By Dagfinn Høybråten
As economies grow in The South, countries hit by financial crisis in The North, including European countries, are rethinking their strategies for development cooperation.
Rather than merely cutting back on their official development assistance (ODA) or retreating to programmes that merely serve their self-interest, donor countries should renew their thinking as well as their models for fighting poverty and enhancing social and economic development.
The new thinking of what could be called smart development” needs to rid itself of any old paternalistic patterns where donors know best, or aim to promote their own ways. Sovereign countries need to be in the drivers seat, their plans must be the foundation; their ambition must fuel the process. Smart development is about growth that can be sustained and gradually make developing countries independent of the elements of aid.
The rather impressive growth in The South poses new questions of development for poor people who are not necessary living in poor countries anymore. This has caused a revival of attention to the universality of health and social rights. Smart development models are those linking these rights with more robust taxation systems that will secure a level of fulfilment of these rights in the new economic era. Countries like Ghana and Rwanda are examples of how this may be done.
Over the last decade, the GAVI Alliance (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation) has demonstrated a way of smart development well fitted for the 21st Century challenges. Through a unique partnership between governments, multilateral organisations and the private sector programmes for scaling up vaccination of children and introducing new life saving vaccines, more than 5.5 million unnecessary and premature deaths have been prevented in the poorest parts of the world.
GAVI’s mission is about granting all children their human right to basic protection against deadly diseases.
Countries are eligible for support based on their level of per capita Gross National Income (GNI) below or equal to US$ 1,550, but they all co-pay for vaccines through their national immunisation programme. As their economies grow, their co-payment increases until they reach the threshold for graduation where they may still benefit from reasonable GAVI prices for vaccines, but without GAVI support.
China is a good example of a country that received GAVI support for their nationwide introduction of hepatitis B vaccine between 2002 and 2006. Since then China has graduated from GAVI and is now considering how to contribute to GAVI.
As the European Union leads the world in seeking to build strong foundations for sustainable development, I believe the GAVI model offers an example of smart development well suited the economic dynamic of our times.
Multilateral development reviews by the UK, Sweden and Australia among others have praised this model for being cost-efficient and results-focused. I think the GAVI way offers a direction for countries reconsidering a model which is not only smart, but also right and just.
Dagfinn Høybråten is the chair of the GAVI Alliance Board and the secretary general of the Nordic Council of Ministers. Prior to these positions Mr Høybråten held several senior positions in Norwegian Government. Prior to these positions Mr Høybråten has held several senior positions in the Norwegian Government including serving as an MP, health minister and as a vice chair of the Norwegian Parliament.