International Decision Support Initiative awarded US$12.8m grant from the Gates Foundation

In January 2016, the international Decision Support Initiative (iDSI, www.idsihealth.org) launches Phase 2 with an award of US$12.8 million (£8.9 million) from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This represents a major single investment by the Foundation dedicated to making better decisions for better health, and a significant commitment by the Foundation and iDSI partners worldwide to enacting the Bangkok Statement on Priority-Setting for Universal Health Coverage, launched at the Prince Mahidol Award Conference 2016.

iDSI’s mission is to guide decision makers to effective, efficient and ethical healthcare resource allocation strategies for improving people’s health. Since 2014 it has significantly strengthened local capacities for setting health priorities across Indonesia, India, Vietnam, China and South Africa.

With the funding boost in Phase 2, iDSI will scale up its practical support to countries aspiring to universal health coverage (UHC), both in terms of intensifying and sustaining the institutional impact in the five flagship countries, and broadening its geographic reach particularly into sub-Saharan Africa. iDSI also continues to receive funding support from the UK Department for International Development and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Damian Walker, Deputy Director (Data & Analytics, Global Development) , Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said:  “Countries worldwide face life-or-death choices in deciding whom receives what kinds of healthcare at what cost. iDSI will work with national and global decision-makers to help them make better choices, to save as many lives as they can afford and allow as many people as possible to lead healthy and productive lives.”

iDSI is a global network of public bodies, think-tanks, and academics in priority-setting, and comprises core partners NICE International (UK), HITAP (Health Interventions and Technology Assessment Program, Thailand), CGD (Center for Global Development, USA), and PRICELESS SA (Priority Cost Effective Lessons for System Strengthening at the University of Witwatersrand School of Public Health, South Africa), who join as the iDSI regional hub for sub-Saharan Africa. iDSI builds on its core partners’ track records over the past decade in delivering demand-driven practical support to low- and middle-income country governments, and puts into action recommendations from the 2012 CGD Priority-Setting in Health Working Group, which articulated the need for systematic, fair and evidence-informed priority-setting mechanisms in healthcare.

Prof Karen Hofman, Director of PRICELESS SA, said: “The iDSI grant will enable us to continue supporting the Ministry of Health, Treasury and other health policy makers in South Africa on setting evidence-based priorities as the country moves towards National Health Insurance. But more than this, building on successful initiatives in South East Asia we aim to go beyond our borders to share successes and lessons with policymakers in sub-Saharan Africa, as they too move towards UHC.”

“Our ambition for iDSI is that evidence-informed decision making becomes the norm in countries that we work with,” agreed Dr Yot Teerawattananon, Leader of HITAP, “and that these countries begin to contribute to the efforts in developing the capacity of other countries.”

In the era of Sustainable Development Goals and countries transitioning from aid, country policymakers will increasingly be making their own healthcare spending decisions with the goal of UHC. iDSI will provide much needed support for countries, and respond to growing demand for knowledge sharing and capacity building for priority-setting.

“iDSI has the potential to be a major contributor to improved health outcomes and health equity on the African continent,” added Prof Hofman.