New health technologies in foreign aid: NYC roundtable
The Council on Foreign Relations is organizing an upcoming Global Health Roundtable Series, May-July about putting effective health technologies to work in developing countries. In each session, a specific technology will be explored that appears to offer life-saving benefits, and ask why that innovation is under-utilized, poorly funded, even controversial. Topics include:
– Male circumcision
– Eye glasses
– HPV and HIV vaccines
– Single use syringes
I would suggest several more: misoprostol for treatment of postpartum hemorrhage (one of the leading causes of maternal death in low-income countries), relatively simple cataract surgery (think Aravind eye care), fistula repair, cleaner burning cook stoves, and resilient point-of-use water filters.
More important than any particular technology, and getting directly to the question of utilization, effective finance strategies are needed. In much the same way that US food aid is being reframed as a local demand issue, these technologies will only be successfully scaled when local demand is strong. Perhaps nothing demonstrates this more clearly than male circumcision. It requires choice and volition. Strategies like the use of subsidized vouchers for circumcisions at accredited providers empowers the patient or patients’ parents to find a high quality circumcision provider. New voucher projects in Uganda and Kenya offer lessons for management of voucher programs for health services.