By Rohit Sudarshan
The future of traditional foreign assistance is in a precarious situation. Over the past five years, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries that contribute the largest share of international aid—namely Australia, France, and the U.S.—have seen a downward trend in official development assistance (ODA) as a percentage of gross national income (GNI). Additionally, the United Kingdom’s development agency, DFID, is currently handling a surge of fraud investigations regarding their foreign aid. Countries that are global leaders must promote other financial means for international development. Few options are as important and efficient as remittances.
Remittances are payments made by immigrants to families and friends in their country of origin and represent an effective method for those in developing countries to continue to improve their standard of living. While ODA requires the coordination of government agencies as well as policymakers from many countries, remittances do not face that same constraint. The difficulty in ensuring accountability has meant that governments have misused and absorbed aid money. For these reasons, remittances can be an appealing alternative; they can move expediently and directly to a recipient that needs it.
By Motoki Aoki
Pakistan’s Punjab Province, home to more than 101 million people, has the potential to become one of the world’s largest economies in the twenty-first century. However, a strong economy requires a healthy populace. Despite robust economic growth over the last decade, the Punjab government allocates as low as 0.7 percent of its spending to healthcare, compared to the OECD average of 8.9 percent. Infant mortality in Punjab is 77 deaths per 1,000 live births, and mortality for children under five is 112 in 1,000, compared to the OECD averages of 2.9 and 4.2 respectively. Although Punjab has made a gradual progress on these two health indicators in the last decade, both are still short of the MDG targets of 52 deaths per 1,000 live births for under-five mortality, and 40 deaths per 1,000 live births for infant mortality.
The major issues in Punjab’s health services run the gamut from financial mismanagement to insufficient resources to absenteeism of doctors and other staff. In light of its failure to achieve MDG targets, the government of Punjab announced in June that it will outsource day-to-day operations and management of all public health facilities in 10 districts to private parties starting in November 2015. These locations span from the smallest healthcare facilities to district hospitals, totaling 669 health facilities. The government will continue to own the physical facilities and remain accountable for overseeing the quality of healthcare delivered. Continue reading