In many low- and lower-middle-income countries (LMICs) where disease burdens are highest, health supply chains function poorly, resulting in frequent stockouts and a high prevalence of substandard and even falsified medications. In response to these concerns, the global health initiatives have stepped up their efforts to improve supply chain management.
The rapid expansion of internet access across the globe is a welcome development, but it raises new policy challenges. And while there is broad agreement in the development community on the importance of getting digital policy “right,” too little attention has been paid to how policymakers in the developing world can best engage with the companies who dominate the digital landscape.
This brief essay explores a key but often overlooked hurdle to using blockchain solutions, which is the complexity that decentralized solutions necessarily introduce. At times, the benefits of such solutions appear to exceed the added cost of complexity but often they do not. With this tradeoff in mind, the paper considers two use cases, digital ID and health supply chain management.
Increasing attention is being paid to the potential of blockchain technology to address long-standing challenges related to economic development. This paper provides a clear-eyed view of the technology’s potential in the context of development. It focuses on identifying the questions that development practitioners should be asking technologists, and challenges that innovators must address for the technology to meet its potential.