Blog post

What We've Been Reading

4 min read
21 Apr 2013


This week's list of recommended reading includes: Financing Global Health 2012: The End of the Golden Age?; IHME’s fourth annual report on global health expenditure, a post on the Givewell blog about deworming cost-effectiveness, Haiti's man-made hell, an account of how efforts to relieve problems caused by the earthquake in Haiti did more harm than good, and an article on the recent permission given for aid money to be spent on the military>

Financing Global Health 2012: The End of the Golden Age?

This "is IHME’s fourth annual report on global health expenditure and includes preliminary estimates for health financing in the most recent years. In this year’s report, IHME built on its past data collection and analysis efforts to monitor the resources made available through development assistance for health (DAH) and government health expenditure (GHE). It confirms what many in the global health community expected: After reaching a historic high in 2010, overall DAH declined slightly in 2011, with some organizations and governments spending more and others spending less."

Guest post from David Barry about deworming cost-effectiveness

"This is a guest post by David Barry, a GiveWell supporter. He emailed us at the end of December to point out some mistakes and issues in our cost-effectiveness calculations for deworming, and we asked him to write up his thoughts to share here. We made minor wording and organizational suggestions but have otherwise published as is; we have not vetted his sources or his modifications to our spreadsheet for comparing deworming and cash. Note that since receiving his initial email, we have discussed the possibility of paying him to do more work like this in the future."

Haiti's man-made hell

"A shocking account of how the world failed Haiti"

David Cameron gives green light for aid cash to go on military

"Hundreds of millions of pounds from Britain's aid budget are expected to be diverted to peacekeeping defence operations as the government moves to build up support on the Tory benches for overseas development. Amid deep unease among Conservative MPs at the size of the £10bn aid budget, which has increased while defence spending has been cut, David Cameron said on Wednesday that he was "very open" to the idea of pooling more resources."tart out by joining forces with an established organization who's already working on what you care about. Seriously, unless you're already ridiculously rich + brilliant or ludicrously influential, going solo or further fragmenting the philanthropic world by creating US-Charity#1,238,202 is almost certainly a mistake. Now that we're all working together here, let's keep in mind that only a few charitable organizations are truly great investments -- and the vast majority just aren't. So maximize your leverage by investing your time and money into supporting the best non-profits with the largest expected pay-offs."

Cost-effectiveness of nets vs. deworming vs. cash transfers - GiveWell Blog

"This post discusses how we see the relative "bang-for-the-buck" - good accomplished per dollar spent - of three interventions: Distribution of insecticide-treated nets to fight malaria, the intervention carried out by our #1 charity (the Against Malaria Foundation). Unconditional direct cash transfers, the intervention carried out by our #2 charity (GiveDirectly) Treating children for parasites (soil-transmitted helminths and schistosomiasis (also knows as bilharzia, bilharziosis or snail fever)), the intervention carried out by our #3 charity (the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative)."

"International health experts are warning of a mounting health crisis in parts of Africa because of an influx of counterfeit medicine from Asia that is playing havoc with the treatment of diseases such as malaria."

"Precise data is hard to track down because of the informal nature of African health systems. But several recent studies warn that as many as one-third of malaria drugs in Uganda and Tanzania are fake or substandard, with most believed to originate in China or India."

An Economist's Guide to Year-End Charitable Giving Freakonomics

"The end of the year is a giving season for many (I suppose a cynical economist might think tax deductions has something to do with it). Most of us like to make sure we're making well-researched and wise decisions when it comes to our money, be it reading the online reviews before a purchase or investing our savings. By contrast, donating to charities can seem like a "black box." Many of us our rely on what feels right or seek out an organization in an area we have a personal connection to, but examining some bad habits about charity giving might help make sure our dollars go farther this giving season."

10 bad giving habits:

"Bad Giving Habit #5: Giving to things that advertise well, rather than to what works

I've seen hundreds of charities and aid organizations in my work as a development economist and with my work with the non-profit I founded, Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA). IPA evaluates the effectiveness of poverty interventions around the world, and then works to scale-up the ideas most cost effective. Knowing if an organization is having an impact can be difficult, but there are a couple of shortcuts you can take."