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Lifting the Burden of Malaria: One year later

February 19, 2010

Happy Friday, everyone! It has been one year since the release of our first philanthropic investment guide in global health titled, Lifting the Burden of Malaria: An Investment Guide for Impact-Driven Philanthropy. Authored by Dr. Carol McLaughlin, et al., the guide identifies three strategies for philanthropists to consider in the fight against malaria: 1) Treat & Prevent Now; 2) Build Systems for the Long Term; 3) Innovate for the Future.

Philanthropists can play a critical role in supporting effective prevention and treatment for malaria, a major and needless killer of children. This guide shows you evidence-based models to support.– Carol McLaughlin, research director for global public health

This foundational research is a free, downloadable document (92pgs), also available in hard copy for $35, that addresses the following 3 questions:

  1. What is a meaningful change (impact) to target?
  2. What activities lead to that meaningful change for communities suffering from malaria?
  3. How much does it cost to achieve that change?

The guide provides case examples of promising programs, practices, and interventions to show how philanthropic investment can make adifference. Certain strategies are marked as Promising Practices that were selected using the following criteria:

  • Targets what current data indicate are unmet needs
  • Uses practices that are informed by the existing evidence base for what works
  • Recognizes and insists on a set of core implementation components to ensure impact, but also demonstrates an ability to adapt to local contexts
  • Has been (or is willing to be) examined by a neutral third party in the case of more mature programs

Given the recent earthquake disaster in Haiti, the guide had identified the country of Haiti as a malaria “hotspot,” in addition to the Sub-Saharan countries of Africa which are the guide’s main focus. Other countries were Papua New Guinea and Myanmar. For more information on our ongoing blog series Haiti: How Can I Help, please visit this link: http://blog.impact.upenn.edu/tag/haiti/. We are also in the process of preparing a philanthropic investment guide using Haiti as a case example. A preliminary presentation will be showcased at the Global Philanthropy Forum in April, with Kat Rosqueta, our executive director, as a guest speaker.

Since its release last February 2009, Lifting the Burden of Malaria has been featured on the National Institutes of Health, Fogarty International Center as a “new tool for malaria philanthropy,” was reviewed by Alanna Shaikh on the Change.org Global Health website, and listed as a resource on the World Malaria Day website. In addition, you can find the guide mentioned on the web in the following places:

Also, in order to provide ongoing resources, updates, and promote continuing discussions on ideas and issues related to malaria, I have created a twitter account: @ImpactMalaria. Follow us and send us a 140 character message, whether it’s feedback, suggestions of a Promising Practice, or if you have a specific question for the authors.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 19, 2010 1:54 pm

    Dear Colleagues

    The international malaria industry has grown from funding of around $100 million a year to more than $2 billion a year in the last decade. In that time there have been many indicators of progress … but I would argue, not of success.

    As a former corporate cost accountant and CFO, I am appalled at the lack of performance metrics in a $2 billion fund flow. From what I know of malaria science, the approach to the disbursement of these moneys has been based very little on facts from the place, but incredibly broad generalizations of what the results should be based on rather modest tests in different places and with different conditions.

    The biggest measure in play is how much money has been spent, and how many bednets have been delivered. What we need to know is how much the malaria parasite has declined in the human host and in the mosquito … and how little money it took to fund interventions to achieve this … and more important, also how little money it will take to maintain this improved situation.

    Many programs have a focus on the mortality of young children and pregnant women. This gives an easy big percent result … but is rather unimportant in the overall sustainable control of malaria. The big joke in malaria circles is that Zanzibar has recently eliminated malaria … for the third time!

    Bluntly put … the malaria community needs to get serious about performance. The huge fund flows of the last few years should have made a big difference to the sustainable reduction in malaria burden … but evidence of this is inconclusive, at best. Some organizations have funding to do measurement … but from a public perspective it is a waste of money since none of the data that seem to be accessible do very much to measure either progress or performance.

    Peter Burgess
    Community Analytics (CA)
    Integrated Malaria Management (IMM)

  2. impactsp2walden permalink*
    February 19, 2010 2:38 pm

    Hello Peter,

    I appreciate your continued dialogue and concerns around performance measurement and accounting practices. I remember reading an article not too long ago in The Economist that echoed your message: http://www.economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15213715. I remember we spoke on the phone last year about these same issues.
    Also, are you familiar with David Roberts and his work with New Dominion Philanthropy Metrics? I learned of the organization last December while browsing the web: http://www.ndpmetrics.com. Dr. Roberts will be on a conference call next Monday, February 22nd at 1 PM EST/ 10 AM PST. See details here: http://tacticalphilanthropy.com/2010/02/qualitative-evaluation-conference-call. I will check out Community Analytics too, as I was only familiar with your work at TRACnet before.

    Autumn 🙂

  3. February 28, 2010 1:12 am

    Dear Autumn

    I am familiar with a lot of the material published by the Economist … and am aware that there are many initiatives to improve metrics to include a socio-economic component … or corporate social responsibility … or green … or something else.

    I like to think that Community Analytics (CA) is a better mousetrap. Two reasons (1) it is all about the progress of the community and not about the organization or the activity, and (2) it is about ANY interventions that produces or impedes community progress.

    Sadly, I have around 50 years of working on these issues in both the corporate and the development communities. If we get the measures right, we will get the progress right. But the reality is that the accountancy profession, aided by the academic and political community, has completely dropped the ball … leaving us all in an incredible mess.

    The sub-prime bubble was bad enough … but then the multi-layered derivative mess … and now it appears that the derivative virus is now implicated in sovereign debt misrepresentation. It seems to me there is a case for accountability somewhere here!

    Peter Burgess
    Community Analytics (CA)

  4. August 10, 2010 10:31 am

    It’s hard to say if the 2 billion has made a big impact but on the fight but I would say it is has. The amount being spent will give you an idea of just how big of a problem this is. Of course until this is 100% wiped out I won’t consider it a success.

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