The Best Buys in Global Health: Striking the Effective Balance
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
A ’best buy’ in global health is an idea that can easily lead us to focus on a single intervention, a silver bullet in the fight to improve health outcomes around the world. And clearly, there are some notable interventions that truly do represent huge impact per dollar invested in terms of lives saved. Take an insecticide-treated net — an effective tool to prevent malaria, but made exponentially more effective when delivered nationwide in a short period of time.
Innovation in both the development of new technologies and better delivery methods is critical. But here’s where it gets more complex: An intervention must be designed from the perspective of the health consumer, and it must be affordable and have an effective delivery system. There must be political will and the right policies must be in place. And yes, there must be adequate and flexible funding available. To achieve this, we’re tasked with being good advocates, fundraisers, inventors and systems thinkers.
To have real and lasting impact, we must step back from the intervention level of analysis to understand how we can mold entire ecosystems to better serve the health of broad populations. Sometimes this is called ’health systems strengthening’, and sometimes it might be seen under the even broader rubric of ’capacity building’.