Health Policy Project

The Health Policy Project has ended, but work continues under a new USAID five-year project, Health Policy Plus (HP+).


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Health Policy as a Global Public Good: Development Leaders Share Their Perspectives
Photo of Sarah Clark introducing the topic.

Sarah Clark from Futures Group opens the panel discussion Sustaining U.S. Investments: The Future of Global Health Policy.

You can watch highlights from the discussion and keynote on our YouTube channel.

Photo of Ellen Starbird presenting the Keynote.

"Without evidence-based health policies created through wide participation, health systems will remain strained and unsupported, civil society will remain excluded from the policy process, and global goals will remain aspirational." — Ellen Starbird, USAID

Photo of Suneeta Sharma talking animatedly.

Two foundations of HPP's work in 33 countries are "stakeholder analysis and economic analysis." With this information, "it is possible to tailor policy messages to the interests of the person you're talking to and also to explain what modeling shows will happen if you do nothing." — Suneeta Sharma, Health Policy Project

Photo of Christine Sow making a point.

Forceful advocates can come from innovative "partnerships with folks who have similar goals, common priorities, and common concerns, but different incentives." Global health organizations need to "find language and frameworks to work with them."
— Christine Sow, Global Health Council

Photo of John Townsend speaking.

"We know a lot about married women; we know a lot about men; we don't know much about adolescents and the data base on unmarried youth is particularly thin. So we need to continue to invest in evidence."— John Townsend, Population Council

Photot of Ani Shakarishvili discussing a point.

"The most powerful way to persuade governments and other stakeholders to invest in health is to show them the evidence for the results. Those results at both national and local levels are critical." — Ani Shakarishvili, UNAIDS

Photo of Sarak Clark watching a participant ask a question.

Want to know more about health policy as a global public good?
You can read the brief, Beyond 2015: How Health Policy Can Help Countries Prepare for the Future.

WASHINGTON, DC—Global health leaders came together on the afternoon of January 13 to share their views on sustainable responses to the changing landscape of development work. The Health Policy Project (HPP), which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, convened the forum at its new Washington, DC office. More than 100 guests attended, representing diverse sectors of the global health community.

Speakers at the event included Ellen Starbird, director of USAID’s Office of Population and Reproductive Health, who gave the keynote address; Suneeta Sharma, HPP’s director; Ani Shakarishvili, M.D., senior adviser in the U.S. Office of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS); Christine Sow, executive director of the Global Health Council; and John Townsend, vice president of the Population Council. Todd Summers, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, moderated the panel.

Mr. Summers compared the difference between development work “that translates easily into lives saved and therefore has a political attraction, such as treating people with AIDS” and “nastier, longer, muckier work, such as health systems strengthening, which can show benefits only in the long term, and usually far beyond” what is compelling “in the political sphere.” When asked how she makes the case for this effort, both within and outside USAID, Ms. Starbird responded

“Policy is foundational in creating lasting change. You can do things in the absence of policy, but ultimately it’s going to come back and bite you somehow. In study after study, building champions and getting policy right. . . make things move.”

According to Ms. Starbird, health policy’s evolution over the past 50 years—“from a time when pronatalist policies were the norm to today, when the multiple benefits of voluntary family planning and reproductive health programs are increasingly understood and valued—created the foundation for a “remarkable improvement in health outcomes.” Examples include dramatic increases in modern contraceptive prevalence and decreases in maternal and child mortality. However, she remarked that much work remains to be done; this, too, will require a robust policy environment with wide participation. For this reason, Ms. Starbird remarked that health policy must be treated “as a global public good”—essential “to the sustainability of all of our health activities and programs.”

Sustaining U.S. Investments: The Future of Global Health Policy 

Dr. Sharma noted Ms. Starbird’s emphasis on wide participation in policy development, stressing the importance of “placing people at the center of health policy.” She cited the promotion of equity, inclusivity, and human rights as one of five ways that health policy can prepare low- and middle-income countries and their development partners to adapt to ongoing and emerging challenges in the global health landscape. The other four, she added, are to “build strong, resilient health systems; support local health governance; strengthen the accountability of government institutions, public officials, and health service providers; and ensure sustainable health financing from global to local levels.”

See Beyond 2015: How Health Policy Can Help Countries Prepare for the Future for the Health Policy Project’s perspectives on how this global public good can prepare low- and middle-income countries and their development partners to adapt to ongoing and emerging challenges in the global health landscape.

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The Health Policy Project is a five-year cooperative agreement funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development under Agreement No. AID-OAA-A-10-00067, beginning September 30, 2010. The project's HIV-related activities are supported by the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). It is implemented by Futures Group, in collaboration with Plan International USA, Avenir Health (previously Futures Institute), Partners in Population and Development, Africa Regional Office (PPD ARO), Population Reference Bureau (PRB), RTI International, and White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood (WRA). The information provided on this Web site is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

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