Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

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 Aid Fungibility Debate and Medical Journal Peer Review

The Lancet just published a letter I wrote questioning an influential study in its pages that concluded that most or all foreign aid for health goes into non-health uses. The letter follows up on concerns I expressed in this space in April 2010. Why the 2.5-year lag? Only this past January did the Seattle-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) share the data set and computer code that it used to generate the published findings. And only with those in hand could I check my concerns and describe them to others with credibility. (I'm grateful to the kind people at IHME who gave me the data and code, but don't want to let the institution per se off the hook.)

Confusingly, in May the Public Library of Science published another critique of the same article. I questioned that reanalysis, and it was eventually retracted.

Here, I sketch my argument, comment on the reply from Chunling Lu and Christopher Murray, then call out the Lancet for a certain lack of transparency, as well as for sometimes bringing more reputation than rigor to policy-relevant social science research.

Healthization of Development

The U.S. nominee to the World Bank presidency is attracting criticism from those worried about the "healthization" of the development field.  In Bloomberg, my colleague Arvind Subramanian is quoted: “Someone who comes to the bank has to be much more than a health economist or a health person.”

New Round in Tug of War on Nurse Migrants

Somewhere in the cross-oceanic battle over where doctors and nurses are allowed to work, I saw a rather pathetic cartoon: a bunch of little paper dolls with stethoscopes and nurses caps being suspended along a rope traversing half the globe – they were each hanging from their own little noose. Behind this story, real people are indeed victims, and the world is treating them like two-dimensional dolls.

Michael Clemens, His Data Cited to Support Idea of Medical Brain Drain, Has His Say

Media reports, including a report on the BBC, cited new data compiled by CGD research fellow Michael Clemens to argue that the so-called "brain drain" of nurses and doctors from Africa to rich countries is contributing to poor health in sub-Saharan Africa. Several blogs have taken a similar view on the detrimental effects of health professional emigration on sending countries. However, Michael's own findings are contrary to these reports.

Africans Need Doctors, But They Need Health Even More

Mozambique's Minister of Health Dr. Paulo Ivo Garrido is worried about the shortage of doctors in his country. He recently declared that "The main problem in the Ministry of Health is the shortage of [medical] staff. We need specialized doctors, not just general practitioners." He has a plan to encourage the migration of 8,000 doctors from other African countries into Mozambique over the next decade.