We support work on policies that cost-effectively address major public health issues.

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.

Because the benefits are diffuse, and responsibility for addressing them can cut across government departments and disease categories, many problems that are addressable through public health policy are currently neglected.

This 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


Current focus areas

We launched a program focused on South Asian air quality in January 2022. In October 2023, we expanded the scope of the program to include lead exposure, alcohol policy, and suicide prevention, building on a portfolio of grants which were recommended to Open Philanthropy by GiveWell (which incubated Open Philanthropy, and still works closely with us). 

These focus areas were selected based on a comparative analysis of the burdens they impose, how much attention they received from other funders, and whether it seemed like there were tractable ways to make progress on them.

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.

This program is still in its early stages, but we’re excited about the impact of the grantees we support. Policy impacts of our grantees include contributing to deregistration of pesticides commonly used in suicide in several countries and states, establishing the impact of removing lead from spices in Bangladesh, and helping to reduce the prevalence of lead in paint in Malawi.

The following Open Philanthropy staff oversee the Global Public Health Policy program.

Prospective Funders

If you are a funder interested in donating significantly to support our grantees in global public health policy, let us know! We are eager to work in partnership with other funders and share information to help allocate resources toward exceptional work.

If interested, please email [email protected].

Prospective Grantees

We source the vast majority of our grants through active outreach and are not currently reviewing unsolicited proposals. For more information, see our grantmaking process.

Sample Grants