RFI: President's Malaria Initiative progress (6)
I am struck by how difficult it seems to be to get information about the (US)
President's Malaria Initiative (PMI) and especially hard information about the
costs and the results of activities being financed by the program.
I followed up to look into the MU-UCSF cooperation, and liked what I found ...
up to a point. It is nice to have academic cooperation, and it is good to see
the inclusion of African researchers in the process.
But I would like to see some performance metrics that would help me to
understand how much has been spent and what has been accomplished that is
actually improving the quality of life of needy beneficiaries.
The relief and development sector (RDS) does very little to measure performance
... to measure the relationship between resources used and the value of the
results that are realized. All too often the dominant measure is a number that
refers to resources consumed (perhaps in the form of the funding obtained) and
some information like "studies have led to over 30 publications" and
observations like "have impacted on the management of malaria in Africa".
To my mind the RDS needs much better metrics so that decision makers can
differentiate between activities that cost little and deliver good value, and
those that cost a lot and produce little of value. How much money has been
spent (and what was it spent on) related to how much has malaria prevalence
been reduced (and what socio-economic value this might have). This is basic
cost and management accounting ... nothing sophisticated. If it is not simple,
it is probably not a good metric. And one way to get metrics to be simple and
understandable, is to make them area (community) specific.
In the malaria segment of the health sector, it seems pretty clear that Africa
has not benefitted very much in the past several decades from scientific
knowledge that could have reduced the prevalence of malaria around the
continent. But it is also quite likely that additional funding and the
increased interest in malaria will result in much less actually progress in
reducing the prevalence of malaria than it should, simply because this metric
is not being used to drive decision making and the work being done.
I may be wrong ... but the management information needed is not easily
available. And in my view, until good management information about RDS
performance is easily available, waste of resources and poor performance will
remain the norm.