In too many countries access to basic health services is severely limited. Commitments for assistance from the international community are variable and provided for finite periods. Financial support of this kind doesn’t allow for the long-term investments needed to build a comprehensive health care system, such as infrastructure and training the necessary personnel.

In the latest IBP brief, Gorik Ooms of the Institute of Tropical Medicine proposes the creation of a Global Health Fund that could provide constant long-term support to poor countries. He argues that-as the creation of the Global Fund did in the fight against AIDS-a Global Health Fund could provide an international foundation on which national social health protection could be built.

He argues further that such a fund is affordable and sustainable if one looks at total global health expenditure rather than at the revenue of individual poor countries. If we assume that the global economy can afford to spend the equivalent of 4 % of their GDP on health – which is far less than what most countries are currently spending on health – then a health expenditure level of US$ 300 per person per year would become affordable and sustainable.

Ooms also argues that in the last analysis, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights also puts a legal obligation on rich countries to support poor countries in this way.
What do you think? Will sustainable long term funding help poor countries create the health systems they need? And do you think that they creation of such a fund is sustainable?

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