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Thinking

Donations for global public health in a pandemic year

Since 2014, I’ve donated one-tenth of my salary/income to end poverty. I do so alongside thousands of other folks, having pledged to via Giving What We Can.

The idea is that we in richer countries are very wealthy in the grand scheme of things and a small portion of our income can be transformative when donated to effective charities. For my money, pun intended, that’s those working on health interventions for children in poorer countries. Of my attempts to be vaguely useful, this is probably the best thing I do, even if I never meet those it helps.

It’s slightly complicated, as I switched from a permanent role to freelancing at the beginning of April 2020, but I think my income is around £30k. So today I’m donating £3k to the Centre for Effective Altruism’s Global Health & Development Fund. They do the job of allocating it between a few very useful charities: Against Malaria Foundation, Schistosomiasis Control Initiative and others. They used to provide a breakdown in terms of numbers of nets, tablets etc, and ultimately lives saved, but that appears to have gone from the website… possibly because they donate to a broader range of organisations and projects now.

This is my seventh year of donations, so I’ll have donated about £21,000, which, with gift aid, looks more like £26k or so. That’s a lot of bed nets, a lot of deworming tablets, a lot of micronutrients and thus a lot more healthy children and a lot less poverty. As I said, probably the most useful thing I’ve done.

I think a global taxation and universal health coverage scheme would be better, but until that comes along, do join in. (Particularly if you’re in the UK, who’s government recently reneged on its aid spending pledge.) By taking a public pledge with thousands of others, we’re also trying to make this a normal thing to do. (You don’t have to start with 10% — and you can find out how rich you are in global terms, here.)

Side note: on actually getting to a place of global health coverage, it’s been interesting that global health was the news and political agenda of 2020. Some of the news brought back memories of studying global health governance years ago, e.g. I didn’t know that ProMED, a pretty simple mailing list, is still how public health professionals learn about infectious disease outbreaks. (In my MA dissertation, I used ProMED as an example of how distributed governance was the direction that more-democratic global governance would go in, rather than more top-down institutions like a global parliament.)

In the many enquiries that take place post-Covid-19 (assuming there is a post-Covid-19, or at least a post-emergency period) — I hope that better global health provision and better global health governance will be high on the agenda.

Until next year…

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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