READERS RESPONSES

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Issue 180: Africa’s digital divide initiatives - time for a reality check

A colleague pointed out the following paragraph from Balancing Act 180.

"The key is always does the information have use-value" and will it make a difference to the user. We listened to a presentation of a project to collect health statistics electronically in a country which barely has the connectivity to make this possible. Even if by some miracle it had been possible to do it by tomorrow, how would the information produce different decisions? No-one seemed terribly clear. One might guess that the local doctor makes intolerable choices about allocating resources between many overwhelming health demands. But how would a statistical description of his or her dilemma help change the shape of the problem? Perhaps the fallacy is that better information will always drive better decision-making. The project seems to have difficulty passing the "will it make a difference?" test."

I just wanted to point out that the premise that better demographic surveillance would lead to substantial health budget savings is one that has been undergoing a live test for the last 7 years in Tanzania. It is called that Tanzanian Essential Health Interventions Project (TEHIP) and was funded by IDRC. The premise of the project is that if better information was known about the burden of disease (what diseases are killing what people and where) then health services and pharmaceuticals could be targeted to the appropriate regions; driving mortality rates down and cost savings up. The results of the project have confirmed this premise and more. Have a look at
http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=1280587
and
http://web.idrc.ca/en/ev-45726-201-1-DO_TOPIC.html

Steve Song
IDRC