Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues

Well-Designed Global Health Aid Can Improve Both Health, Governance Of Countries

Foreign Policy: Good Health Supports Good Governance
Matthew M. Kavanagh, visiting professor of law at Georgetown University and the director of the Global Health Policy and Governance Initiative at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law

“…There is plenty of research showing that countries that succeed in building effective health systems rely on strong governance institutions — those that distribute power, ensure transparency, check corruption, and provide strong legal systems. These same institutions are critical for economic growth and development. It would seem, then, that there is good reason to focus on building strong institutions first in order to ensure better health in the future. But we don’t have to choose. Well-designed global health aid can have beneficial effects on governance as well. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria is a clear example. … In a recent study, … [w]e found that increased aid from the [Global Fund] was associated with better control of corruption, government accountability, political freedom, regulatory quality, and rule of law … This relationship held true even when we controlled for other factors that might explain the difference like a country’s wealth, relative political stability, and level of corruption at the start of funding. … Improving health is not possible in a vacuum. We do need strong institutions. And just as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals link improved health with improved governance, our research on the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria shows that aid, when it flows through well-designed mechanisms, can be a key part of doing both” (5/24).