HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Frank and Denie Weil Director of the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government
Charles W. Eliot University Professor


The Commission on Investing in Health (CIH), an international group of 25 economists and global health experts, published its Global Health 2035 report in The Lancet in December 2013. The report laid out an ambitious investment framework for achieving a “grand convergence” in health—a universal reduction in deaths from infectious diseases and maternal and child health conditions—within a generation. This article captures ten key elements that the CIH found important to its process and successful outcomes. The elements are presented in chronological order, from inception to post-publication activities. The starting point is to identify the gap that a new commission could help to narrow. A critical early step is to choose a chair who can help to set the agenda, motivate the commissioners, frame the commission’s analytic work, and run the commission meetings in an effective way. In selecting commissioners, important considerations are their technical expertise, ensuring diversity of people and viewpoints, and the connections that commissioners have with the intended policy audience. Financial and human resources need to be secured, typically from universities, foundations, and development agencies. It is important to set a clear end date, so that the commission’s work program, the timing of its meetings and its interim deadlines can be established. In-person meetings are usually a more effective mechanism than conference calls for gaining commissioners’ inputs, surfacing important debates, and ‘reality testing’ the commission’s key findings and messages. To have policy impact, the commission report should ideally say something new and unexpected and should have simple messages. Generating new empirical data and including forward-looking recommendations can also help galvanize policy action. Finally, the lifespan of a commission can be extended if it lays the foundation for a research agenda that is then taken up after the commission report is published.


Yamey, Gavin, Lawrence H. Summers, Dean T. Jamison, and Jessica Brinton. "How to Convene an International Health or Development Commission: Ten Key Steps." Health Policy and Planning 33.3 (April 2018): 429–435.