Public-Private Partnerships: The Key to Successfully Implementing the SDGs

The Brookings Institution and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently partnered to present a talk on utilizing public-private partnerships (PPPs) in order to effectively implement the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The SDGs are a list of goals, proposed by the UN, that target issues related to health, poverty, hunger, inequality, education, and climate change. According to the expert panel, partnerships connect decision-makers at the global level with the private sector, local governments, and civil society in an effort to capitalize on their specific strengths and balance their weaknesses.

Bill Gates speaking at a press conference at the end of the GAVI Alliance pledging event
Bill Gates speaking at a press conference at the end of the GAVI Alliance pledging event

For example, Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, is a PPP that provides access to vaccines in developing countries. The major players in this alliance consist of the World Health Organization, UNICEF, The World Bank, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Together, these organizations have successfully contributed scientific research, vaccines, and financial tools. According to Gavi, “Since its launch in 2000, [the alliance] has helped developing countries to prevent more than 7 million future deaths…Gavi support has contributed to the immunization of an additional 500 million children.” Gavi’s objectives were strategically implemented to produce results that protect developing populations and improve healthcare, which aligns with SDG 3 that aims to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.”

Partnerships are arguably the driving force behind the successful implementation of the SDGs. Governments are often slow and unreliable, while existing institutions like private corporations and civil society organizations have “on the ground” experience navigating the challenges inherent to their industry. The success of a PPP is determined by inclusivity, local implementation and ownership, transparency, accountability, political engagement, and strong focus on results. According to a study conducted by the OECD, “effective partnerships must have strong leadership, be country-led and context specific, apply the right type of action for the challenge, and maintain a clear focus on results.”

The SDGs also focus on more specific goals such as improving infrastructure, conserving oceans, and sustaining energy, which leaves room for partnerships to narrow their focus and innovate, particularly in the private sector. According to Devex, “Business leaders are still trying to understand the concept of sustainability, too, and how to integrate it into their business models.” The ODA method of developed countries donating funds to developing countries is ineffective since monetary aid does not specifically encourage the creation of new and sustainable systems. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Over the past 60 years at least $1 trillion of development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa. Yet real per-capita income today is lower than it was in the 1970s.” As is often the case, this money is lost in transit and never reaches the local level due to corrupt bureaucracies and weak relations with civil society organizations. Financial contributions from the private sector, when combined with effectual and enabling political leadership, move beyond temporary alleviation to foster a more permanent impact.

Public-private partnerships are a vital part of Goal 16, which seeks to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.” Ultimately, PPPs allow for a more inclusive and communicative atmosphere conducive to tackling important development issues on a more direct and practical platform that enables self-sufficiency and citizen accountability. If the SDGs are to be achieved, the vital role of PPPs cannot be ignored.


“A New Era of Philanthropy and Investment in Global Health” – A Close Look at the Global Health Giving Trends

As the world holistically tackles global issues in accordance with Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), numerous studies have been conducted on the global giving pattern in order to raise the cost-effectiveness of development assistance. However, few of them focus specifically on the global health sector. 

To fill in this gap, PSI partnered with Devex and Fenton Communications to publish a survey report on the global health funding . The report compiles global giving data from donors, and documents interviews with representatives from the pivotal global funding organizations. Although the aggregate giving data on global health is unavailable as explained in the letter from the editors, the work seeks to inspire further explorations and attentions into the “future of global health financing and inspire collaboration that leads to sustainable global health solutions.”

The report analyzes the giving patterns of government sector of the 23 members of OECD/DAC and the foundation sector including corporate and private donors.

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The Men in Black and the Campaign Against Polio In Pakistan

Polio is a viral disease that can affect the nerves and lead to full or partial paralysis. The most likely to get affected are the elderly, pregnant women and children under 5. Due to a global vaccination campaign, polio exists only in a handful of nations. One of these is Pakistan. According to the WHO, polio has declined from just under 1200 cases in 1997 to 28 cases in 2005. This is a remarkable trend that could see Pakistan finally become polio free.

Number of Polio Cases 1997-2006

To combat polio, the Government of Pakistan re-evaluated its National Emergency Action Plan (NEAP) and set the ambitious goal of eradicating all wild polio in Pakistan by the end of 2012. This plan seeks better accountability and program management.  In the districts where polio infections are high, such as those in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the plan seeks to improve the security situation in these areas so that health workers can have better access to vulnerable children. Last of all, the plan calls for an aggressive media campaign to educate and inform atrisk communities about the risks of polio and the need for vaccination.

