This Comment published in the Lancet responds to questions that editor Richard Horton made in his "Offline" commentary, (March 12, 2016, p 1041), which summarised comments from a forum on the role of nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) in global health. Horton's "Offline" echoed a prevalent systematic bias in the treatment of NGOs.
The authors, including JSI's Craig Burgess, point out that NGOs are diverse and dynamic entities that are responsive to social, cultural, and political trends, with varying missions, foci, technical acumen, religious affiliation, experience, and quality assurance standards. The one-size-fits-all label of NGO is outdated. To tackle serious problems, the authors write, we need to evolve our language, and be both more specific and more systemic. Horton questioned the appropriateness of “uncritical acceptance of NGO participation” in global health on the basis of broadly assigned dysfunctions and with a passing acknowledgment that these dysfunctions also apply to other actors.
Authors: Eric Gilles Sarriot, Karen LeBan, Emma Sacks, Christine Sow, Craig Burgess