Russia's Emerging Global Health Leadership
April 9, 2012
After nearly a decade of dipping its toes in the waters of international development assistance (IDA), Russia appears ready in 2012 to reconfigure its institutional apparatus for global aid—perhaps as a prelude to emergence as a more serious presence and partner on the IDA landscape. Russia must address its own substantial health challenges, as well as its growing political instability—there is a good chance that, in the near term, IDA will be of secondary importance to Russian decisionmakers who are preoccupied with managing and quelling public dissatisfaction over recent electoral processes. But there are serious motivations, with the potential for significant payoff to Russia, for engaging in international assistance in the area of health. Such a program, however, should be selective and focused. The major immediate goal should be not to impress the international community or to score international diplomatic points, but instead to learn important lessons as the potential for future development programs is nurtured: how to create an effective management structure for conceptualizing, financing, and delivering aid; how to develop a cadre of qualified Russian development assistance specialists; and how to craft an image of Russia as a reliable and effective partner, donor, and source of expert knowledge for health.