Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Public Event

Does the IMF Constrain Health Spending in Poor Countries?

Friday, September 7, 2007 - 2:00pm to 4:00pm

It is hardly a secret that the International Monetary Fund has won few friends among the many organizations and individuals who work in global health.  People who have worked to mobilize unprecedented funding for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other health programs in low-income countries argue the IMF's approach to macroeconomic management has weakened efforts to improve health conditions in countries that are most heavily burdened by disease.  The IMF has responded by noting that its role does not include sector-level decision making and reminding critics that health priorities must take account of an overall budget constraint. 

In the fall of 2006, the Center for Global Development convened a Working Group of fifteen experts from policy-making positions in developing countries, academia, civil society and multilateral organizations to explore this issue and propose alternatives to this impasse. The group studied IMF fiscal policy design, the IMF role in the aid architecture, wage bill ceilings, and the disconnect between macroeconomic and health policymaking.  

On Friday, September 7, 2007, CGD Visiting Fellow David Goldsbrough, chairman of the Working Group, presented the group's key recommendations and discussed recent shifts in IMF policy. Discussants included Ambassador Amina Salum Ali, Permanent Representative to the African Union's Mission to the United States; José Sulemane, Former Director for Planning and Budget, Ministry of Finance, Mozambique and currently Advisor to IMF Executive Director; and Abdoulaye Bio Tchané, Director, African Department, International Monetary Fund. Nancy Birdsall, President, Center for Global Development, moderated this event.