Rajiv Shah at CSIS

June 30, 2010 By Eric Peckham

Yesterday, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on the President’s Global Health Initiative (GHI) and the steps USAID is taking to ensure not only its successful impact, but also its efficiency and long term-viability.  In order to improve health-care quality and access in poor and rural communities, USAID will integrate current clinics into more centralized and all-encompassing faculties , Dr. Shah said. This reduces the need for locals to travel to different clinics for each type of care that they need, and shifts the focus from treating disease to disease prevention and dealing with the specifics of each individual. By consolidating clinics, patients can receive medication, injury treatment, health and hygiene advice, and maternal services in one place at one time. This makes it easier to meet their overall health needs and saves taxpayer money at the same time.

Shah also highlighted that the Administration recognizes the key to both improving global health in the long term and doing so efficiently is to develop locally-operated health services rather than providing solely direct aid year after year. The United States will be “rooting our investments in those who will ultimately be seeing them through: [host] governments, NGOs, and the private sector,” so as to establish “the conditions that will reduce the need for future aid.” Shah also stated that “major operational reforms” are being introduced to USAID in order to foster “entrepreneurial energy and evidence-based decision making.” By cutting out unnecessary paperwork and administrative red tape, he hopes to give USAID employees more time to actually work with patients and communities on the Global Health Initiative and encourage them to come up with locally-appropriate solutions. He said it was this entrepreneurship and bending of the rules that allowed USAID to respond effectively to the earthquake in Haiti and has given birth to new tools like “text-4-baby,” which takes advantage of the increased ownership of cell phones in the developing world to text maternal and child health advice to poor and rural mothers.  Shah also insisted that USAID would increase monitoring and evaluation of all its projects to ensure money is only going to programs that work through “results-based financing.”

Watch USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah’s full speech here.