A note on this page's publication date
The content on this page has not been recently updated. This content is likely to be no longer fully accurate, both with respect to the research it presents and with respect to what it implies about our views and positions.
- Donors can have large impact -- saving a life for a few thousand dollars -- when giving to an international health charity.1
- Some programs have strong track records of success (including bed nets for malaria and vaccines for children); others have much spottier track records (including water programs)
- Our top charity recommendations in the field of international health are the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative and the Deworm the World Initiative, led by Evidence Action
Published: 2009; Updated: 2011
We believe that developing-world health is an extremely promising area for a donor.
As the publication Millions Saved argues, there are many health programs that can be shown - fairly rigorously and convincingly - to have had a large impact on health outcomes, on a large scale (more discussion of this publication.) On an even broader scale, health aid is often credited with contributing to a dramatic decline in developing-world infant mortality since 1960.2 This contrasts with the areas of developing-world education and economic empowerment, which are associated with relatively few well-established and widely accepted cases of positive impact on life outcomes.
We have generally found that while rigorous impact studies are rare in the areas of education and economic empowerment, there are many medical interventions whose impact on life outcomes is strongly supported. For more information, see our full list of several of the most promising programs, with links to detailed writeups.
For more information see our developing-world health cause overviews:
- Easterly, Willam. 2008. Can the West Save Africa? (PDF). NBER Working Paper 14363.
- Gates, Bill. 2009. Annual Letter. http://www.gatesfoundation.org/annual-letter/Pages/2009-preventing-child... (accessed May 7, 2010). Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/5pYsdjcPl
See, for example:
- Easterly 2008, Pgs 53-55.
- Gates 2009.