Global Health Policy Blog

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis on global health issues and how better policies can improve well-being for everyone. Also check out our Views from the Center blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

The World’s Most Profitable Slow-Motion Disaster: Tobacco

In April, I attended a very hopeful event sponsored by the World Bank entitled, “Tobacco Taxation Win-Win for Public Health and Domestic Resources Mobilization.” My optimism was buoyed by seeing people from different ministries, disciplines, and perspectives all recognizing the need to raise tobacco taxes and sharing ideas on how to reduce the death toll from smoking. Then the bubble burst. I got home and saw a Wall Street Journal article about the increasing profitability of cigarette corporations in the US domestic market—a reminder that, unbelievably, we are still on the defensive against this large, growing, and completely avoidable disaster.

Comments Needed: A Better Deal to Protect Americans’ Health under the Trump Administration

We would argue that investing in global health, at least along certain dimensions, is entirely consistent with President Trump’s philosophy of America First—a real opportunity for his administration to improve the security of the American people by pushing through some much-needed reform. In that spirit, we’ve put together a proposal for a new executive initiative under the Trump Administration. We call it PAHAA: Protecting America’s Health at Home and Abroad.

Health Technology Assessment: Global Advocacy and Local Realities

Cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) can help countries attain and sustain universal health coverage (UHC), as long as it is context-specific and considered within deliberative processes at the country level. Institutionalising robust deliberative processes requires significant time and resources, however, and countries often begin by demanding evidence (including local CEA evidence as well as evidence about local values), whilst striving to strengthen the governance structures and technical capacities with which to generate, consider and act on such evidence. In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), such capacities could be developed initially around a small technical unit in the health ministry or health insurer. The role of networks, development partners, and global norm setting organisations is crucial in supporting the necessary capacities.

Technology Won’t “Save” Healthcare

Health technologies can reduce healthcare spending. On average, they don’t. Prominent examples—like the way polio vaccines eliminated the need for iron lungs—seem to drive a common faith in healthcare technology as a tool to “cure” costly health systems. But it actually works the other way around—health systems (policies, institutions, and markets) and human responses to them determine whether these tools will (or won’t) increase spending.

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