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We here at CGD tend to be critical of international agencies like WHO or the UNDP for establishing targets or guidelines without sufficient consideration of the impacts, for good and ill, of those guidelines in the affected countries. Such guidelines often apply standards more appropriate to rich countries and then pressure poor countries to behave as if they were rich.
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.
In November, the World Health Organization will select its next regional director for Africa. As we wrote in a previous blog, this position is not posted publicly and has no independent mechanism in place to recommend, interview, and evaluate the best qualified candidates.
This week the World Health Organization held a major international meeting on universal health coverage (UHC), with Director General Margaret Chan reaffirming her regard for universal coverage “as the single most powerful concept that public health has to offer.” While the term “universal” signals that the entire population will be “covered,” an unanswered question is: covered with what? Another way to put the question: What health benefits or interventions would represent coverage, taking into account UHC’s implicit goals of improved health, equity and financial protection?
As a new WHO Director-General—Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus—prepares to take office, many have called for clearer priorities, governance and organizational reforms, and funding expansions. All good, but there is one additional, grossly neglected issue that requires urgent action: WHO needs better economic advice. As I explain in this blogpost, that should come in the form of appointing WHO’s own chief economist.