Many patients in low-income countries express preferences for high-quality health care but often end up with low-quality providers. We conducted a randomized controlled trial with pregnant women in Nairobi, Kenya, to analyze whether cash transfers, enhanced with behavioral “nudges,” can help women deliver in facilities that are consistent with their preferences and are of higher quality. We tested two interventions. The first was a labeled cash transfer (LCT), which explained that the cash was to help women deliver where they wanted. The second was a cash transfer that combined labeling and a commitment by the recipient to deliver in a prespecified desired facility as a condition of receiving the final payment (L-CCT). The L-CCT improved patient-perceived quality of interpersonal care but not perceived technical quality of care. It also increased women’s likelihood of delivering in facilities that met standards for routine and emergency newborn care but not the likelihood of delivering in facilities that met standards for obstetric care. The LCT had fewer measured benefits. Women preferred facilities with high technical and interpersonal care quality, but these quality measures were often negatively correlated within facilities. Even with cash transfers, many women still used poor-quality facilities. A larger study is warranted to determine whether the L-CCT can improve maternal and newborn outcomes.
Background: Despite the continued high prevalence of faltering growth, height monitoring remains limited in many low- and middle-income countries.
Objective: The objective of this study was to test whether providing parents with information on their child’s height can improve children’s height and developmental outcomes.
Design: Villages in Chipata District, Zambia (n = 127), were randomly assigned with equal probability to 1 of 3 groups: home- based growth monitoring (HBGM), community-based growth monitoring including nutritional supplementation for children with stunted growth (CBGM+NS), and control. Primary study outcomes were individual height-for-age z score (HAZ) and overall child development assessed with the International Fetal and Newborn Growth Consortium for the 21st Century Neurodevelopment Assessment tool. Secondary outcomes were weight-for-age z score (WAZ), protein consumption, breastfeeding, and general dietary diversity.
Results: We enrolled a total of 547 children with a median age of 13 mo at baseline. Estimated mean difference (b) in HAZ was 0.127 (95% CI: 20.107, 0.361) for HBGM and 20.152 (95% CI: 20.341, 0.036) for CBGM+NS. HBGM had no impact on child development [b: 20.017 (95% CI: 20.133, 0.098)]; CBGM+NS reduced overall child development scores by 20.118 SD (95% CI: 20.230, 20.006 SD). Both interventions had larger positive ef- fects among children with stunted growth at baseline, with esti- mated interaction effects of 0.503 (95% CI: 0.160, 0.846) and 0.582 (95% CI: 0.134, 1.030) for CBGM+NS and HBGM, respec- tively. HBGM increased mean WAZ [b = 0.183 (95% CI: 0.037, 0.328)]. Both interventions improved parental reports of children’s protein intake.
Conclusions: The results from this trial suggest that growth monitoring has a limited effect on children’s height and development, despite improvements in self-reported feeding practices. HBGM had modest positive effects on children with stunted growth. Given its relatively low cost, this intervention may be a cost-effective tool for increasing parental efforts toward reducing children’s physical growth deficits.
IPA Zambia is pleased to share its second quarter bulletin of 2017. This bulletin features updates on our research projects on improving public services by improving staff allocation; trust, spontaneous clusters, and the growth of urban small- and medium-sized enterprises; and interpersonal communication to encourage use of the Maximum Diva Woman's Condom. This bulletin also highlights IPA Zambia's presentation of preliminary results from the Girls Negotiation study in early May.
Background: Rigorous evaluations of health sector interventions addressing intimate partner violence (IPV) in low- and middle-income countries are lacking. We aimed to assess whether an enhanced nurse-delivered intervention would reduce IPV and improve levels of safety planning behaviors, use of community resources, reproductive coercion, and mental quality of life.
Methods: We randomized 42 public health clinics in Mexico City to treatment or control arms. In treatment clinics, women received the nurse-delivered session (IPV screening, supportive referrals, health/safety risk assessments) at baseline (T1), and a booster counselling session after 3 months (T2). In control clinics, women received screening and a referral card from nurses. Surveys were conducted at T1, T2, and T3 (15 months from baseline). Our main outcome was past-year physical and sexual IPV. Intent-to-treat analyses were conducted via three-level random intercepts models to evaluate the interaction term for treatment status by time.
Results: Between April and October 2013, 950 women (480 in control clinics, 470 in treatment clinics) with recent IPV experiences enrolled in the study. While reductions in IPV were observed for both women enrolled in treatment (OR, 0.40; 95% CI, 0.28–0.55; P < 0.01) and control (OR, 0.51; 95% CI, 0.36–0.72; P < 0.01) clinics at T3 (July to December 2014), no significant treatment effects were observed (OR, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.49–1.24; P = 0.30). At T2 (July to December 2013), women in treatment clinics reported significant improvements, compared to women in control clinics, in mental quality of life (β, 1.45; 95% CI, 0.14–2.75; P = 0.03) and safety planning behaviors (β, 0.41; 95% CI, 0.02–0.79; P = 0.04).
Conclusion: While reductions in IPV levels were seen among women in both treatment and control clinics, the enhanced nurse intervention was no more effective in reducing IPV. The enhanced nursing intervention may offer short-term improvements in addressing safety planning and mental quality of life. Nurses can play a supportive role in assisting women with IPV experiences.
In Liberia, we have continued our global tradition of rigorous, applicable research by building foundational research capacity and conducting evaluations in areas of pressing national concern. Examples of our work described in this brief offer promising insights into everyday issues that affect the lives of the Liberian poor.
