The Challenges of Creating a Global Health Resource Tracking System
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In recognition of the enormous health needs of developing countries-most notably stemming from infectious diseases and the lack of basic health care, clean water, adequate sanitation, and food-and, more recently, of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — which call for a dramatic reduction in poverty and marked improvements in the health of the poor by the year 2015 — governments, international organizations, for-profit corporations, and nonprofit organizations throughout the world regularly provide both cash and in-kind health resources to developing countries. These health resources are not tracked on a global level, however, which means that policymakers do not have the comprehensive, accurate, and timely data they need to identify resource gaps, target assistance, avoid duplication of effort, and track progress toward the MDGs. The RAND Corporation assessed existing systems for tracking health resource flows to and within developing countries to determine the purpose, content, strengths, and limitations of these systems, with the objective of determining the characteristics that a truly global health resource tracking system must have to meet the needs of potential users and address the limitations of current systems. The study involved extensive interviews with people key to the operation and/or management of all major health resource data collections, detailed analyses of these data collections, literature reviews, and a technical consultation with experts involved in health resource tracking.