The Cases

The book profiles 18 remarkable cases in which large-scale efforts to improve health in low- and middle-income countries succeeded, and 4 examples of promising interventions that fell short of their health targets when scaled-up in real world conditions.

Get the book and read about 22 cases describing what works in global health.

Each case demonstrates how much effort—and sometimes luck—is required to fight illness and sustain good health. Sometimes technology can be the game changer; far more often, however, success emerges from wise strategic choices, quality analysis, and sound leadership. Together, the cases offer lessons about what it takes—and what it will take in the future—to bring good health to all.


Remarkable Cases

The book features 22 programs that aimed to improve health at large scale in low- and middle-countries.


Special Cases on the Website

Of the 22 cases in the book, we chose 10 programs that had the biggest impact on health to showcase on the website with videos, images, and data visualizations. Similar to the book, these cases define the health problem, outline the policy or program, describe the health impact, consider the costs of achieving impact, summarize the keys to lasting success, and analyze the program’s implications for global health more broadly.

Four Main Categories

The cases are grouped into four main categories, reflecting the diversity of strategies to improve population health in low-and middle-income countries: (1) rolling out medicines and technologies; (2) expanding access to health services; (3) targeting cash transfers to improve health; and (4) promoting population-wide behavior change to decrease risk.

Around the Globe

The cases show that health success is possible anywhere given the right circumstances. They come from most world regions: seven from sub-Saharan Africa, six from Latin America and the Caribbean, five from East and Southeast Asia, and four from South Asia. They also come from an economically diverse range of countries, including the poorest countries and regions in the world.

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Selection Criteria

Cases were selected following a comprehensive literature review, expert consultations, public calls for proposals, and consultations with the Disease Control Priorities in Developing Country (DCP3) editors, an expert advisory group, and other reviewers. Criteria included:


The intervention addressed a problem of public health significance. Mortality, morbidity, or another standardized measure such as disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) were used to indicate importance.


Interventions or programs demonstrated a significant and attributable impact on one or more population health outcomes based on currently available evidence.


Priority was given to programs that are pro-poor and include specific measures to reduce the barrier that prevent those disadvantaged by gender inequality, geography, ethnicity, from accessing health benefits.


Interventions were implemented on a significant scale – mostly national; regional was also considered. Programs were characterized as national if they had strong national-level commitment even if targeting a limited area or sub-group.


Case information was of interest and programmatically relevant in other settings.

Economic Evaluation

Preference was given to programs that could show cost-effectiveness in implementation, as determined by a country-based threshold.

Financial Protection

Interventions that aimed to reduce the financial hardship and impoverishment associated with health problems were given priority.


Interventions functioned at scale for at least five years.