we continue to support poor countries in lifting themselves out of poverty.”
Each case in Millions Saved has a story to tell. Some of them are available on the Millions Saved website (millionssaved.cgdev.org). If you’re interested in writing about findings in the book or any of these cases, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are the cases:
Rolling Out Medicine and Technology
- AFRICA & MENINGITIS: An old scourge, meningitis A, meets a new vaccine, MenAfriVac. Two hundred and thirty-five million immunizations later, fifteen African countries achieve historic reductions in incidence and deaths. Get the case at here.
- OTSWANA & HIV: In Botswana, the government distributes lifesaving treatment at zero cost to people living with HIV, and AIDS deaths plummet by more than 70 percent in less than a decade. Get the case here.
- CHINA & CANCER: China’s government extends the reach of hepatitis B vaccination nationwide and blocks a looming liver cancer epidemic.
- ZAMBIA & MALARIA: Zambia goes all in with proven tools to fight malaria-spreading mosquitoes, helping more children reach their fifth birthday.
- MEXICO & CHILD HEALTH: Concrete flooring in poor households makes Mexican children healthier, and even their mothers become measurably happier. Get the case here.
- KENYA & WORMS: School-based treatment gives millions of Kenyan children a worm-free childhood, with lifelong benefits for their health and livelihoods.
- HAITI & POLIO: Relying on proven tactics, Haiti goes school-to-school and house-to-house to vaccinate kids and halts a polio outbreak. Get the case here.
- BANGLADESH & INFANT MORTALITY: In Bangladesh, a package of proven interventions falls short on effectiveness at scale and fails substantially reduce under-five deaths.
Expanding Access to Health Services
- THAILAND & UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE: Despite political upheaval, Thailand manages to roll out universal access to essential health services at zero cost. Babies become healthier, workers are more productive, and households reduce financial risk. Get the case here.
- ARGENTINA & NEONATAL MORTALITY: Through a structured system of incentive payments, Argentina’s national government works with provincial authorities to take on a spiraling health crisis for newborns. Get the case here.
- BRAZIL & HEART DISEASE: Elevating high-quality primary care from the sidelines to center stage, Brazil cuts deaths from heart disease and reduces unnecessary hospital visits. Get the case here.
- RWANDA & CHILD HEALTH: Paying providers for results gets results: increased use of health services, and growth and weight gain for Rwanda’s children.
- INDIA & CHILD HEALTH: Gujarat takes on maternal and neonatal mortality by paying private doctors to offer hospital-based delivery, but the program doesn’t reach the poor who need it most and fails to improve health.
Using Targeted Cash Transfers to Improve Health
- KENYA’S AIDS ORPHANS: Cash transfers give a helping hand to caretakers of ultra-poor and vulnerable Kenyan children, generating major reductions in risky behaviors and better mental and physical health. Get the case here.
- PAKISTAN & REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH: Conditional cash transfers help Punjabi girls stay in school, empowering them to marry later and avoid early pregnancies—good news for their reproductive health. Get the case here.
- SOUTH AFRICA & RISKY SEXUAL BEHAVIOR: In post-apartheid South Africa, cash grants help level the playing field for children living in poverty, improving their nutrition while reducing early pregnancy and risk behaviors. Get the case here.
- HONDURAS & INSTITUTIONAL DELIVERY: In Honduras, cash transfers help families access health services but don’t improve health.
Changing Behavior Population-wide to Reduce Risk
- THAILAND & TOBACCO CONTROL: Thailand cuts smoking by a quarter after taking on transnational tobacco with tax hikes, health warnings, and new laws and restrictions. Get the case here.
- VIETNAM & TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY: Complying with a new law and stepped-up enforcement, Vietnam’s motorcyclists don helmets and prevent traumatic brain injuries. Get the case here.
- INDONESIA & OPEN DEFECATION: Triggered by a call to action, Indonesian communities band together to eliminate open defecation and reduce diarrheal disease. Get the case here.
- INDIA & HIV: In India, targeted community outreach and health services for the most at-risk affected populations help stem the spread of HIV. Get the case here.
- PERU & SANITATION: A handwashing campaign in Peru gets mothers to lather up but fails to clean up the burden of fecally transmitted diseases.
About the Center for Global Development
CGD works to reduce global poverty and inequality through rigorous research and active engagement with the policy community to make the world a more prosperous, just, and safe place for all people. As an independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit think tank, focused on improving the policies and practices of the rich and powerful, the Center combines world-class scholarly research with policy analysis and innovative outreach and communications to turn ideas into action.