By Mike McQuestion

The three Asian SIF pilot countries could not be more distinct. In Cambodia, a rice growing culture has flourished for 2000 years in the Mekong River delta. Public health programs are just now starting to cut maternal and child mortality. Nepal is a polyglot of mountain and plain dwellers unexposed to the modern world until the late 1940s. Its health programs are also rapidly driving down mortality. Both countries are on track to make their MDG4 targets. Sri Lanka, in contrast, is a prosperous island with a diverse economy, high educational levels and a sophisticated public sector. Mortality has been low for decades. These contrasts aside, the three countries are pulling together to reach the sustainable financing goal. This was the theme of last week's Third Sabin Asian Subregional Symposium on SIF.