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Partnership Becoming Central Aspect Of Health-Related Foreign Assistance

In an opinion piece in The Atlantic, Lindsay Abrams, an editorial fellow with the Atlantic Health channel, examines how a “new culture of questioning, commonly attributed to the signing of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness in 2005, … is now driving the [WHO] to change the way international aid is delivered.” She continues, “The reform, which now includes close to 60 signatories, is driven by coordination,” noting, “Donors, be they contributing governments or non-state actors, don’t just go into developing countries and start implementing their own programs. Instead, they’re asked to contribute to a single health plan, which is managed and implemented by the government receiving the aid.” She adds, “The initiative, called International Health Partnership, sounds idealistic, but made a certain kind of sense when discussed last week at the World Health Assembly, an annual gathering of the WHO’s 194 member states that just wrapped up in Geneva.”

“One of the most surreal aspects of the two weeks of policy talk and resolution making that took place there was the equal footing given, at least theoretically, to each country represented,” Abrams continues, adding, “This diplomatic equality made it possible for the ministers of health from countries most often on the receiving end of aid — Rwanda, Ethiopia, Myanmar, and Senegal — to stand up, at a side meeting attended by about 200 people, and accuse those countries with the money and power to direct international development of undermining their own investments, by failing to allow the countries they claim to be helping to have any say in where the money goes.” She writes, “International aid has always been driven by good intentions; unfortunately, good intentions don’t always guarantee results.” She concludes, “As we begin to allow developing nations to ‘dare to innovate,’ as [Kampeta Sayinzoga, representing Rwanda's Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning,] put it, and as aid becomes more about collaboration than competition for prestige, it’s something we’re coming closer to figuring out” (5/29).