Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Paying for People

(Analysis) We need to rethink the way we invest in global health. We spend too much time responding to immediate emergencies and not enough building for the future.

A new report from Oxfam, entitled “Paying for People,” tackles the issue by arguing that rich countries that are moved to help poor countries should spend more of their aid dollars investing in doctors, nurses and teachers—and lots of them—rather than concentrating primarily on clinics, medicines and school buildings.

Future Oxfam reports will have recommendations for what poor countries can do on their own to increase their investment in their people.

It’s always easier to donate money for things than for people. You know what you’re getting with things. And perhaps best of all, there’s only a finite commitment. After all, you’re not going to be building that clinic forever.

People are much more unpredictable. You give them a scholarship to medical school and they move to a different country after graduation. Or they change careers. Or, most annoyingly, they come up with their own ideas on how things should be done.

But without a larger investment in people, we will not make great strides in global health. Buildings and technology are necessary but without people, they are useless.

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