Looking for Justice in Time of Austerity

Jul 1, 2015

HAI's Executive Director, Dr. James Pfeiffer

HAI’s Executive Director, Dr. James Pfeiffer

“Why do so many NGOs receive so much aid funding while national health systems languish?”  So writes Dr. James Pfeiffer, HAI’s Executive Director, in a new piece published by the American Journal of Public Health.

The article, called “Health and Justice in a Time of Austerity,” asks readers to consider why development aid dollars continue to pour into international NGOs, while local Ministries of Health remain so strapped for cash that it can be hard to pay monthly electricity bills?  Often, Pfeiffer points out, this can be traced back to international lending institutions, such as the IMF, that tie strings to the loans and assistance they distribute – strings which usually end up tying the hands of a government’s ability to respond to the most basic needs of its people.

Are we in the development community missing the point?  How can we expect to prevent or stop major outbreaks of disease when the systems we are supposed to be supporting are often hanging on by a thread?

The piece is a powerful one, culminating in a call to rethink the way international aid is allocated and to dismantle the notion that austerity will bring economic growth.

Learn more about HAI’s advocacy programs and the NGO Code of Conduct for Health Systems Strengthening.

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