Sep 22, 2014
Where do you go when hit with a serious medical condition? “The
hospital!” is an obvious answer for people in high income
countries, but for people in low-income and emerging market
economies, access to a proper hospital is often just a dream. Why
are decent hospitals in the developing world so few and far
This week I invite senior fellow Amanda
Glassman on the Wonkcast to discuss a new CGD
Working Group that is studying the problems that
result in a lack of effective hospitals in low-income and emerging
Why focus on hospitals now? While news from the front
lines of Ebola has made the entire world aware of
the dearth of hospitals in the afflicted countries, Amanda notes
that within the global health community the shortage of hospitals
in the developing world was already a hot topic.
For years donors have focused their attention and resources on
primary care and preventive services—the kinds of help that can be
provided at low cost in a village or neighborhood clinic.
“We’ve pretty much picked that low-hanging fruit,” Amanda says.
“Now we’re thinking about health systems in a more integral way…
Not just the hospital buildings but the but structures and policies
that are needed to make hospitals function efficiently,
contributing to health.”
What can be done?
CGD’s Hospitals for Health Working Group’s newly released
consultation draft of its forthcoming report proposes a “Global
Hospitals Collaborative," an entity that would facilitate a
network of individuals and institutions dedicated to fostering
improved policymaking, investment, and management for
emerging-market hospitals. Specific activities would include
setting benchmarks, gathering and sharing data, analyzing the
barriers to more and better hospitals—and finding solutions.
“There’s a need to establish some kind of baseline,” Amanda says.
Those studying the problem lack the basic information needed find
solutions to the problem, she adds.
“A global collaborative could recommend directions for data and
analytics, possible reforms, and for learning one from the other,”
Wouldn’t the World Health Organization (WHO) be the proper home for
such an entity?
Amanda thinks not. “Now more than ever the WHO needs to be focused
on those global public goods of disease surveillance, control and
prevention, as we see in the case of Ebola,” she says.
While she believe the WHO needs to be deeply involved, she also
believes such a collaborative would benefit from the greater
flexibility available in a less institutionalized setting.
Learn more about why hospitals may be the missing link in
developing country health care and how the proposed collaborative
could help. Tune into the Wonkcast and read the
My thanks to Kristina
Wilson for recording and editing the Wonkcast and for a
first draft of this blog post.