Methodological and Policy Limitations of Quantifying the Saving of Lives: A Case Study of the Global Fund’s Approach

PLOS: 10/1/13
  • A recent trend in global health has been a growing emphasis on assessing the effectiveness and impact of specific health interventions.
  • For example, it has been estimated that 8.7 million lives were saved between 2002 and mid-2012 by “Global Fund–supported programmes” (as distinct from The Global Fund alone) through antiretroviral therapy (ART); directly observed tuberculosis treatment, short course (DOTS); and distribution of insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs).
  • This paper assesses the methods used by The Global Fund to quantify “lives saved,” highlights the uncertainty associated with the figures calculated, and suggests that the methods are likely to overestimate the number of “lives saved.”
  • The paper also discusses how the attribution of “lives saved” to specific programmes or actors might negatively affect the overall governance and management of health systems, and how a narrow focus on just ART, DOTS, and ITNs could neglect other interventions and reinforce vertical programmes. Read more