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[afro-nets] RFI: President's Malaria Initiative progress (6)

RFI: President's Malaria Initiative progress (6)

Dear Colleagues

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.


Peter Burgess

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