Good Governance, Sound Policy

Good Governance, Sound Policy

Having grown up both in England and Wisconsin, Scott Greer learned early on to make cross-cultural comparisons. “I wondered why certain things were done in one way in one country and differently in another,” he remembers. Today, he says, countries like the U.S. can learn a lot from places like Europe—and vice versa. An expert in the politics of health policies, Greer is an associate professor of health management and policy at U-M SPH and Senior Expert Advisor on Health Governance for the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies.

He’s also the senior author of a new book commissioned by the World Health Organization, Strengthening Health System Governance: Better Policies, Stronger Performance, which Greer describes as a “truly useful toolkit” that both governments and health leaders can use to draft and implement effective new policies. All too often, good policies fail for any number of reasons, Greer says—because they’re underfunded, or they’re struck down in court, or they fall prey to corruption, or they get lost in a dysfunctional government.

“The world is full of great leaders who are undercut by the system they’re working in—and of people who aren’t good leaders, but who do a good job because of the system they’re working in,” Greer explains. “We want the latter—and if you get a great leader and a great system, then bravo!”

Distilled from a vast body of literature, Strengthening Health System Governance offers a five-part framework policymakers and government officials can use to evaluate policies: transparency, accountability, participation, integrity, and capacity, or TAPIC. The book includes case studies from across Europe and covers a range of specific health policy topics, among them pharmaceutical procurement, hospital management, primary-care reform, intergovernmental relations and communicable-disease control, and response to austerity.

Already in use in Estonia, Finland, and Belfast, the book will be available for free download later this year at WHO officials are also using it to evaluate the European Union.