The 2019 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences and the Hype of RCTs

Kwame Owino
Post Date: 21 August 2020

Last year’s award of the Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences has relevance for Kenya as a low income country in many ways. The most obvious connection is that the three winners of the prize used techniques and methods that were applied in Kenya and were cited widely in the formal paper that accompanies the announcement of the award. 

As the tradition demands, the three awardees, Michael Kremer, Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee each gave a Noble Prize Lecture on December 08, 2019 in Stockholm. Listening to the lectures in addition to reading the scientific background that is prepared by the award committee constitutes high value education on the details of each year’s award. 

The citation for their award states that it is given to the trio for their “experimental approach to alleviating global poverty”. The common link between them is that application of the experiments in testing for different policy options in order to determine their effectiveness and inform decision making. They applied the Randomized Control Trials (RCT) which is a method that requires a policy measure to be tested in the same way that drug companies test for the effectiveness of a new drug. This method requires assigning a population randomly into two groups with one receiving the treatment and another receiving a placebo as a test group. Randomization allows for the observed differences to be attributed in full to the treatment or policy that was applied because the two groups are similar in every respect except for the treatment alone. 

The World Health Organisation Budget Figures for Financial Periods 2018-2019 & 2020-2021

Emmanuel Wa-Kyendo
Post Date: 05 August 2020


The World Health Organization (WHO) is an intergovernmental public health agency. Formed on 7 April 1948, the WHO is a part of the wider United Nations Sustainable Development Group . The organization’s goal is to ensure the highest state of health for all the citizens of its member states. The functions of the WHO reflect those of a typical public health institution. Disease surveillance and research efforts are an important part of its activities and it is well known for its efforts to eradicate measles and polio. The WHO is also sanctioned by its member states to declare pandemics and give names to unknown diseases. In a sense, the WHO functions like a think tank on diseases with a special concern or for those with global implications.

What follows is an analysis of the latest WHO budget. An organizations budgetary allocations are an important indication of its priorities. I posit that the same is true for the WHO. I assess the four major budget lines, the WHO’s important programmatic focus in this budget cycle, and the WHO’s sources of financing. The WHO’s programmatic focus is termed the ‘Triple Billions’. I explain what these objectives are and where they fit in the budget. 

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