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.

 

Defining Benefits for Universal Health Care—How Governments Can Get the Most Bang for Their Health Care Buck

Vaccinate children against measles and mumps or pay for the costs of dialysis treatment for kidney disease patients? Pay for cardiac patients to undergo lifesaving surgery, or channel money toward efforts to prevent cardiovascular disease in the first place? For universal health care (UHC) to become a reality, policymakers looking to make their money go as far as possible must make tough life-or-death choices like these.

Dear Finance Minister: The World Bank Has Cleared the Air on Tobacco Taxes

Dear Finance Minister,

This Wednesday, you will be attending an event on tobacco taxes at the World Bank’s annual meetings, where President Jim Kim and Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be speaking. You will be attending this high-level discussion along with about 14 other Finance Ministers. While the meeting may look routine, it is actually one of the most important you will attend this week. You will be discussing how the Finance Ministry can save more lives than the Minister of Health—by raising tobacco taxes in a way that best discourages smoking.

A Global Burden of Disease Data Plus Model to Inform Domestic Decision-Making: In Search of Super-local Data

Global Burden of Disease (GBD) country rankings can strengthen the case of advocates at global and national levels for prioritising investment towards the major drivers of mortality and morbidity. But as discussed in our earlier blog post, when it comes to informing specific investment cases within these broader priorities, GBD data alone are not enough to allow consideration of trade-offs and of opportunity costs of alternative investment choices addressing the same problem. The next step in using data to trigger action ought to be the generation, in conjunction with domestic stakeholders, of what we call below “super-local data.”

Measuring Progress towards Health SDGs: Great Effort, More Needed

Earlier this month, the first analysis of countries’ progress towards attaining the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was published in the Lancet. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) used Global Burden of Disease Data (GBD 2016) to create an index for 37 (out of 50) health-related SDG indicators between 1990–2016, for a total of 188 countries. Based on the pace of change recorded over the past 25 years or so, the researchers then projected the indicators to 2030. The punchline: if past is prologue, the median number of SDG targets attained in 2030 will be five of the 24 defined targets currently measured. Not very inspiring.

WHO’s Draft Concept Note: Treating the Symptoms, Not the Causes?

Global health policy enthusiasts will be excited to see that WHO has recently published a draft Concept Note on the 2019-2023 Programme of Work under the stewardship of its new Director-General. We see two glaring missed opportunities: 1) more centrality to universal health coverage (UHC) as an organizing principle for WHO and its work, and 2) more emphasis on enhancing the value for money of public spending on UHC and elsewhere.

Research in the Time of Ebola: How We Can Do Better

The 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in West Africa was a disturbing demonstration of the inadequacy of international institutions to assist the affected peoples or learn how to better treat and prevent their illness. Experts on a CGD panel discussed their experiences working on crisis response during the Ebola outbreak—and how we can do better.

Taking Stock of Aid Agency Evaluations in Global Health: Here’s What We Know about Evaluation Quality and What Funders Can Do Better

With the US Congress considering cuts to foreign assistance and aid budgets in other donor countries coming under increased pressure, evidence about what works in global development is more important than ever. Evidence should inform decisions on where to allocate scarce resources—but to do so, evaluations must be of good quality. 

Tobacco Companies Fail the Corporate Social Responsibility Test of a Free-Market Advocate

Philip Morris International and other cigarette manufacturers are among the most profitable firms in the world, selling the world’s most lethal legal product. They prominently advertise their commitment to corporate social responsibility on everything from child labor to renewable energy. They’ve even conceded that smoking is dangerous and say they are committed to a smoke-free world. But none of these initiatives make up for breaching their most fundamental corporate social responsibility—one defined quite cogently by free-market-advocate Milton Friedman—to pursue their profits “without deception and fraud.”

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