July 06, 2010

Saving 10 million Women and Children by 2015 Will Cost Around $100-200 Billion

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There was an estimate of $30 billion to save the lives of 10 million women and children but this cost estimate does not include other heathcare improvements needed to save all of those lives. The actual cost estimate is about $100-200 billion, but those programs still seem worthwhile and cost justified.

A serious omission is that the price tag does not include HSS [Health system strengthening], i.e., the costs to scale up the system-wide components, including human resources, which would allow programs to function effectively. According to the WHO estimates for the HLTF, US$185.7 billion is needed for HSS. Again, a substantial proportion of this figure is highly relevant to saving the women and children.

The Consensus for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health suggests that US$30 billion will save “the lives of over 10 million women and children by 2015”, a suggestion that has gained traction among donors and MNCH advocates. But the US$30 billion alone is unlikely to save over 10 million lives, since it must be complemented by a huge amount of additional funding for human resources and other crosscutting health system components.

A recent UNFPA study estimates that meeting existing needs for family planning and maternal and newborn health alone would cost an additional US$12.8 billion annually. This estimate—which includes the costs of drugs and supplies, human resource costs, and other health systems costs needed for effective service delivery—indicates that many more resources are required for scaling up MNCH interventions than are stated in the PMNCH Consensus.

The US$30 billion program costs do not include the costs of HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria interventions relevant to MNCH (e.g., drugs to treat children with malaria). Nor do they include the costs to increase access to essential drugs for treating chronic and neglected tropical diseases. The additional costs of including interventions for HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria and essential drugs specifically for mothers, newborns, and children is unclear from the HLTF report. The report only gives the total figures for these four health programs across the whole population: US$15.13 billion is needed for HIV/AIDS, US$7.25 billion for malaria, US$4.78 billion for TB, and US$9.78 billion to increase access to essential drugs. A substantial proportion of these costs will be relevant to MNCH.

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