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The lack of timely, accurate information about spending on health services and public health programs represents a key constraint for good policymaking and effective use of limited resources in developing countries. Although important advances have been made in improving the data quality and policy-relevance of data on national spending and external flows from public and private donors, the need to further improve data systems is clear. None of the existing tracking systems or efforts provides up-to-date, comprehensive information in a form that addresses central policy questions. Without information about what resources are expected – from whom, and for what purpose – and without better tracking of how those funds have been spent, policy leaders, advocates and analysts are unlikely to be able to effectively raise additional resources and allocate them toward the populations and types of services that are vital to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
Responding to observations by the High-Level Forum on the Health MDGs, the Global Health Policy Research Network undertook an effort to identify specific ways to enhance the accuracy, timeliness, comprehensiveness and access to information on public and private financial flows in the health sector in developing countries by convening the Global Health Resource Tracking Working Group, comprised of knowledgeable individuals from key development agencies that have a stake in tracking resources within the health sector.
Under the auspices of the group, a series of background analyses were conducted to:
Summarize the main policy uses of information on resource flows;
Inventory and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of existing sources of data on financial flows;
Assess the experience of National Health Accounting in developing countries;
Examine the data systems within development agencies providing resources for the health sector;
Identify means of improving core budgeting systems and processes within developing country governments.
The Working Group’s report, Following the Money: Toward Better Tracking of Global Health Resources, calls for a move: from tracking expenditures on specific health programs in an uncoordinated way to coherent and long-term support to improve government budgetary and financial systems in the developing world; to institutionalizing standard approaches to documenting and analyzing health sector expenditures; and to providing more timely, predictable and forward‑looking data on external assistance to the health sector.
Working Group Members
Membership of the Global Health Resource Tracking Working Group includes individuals nominated by stakeholder agencies (bilateral and multilateral funders, private funders, technical agencies), with specific interest in global health resource tracking; individuals able to represent perspective of country-level policymakers and individuals knowledgeable about private expenditures and contributions. The group is co-chaired by Brian Hammond, OECD/DAC; Gustavo Nigenda, Mexican Health Foundation; and Ruth Levine, Center for Global Development.
Sono Aibe, David and Lucile Packard Foundation
Joseph Annan, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Mark Bura, Commonwealth Regional Health Community, Secretariat for East, Central and Southern Africa
Andrew Cassels, World Health Organization (WHO)
Karen Cavanaugh, US Agency for International Development (USAID)
Thea Christiansen, Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Don Creighton, Pfizer, Inc.
Paul De Lay, The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)
Jacqueline Eckhardt-Gerritsen, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)
Francois Farah, United Nations Population Fund - UNFPA (UNFPA)
Tamara Fox, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Charu Garg, World Health Organization (WHO)
Pablo Gottret, World Bank
Prea Gulati, Global Health Council
Brian Hammond, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
Jose-Antonio Izazola-Licea, The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)
Jennifer Kates, Kaiser Family Foundation
Kei Kawabata, World Bank
Eric Lief, Consultant for the Center for Global Development
Daniel Lopez Acuna, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)
Gustavo Nigenda, Fundación Mexicana para la Salud (FUNSALUD)
Ann Pawliczko, United Nations Population Fund - UNFPA (UNFPA)
Rudolphe Petras, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
Lisa Regis, The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)
Elizabeth Robin, Department for International Development (DFID)
Blair Sachs, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
James Sherry, Global Health Council
Viroj Tangcharoensathien, The Health Systems Research Institute (HSRI) Thailand
Tessa Tantorres, World Health Organization (WHO)
Pascal Villeneuve, The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)