Open Philanthropy’s newest focus area: Global Public Health Policy

We’re pleased to announce that we’ve added a new cause area to our Global Health and Wellbeing portfolio: Global Public Health Policy.

The program will be overseen by Santosh Harish, Chris Smith, and James Snowden. Santosh will lead the majority of grantmaking for the program.

We believe that some of the most important global health problems can be addressed cost-effectively by working with governments to improve policy. Policies like air quality regulations, tobacco and alcohol taxes, and the elimination of leaded gasoline have saved and improved millions of lives.

These policies typically improve public health by addressing risk factors to alleviate the burden of non-communicable disease, which comprises a growing share of the health burden but receives relatively few resources. Policy interventions affect entire populations and are often cost-effective for governments to implement. We think philanthropy can have an outsized impact by helping governments design, implement, and enforce more effective public health policies.

We’ve already made some grants for related work:

The chart below shows how little funding goes to address our current global public health policy focus areas relative to their estimated burden:

Sources: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation; Mew et al. 2017; Open Philanthropy estimates

These four topics are our current focus, but in the future we may explore other large health burdens addressable through public health policy such as tobacco, asbestos, and exposure to other pollutants.

We believe our grants to date have already resulted in meaningful impact, and we’re very excited for the potential of this new area. For more details, see the area page. And if you’d like to get in touch with us for any reason, please comment here or email