June 2011

Independent research & practical ideas for global prosperity

Global Health Policy Update 
June 23, 2011

Dear Colleague:

This past month has been a good one for global health, starting with the news that GAVI met and exceeded its fundraising target, netting US$4.3 billion to immunize children in poor countries. Also featured: more empirical evidence that inexpensive technologies and efficient delivery can make a difference for mortality in poor countries and CGD contributions to civil society hearings on non-communicable disease. Lastly, please join me in welcoming our two newest members to the CGD Global Health team—Denizhan Duran joins us as a research assistant and Kate McQueston begins this month as our program coordinator.


Amanda Glassman

Director of Global Health Policy

GAVI Gets Replenished

The GAVI Alliance's June 13th pledging conference netted a remarkable US $4.3 billion to support immunization programs until 2015. Ahead of the conference, there was much uncertainty about the U.S. contribution. Amanda Glassman and Lawrence MacDonald weighed in with a blog post-later published on the Guardian's Poverty Matters blog —urging the U.S. President to make this cost-effective and compassionate investment. The U.S. delivered. As GAVI plans how to spend its new resources, Amanda and co-authors from CSIS offer an essay on priorities for the future, including ramping up and evaluating GAVI's results-based aid model, moving to longer-term contracts with vaccine manufacturers building on the AMC and planning for the introduction of cost-effective vaccines currently in the R&D pipeline (wonkcast here). Responding to recent critiques of GAVI’s relationship with pharmaceutical companies, CGD Senior Fellow Owen Barder blogs on the economics of investing in both access to and innovation on vaccines tailored to low- and middle-income countries, finding good reasons to support GAVI’s partnership model. Amanda and CGD Visiting Fellow Andy Sumner also published a blog on the Guardian's website on the challenges of vaccination in the middle-income countries, where the majority of the world's poor and unvaccinated children live.

The Best Things in Life are (Nearly) Free

CGD Senior Fellow Charles Kenny and co-author Ursula Casabonne released a working paper connecting rapid declines in mortality to the discovery and adoption of cheap or free technologies. The authors show that improving health outcomes does not need to be expensive, and even very poor countries (such as Vietnam) can achieve great outcomes with good technologies and delivery. However, history suggests that this process of dissemination and adoption of inexpensive technologies has much to do with the extent of a country’s ethnic fragmentation and its colonial history. About 70% of the variation of modern male life expectancy can be predicted by patterns of ethnic fragmentation and the log of early colonists’ mortality rates.

Hearing Civil Society on NCD

Rachel Nugent—now of the University of Washington—spoke at the UN Summit Civil Society Hearings on Non-Communicable Disease on June 16 to present findings from her CGD paper on the very small amount of money that aid donors dedicate to non-communicable disease prevention and control. In that paper, Rachel and her co-author Andrea Feigl found that less than 3% of overall development aid for health went for NCD-related purposes in 2007. The hearing will inform the UN High-Level Summit on NCD to be held on September 19-20 where heads of state and governments will discuss the prevention and control of NCD worldwide. The outcome of the summit is still uncertain. Priorities have been distilled to five actions to reduce NCD risk factors by the Lancet Action Group on NCD, but beyond a declaration of intent, what will be the enduring result? Will wealthy countries take aid and non-aid measures to support tobacco control in low- and middle-income countries as proposed by CGD Fellow Tom Bollyky here?

Upcoming Events

  • Amanda Glassman will participate in the 2011 World Congress of the Society for International Development (SID), a three-day conference bringing together a broad spectrum of individuals and groups working as change agents for development. See here to register. (July 29-July 31 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC)
  • Amanda Glassman will serve as a panelist at an event which will look at the recent $4.3 billion worth of pledges to the GAVI Alliance in terms of potential challenges in managing these increased resources while also expanding vaccine coverage in an increasingly complex context (June 27 at the Center for Strategic & International Studies).

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