Friday, June 19, 2009

Do We Get Our Money's Worth in Global Health?

Two carefully researched reports in the Lancet argue that the world is not getting its money's worth in global health.

The first, from the World Health Organization, says that a focus on making improvements in individual diseases--like AIDS--has come at the expense of comprehensive programs that offer treatment for all the most pressing health problems.

The other, from Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle, documents a quadrupling of funds for global health since 1990 but shows that some of the poorest countries with the highest disease burdens have actually received less help than somewhat healthier and wealthier countries. In addition, the IHME paper documents the shift in power and influence from government and public agencies to private foundations--like the Gates Foundation, which funded the study--and individuals.

Both research articles--and the accompanying comments and editorials--are well worth reading at length and at leisure (which I plan to do this weekend). I do not know if these articles will spur any changes in direction or action on the ground but I have a feeling we will be hearing about these pieces for some time to come.

Several of the blog posts I have read so far about these studies are rehashes of the press releases that accompanied them. Given the nuances of the arguments and the complexity of the data, it may take a while for more thoughtful reviews to appear.

Maria Cheng's article for the Associated Press is a good, if basic, introduction to the papers. Kaiser Health News says they will post an aggregation soon--and here it is.

1 comment:

Dev Varma said...

Apparently, mother doesn't know best...