On the international level, the WHO launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in Pakistan in 1994. This is a publicprivate partnership between the WHO, UNICEF, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other donors. Since 2000, it has followed the successful approach of supplementing routine polio immunization with large countrywide campaigns several times a year in an attempt to deliver the vaccine to all children under five. Continue reading

Just What the Physician’s Assistant Ordered

The United Nations Millennium Development Goals provide healthcare providers with ambitious objectives ranging from reversing the spread of the HIV virus, to reducing child and maternal mortality rates.  Unfortunately, meeting these goals is highly contingent upon an adequate supply of health care professionals.  Health Affairs estimates that Africa alone lacks 800,000 healthcare professionals necessary to meet the United Nations Millennium Development goals.  This shortage represents an expensive impediment to global development, the reversal of which requires billions of dollars in healthcare infrastructure investment.  Not to worry: new and innovative approaches to this issue are a cause for optimism.

Map detailing health care workforce shortage

One of the main issues contributing to health care professional shortages worldwide is the so-called “brain drain.”  Health care professionals that are trained in the developing world are emigrating in increasing numbers to developed nations in search of better jobs.  Indeed, as of 2010 there were more Ethiopian doctors in Chicago than there were in all of Ethiopia.  The effect of this mass exodus of doctors is doubly damaging, costing developing nations the resources invested in training doctors as well as the utility of a trained doctor.  While the issue is both prevalent and well documented, it proves difficult to address.  Indeed, in 2010 the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a document covering the global migration of health care professionals.  The issue is wrought with the inherent tension between the pernicious effects of migration and the right of individuals to pursue work wherever they choose. Continue reading

Stories in Development: Meeting the MDGs

In September of 2000, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Millennium Declaration, from which emerged the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that the members of the international community had agreed to try to achieve by 2015. Recently, the 4th MDG  (reduce the under 5 child mortality rate to 66% of 1990 levels) drew particular interest from the international community. Child mortality is measured in number of deaths per 1000 live births, and according to a recent article in the Economist, Africa is currently experiencing some of the biggest falls in child mortality.

Of the 20 African countries surveyed by the World Bank, 16 have recorded declines in their child mortality rates. Senegal, Rwanda, and Kenya have recently seen declines in child mortality by over 8% per year. Twelve other countries, including Uganda and Ghana, have recorded declines over 4% per year. These rates far exceed the global decline of 2.8% per year. The two regions, Sub Saharan Africa and Northern Africa have seen total declines of 28% and 68% respectively since 1990. Rarely do we hear such good news in development!

Decline of Child Mortality in Africa

Though the remarkable trend in the decline of child mortality in Africa is astounding, the trend in non African countries deserves some applause as well.  East Asia in particular has seen a 58% drop in child mortality between 1990 and 2008. Among these countries are Bangladesh, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and Nepal, all of whom have seen declines of 60% or more.

Currently, 9 million children die each year around the world before they reach their 5th birthday. The highest rate of child mortality continues to still be found in Sub-Saharan Africa. There are many factors influencing the child mortality rate in developing countries. Children in rural households have a higher risk of dying before they reach the age of five than children in urban settings. Children from the poorest households are 2-3 times more likely to die than children from richer households. For example, in a survey from 66 countries, children from the poorest 20% of households are twice as likely to die than the richest 20%. In addition, a mother’s education is a very powerful determinant of child survival. A child’s chances of survival increase with the level of education the mother receives. Continue reading

The Green Revolution’s not that bad – Is it?

Cassava plant, Machakos District, Kenya. Source: The Gates Foundation

From the 1940s to the 1970s, the Green Revolution was heralded as the key to ending world hunger. In fact, it did a lot of good in Mexico and India through the use of hybridized seeds. However, the excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers has had adverse effects on crop variety, market values, and has led small scale farmers to lose their jobs.  In addition, over time the growth rate in food supply fell. Popularity in the Green Revolution also fell as these issues became evident.

Since then, organizations such as the Gates Foundation and the Consortium Group on International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR) have attempted to revitalize the Green Revolution in favor of a “new Green Revolution.” Newer is better, yes? According the Bill Gates, the difference between the old Green Revolution and the new is that it is “guided by small-holder farmers, adapted to local circumstances, and sustainable for the economy and the environment.” Continue reading

CGP Water Series | Flushing into the 21st Century

Some philanthropists want their name on a college library. Bill Gates will settle for a toilet.

Maybe it will be the microwave toilet that “transform[s] human waste to electricity.”  Then again, a toilet that can recover energy through feces combustion and clean water through desalination sounds even more incredible.

On July 19, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced $42 million dollars in grants to “Reinvent the Toilet.” The two projects mentioned above are among the eight chosen to be the earliest recipients. By the end of the year, the Gates Foundation hopes to have 50-60 more toilet designs by teams across the world.

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