Evidence for stronger health systems and programs

In recent years, great progress has been made in global health. Rates of chronic hunger and child mortality are half what they were two decades ago. At the same time, progress has been slow in other areas, such as on maternal mortality, access to improved sanitation, and the incidence of malaria, as recent data from the World Health Organization shows. To determine how best to address these challenges and many others, Innovations for Poverty Action partners with health ministries, civil society organizations, and NGOs working in the sector to discover and encourage the use of effective approaches for improving health systems and programs.


With more than 150 health-related studies, IPA’s work has shed light on a variety of questions, from whether to charge for malaria bednets to how male involvement influences female contraception use. Our research has identified cost-effective methods to reduce the incidence of diarrhea in children under 5 years of age (including providing free chlorine dispensers at water sources), unveiled the role of subsidies and community engagement in spurring demand for improved sanitation, and explored the sensitivity of demand to small changes in the price of health products in general (“The Price is Wrong”). Yet many questions remain unanswered, such as whether private health clinics can address multiple challenges at once, including low-quality, limited availability, and lack of use of existing health services. Current evaluations are seeking to answer this question and many others.

Learn about evaluations of U.S. programs through J-PAL’s U.S. Health Care Delivery Initiative and their related literature review.

Read about J-PAL’s Urban Services Initiative and the existing body of evidence on how to improve water, sanitation, and hygiene in urban settings.

Key Findings