Population Center Receives New $180 Million Grant

UNC’s Carolina Population Center has received a five-year, $180 million award for its MEASURE Evaluation project, evaluating health, poverty and gender programs worldwide.

The award, from the U.S. Agency for International Development, is the second-largest ever received by the University and supports the fourth phase of an effort begun in 1997.

In 2008, the population center also attracted the University’s largest award ever, for the third phase of the massive project that supports public health efforts throughout the world, particularly addressing HIV and AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

With possible associate awards from USAID missions and bureaus in other countries, the total award could grow to more than $300 million.

MEASURE Evaluation evaluates public health programs around the world to ensure government funds are being used effectively. It is considered USAID’s flagship project for monitoring and evaluating spending on international global health, UNC officials said. The project is implemented by a team of organizations led by UNC and working with Futures Group, ICF International, John Snow Inc., Management Sciences for Health and Tulane University.

“MEASURE Evaluation has played a key role in an incredibly successful international effort to bend the epidemic curve. The global community has taken what was an upward trajectory for AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis and turned it into a downward one,” said the project’s director, Jim C. Thomas, who also is an associate professor of epidemiology in UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health.

“As we continue to address global health issues, we are honored to be entrusted by USAID to carry on the work of MEASURE Evaluation, and we look forward to a strong partnership with USAID for years to come,” Thomas said.

Including this $180 million award, MEASURE Evaluation has received nearly $600 million in federal funding over the past 17 years. “This funding is a direct result of the talented and hard-working team of researchers, faculty and students behind the project,” Chancellor Carol L. Folt said. “We couldn’t be more proud of the great work being led by the Carolina Population Center and their partners.”

To date, MEASURE Evaluation has focused on building the foundations and capacity to enable monitoring and evaluation in developing countries. The objective of Phase IV is to work toward sustainability of that work, strengthening host-country systems that generate high-quality health information used for decision-making at local, national and global levels. Progress toward this objective will contribute to improved health programs and policies, which ultimately impact overall health outcomes. The project will achieve this objective by concentrating on achieving four results:

  • Strengthened collection, analysis and use of routine health data;
  • Improved country-level capacity to manage health information systems, resources and staff;
  • Methods, tools and approaches improved and applied to address health information challenges and gaps; and
  • Increased capacity for rigorous evaluation.

“We will respond to the complexity of this task by applying more systems thinking,” Thomas said. “There are many moving parts affecting each other, and systems thinking provides ways to achieve progress in the midst of complexity.”

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