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Bull World Health Organ. 2017 Feb 1;95(2):121-127. doi: 10.2471/BLT.16.179861.

Political commitment for vulnerable populations during donor transition.

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Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 North Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205, United States of America .
Centre for International Governance Innovation, Balsillie School of International Affairs, Waterloo, Canada .


in English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, Spanish

The responsibilities for the programmatic, technical and financial support of health programmes are increasingly being passed from external donors to governments. Programmes for family planning, human immunodeficiency virus, immunization, malaria and tuberculosis have already faced such donor transition, which is a difficult and often political process. Wherever programmes and services aimed at vulnerable populations are primarily supported by donors, the post-transition future is uncertain. Overreliance on donor support is often a reflection of limited domestic political commitment. Limited commitment, which is frequently expressed as the persecution of vulnerable groups, poses a risk to individuals as well as to the effectiveness and sustainability of health programmes. We argue that, for reasons linked to human rights, the social contract and the cost-effectiveness of health promotion, prevention and treatment programmes, it is critical that governments sustain health services for vulnerable populations during and after donor transition. Although civil society organizations could help by engaging with government stakeholders, pushing to change social norms and supporting mechanisms that demand accountability, they may be constrained by economic, political and social factors. Vulnerable populations need to be actively involved in the planning and implementation of donor transition - to ensure that their voice and needs are taken into account and to establish a platform that improves visibility and accountability. As transitions spread across all aspects of global health, transparent conversations about the building and sustainment of political commitment for health services for vulnerable populations become a critical human rights issue.

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