Call edition 2012
A new edition of the Prize of the Belgian Development Cooperation has been launched. This call is open until March 31st, 2011. You can read in the regulations whether you comply with the criteria for participation.
The subject of this very exceptional work is highly topical and relevant and goes to the heart of one of the major challenges in the current global landscape of international donor assistance to health care in low and middle income countries. How could what was initially an exclusively ‘vertically-orientated’ health programme concentrated on a limited – albeit significant – number of health problems also contribute to the strengthening of the general ‘horizontal’ health services that are – or should be – responsible for addressing a wide range of health problems? In recent years there has indeed been a remarkable turnaround within the Global Fund, with more attention clearly being paid – in both discourse and practice – to activities intended to support the general health system. Steinlage refers here to the concept of ‘diagonal approach’ that was recently described in the literature and which suggests a sort of compromise between vertical and horizontal approaches to health systems. She examines very carefully how this change has taken place within the Global Fund, doing so in a rigorous way and employing a methodology with a firmly scientific basis. More particularly Steinlage uses the method developed around John Kingdon’s theory of ‘policy windows’ – opportunities for action on given initiatives. Kingdon’s theory rests on the notion that at certain critical moments, when separate streams come together, ideas and actions are placed high on the agenda and are accepted by policy makers because ‘their time has come’. The central hypothesis of the research was that the strengthening of health systems in 2007 formally became a policy option of the Global Fund because a series of converging factors – including especially a number of staff changes at the top of the organization – led to a window of opportunity. Steinlage collected data via two channels – a comprehensive and detailed examination of official documents of the Global Fund on one hand and a series of semi-structured interviews with representatives of the Fund on the other. Finally, it should be noted that it is not only the content of this thesis that is high in quality – it is also a highly original and beautifully written piece of work.
Report: Prof. B. Criel, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Public Health Department, Antwerp, Belgium