Research on intrahousehold decision making often finds that fathers have more decision-making power than mothers, but mothers put more weight on children’s well-being. One policy response has been to try to shift decision-making power toward mothers, for example by making mothers the recipient of transfers aimed at improving children’s welfare (Lundberg, Pollak, and Wales 1997). However, changing decision making in the family is not always feasible or advisable. In such cases, the divergent preferences and decision making of parents suggest a trade-off when targeting policies to improve children’s well-being. On the one hand, fathers have more power to change household behavior in ways that help children. On the other hand, mothers might have a stronger desire to do so. This trade-off might be especially stark in developing countries where women have especially low bargaining power (Jayachandran 2015).
We study this trade-off in the context of classes that teach parents low-cost ways to improve child health. Our setting is Uganda. Many simple, inexpensive behaviors that promote child health such as boiling drinking water, exclusively breastfeeding newborns, spacing births, and using antimalarial bed nets have low take-up, and increasing their adoption could reduce child malnutrition and mortality (Bhutta et al. 2013). We compare village-level parenting classes for mothers, which were held over the course of a year and encouraged these health-promoting behaviors, to similar classes for fathers. For the reasons discussed above, it is ambiguous whether targeting the classes to mothers or fathers will be more effective. In addition to contributing to the literature on intrahousehold decision making, this paper is one of the first to rigorously study whether mothers’ and fathers’ knowledge have different
impacts on child health.
Background: Community health clubs are multi-session village-level gatherings led by trained facilitators and designed to promote healthy behaviours mainly related to water, sanitation, and hygiene. They have been implemented in several African and Asian countries but have never been evaluated rigorously. We aimed to evaluate the effect of two versions of the community health club model on child health and nutrition outcomes.
Methods: We did a cluster-randomised trial in Rusizi district, western Rwanda. We defined villages as clusters. We assessed villages for eligibility then randomly selected 150 for the study using a simple random sampling routine in Stata. We stratified villages by wealth index and by the proportion of children younger than 2 years with caregiverreported diarrhoea within the past 7 days. We randomly allocated these villages to three study groups: no intervention (control; n=50), eight community health club sessions (Lite intervention; n=50), or 20 community health club sessions (Classic intervention; n=50). Households in these villages were enrolled in 2013 for a baseline survey, then re-enrolled in 2015 for an endline survey. The primary outcome was caregiver-reported diarrhoea within the previous 7 days in children younger than 5 years. Analysis was by intention to treat and per protocol. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01836731.
Findings: At the baseline survey undertaken between May, 2013, and August, 2013, 8734 households with children younger than 5 years of age were enrolled. At the endline survey undertaken between Sept 21, 2015, and Dec 22, 2015, 7934 (91%) of the households were re-enrolled. Among children younger than 5 years, the prevalence of caregiver-reported diarrhoea in the previous 7 days was 514 (14%) of 3616 assigned the control, 453 (14%) of 3196 allocated the Lite intervention (prevalence ratio compared with control 0·97, 95% CI 0·81–1·16; p=0·74), and 495 (14%) of 3464 assigned the Classic intervention (prevalence ratio compared with control 0·99, 0·85–1·15; p=0·87).
Interpretation: Community health clubs, in this setting in western Rwanda, had no effect on caregiver-reported diarrhoea among children younger than 5 years. Our results question the value of implementing this intervention at scale for the aim of achieving health gains.
In Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, and Mali, we have continued our global tradition of rigorous, applicable research by building foundational research capacity and conducting evaluations in areas of pressing national concern. Examples of our work below offer promising insights into everyday issues that affect the lives of the Francophone West African poor.
IPA Zambia is pleased to share its first quarter bulletin of 2017. This bulletin highlights our research projects on the impact of teaching girls negotiation skills and the challenges of water provision, including policy dissemination events co-hosted with the International Growth Centre on results from these two studies. This bulletin also features our project on maternal mortality risk and the gender gap in desired fertility.
Distributing subsidized health products through existing health infrastructure could substantially and cost-effectively improve health in sub-Saharan Africa. There is, however, widespread concern that poor governance – in particular, limited health worker accountability – seriously undermines the effectiveness of subsidy programs. We audit targeted bednet distribution programs to quantify the extent of agency problems. We find that around 80% of the eligible receive the subsidy as intended, and up to 15% of subsidies are leaked to ineligible people. Supplementing the program with simple financial or monitoring incentives for health workers does not improve performance further and is thus not cost-effective in this context.
Objectives. To evaluate whether text-messaging programs can improve reproductive health among adolescent girls in low- and middle-income countries.
Methods. We conducted a cluster–randomized controlled trial among 756 female students aged 14 to 24 years in Accra, Ghana, in 2014. We randomized 38 schools to unidirectional intervention (n = 12), interactive intervention (n = 12), and control (n = 14). The unidirectional intervention sent participants text messages with reproductive health information. The interactive intervention engaged adolescents in text-messaging reproductive health quizzes. The primary study outcome was reproductive health knowledge at 3 and 15 months. Additional outcomes included self-reported pregnancy and sexual behavior. Analysis was by intent-to-treat.
Results. From baseline to 3 months, the unidirectional intervention increased knowledge by 11 percentage points (95% confidence interval [CI] = 7, 15) and the interactive intervention by 24 percentage points (95% CI = 19, 28), from a control baseline of 26%. Although we found no changes in reproductive health outcomes overall, both unidirectional (odds ratio [OR] = 0.14; 95% CI = 0.03, 0.71) and interactive interventions (OR = 0.15; 95% CI = 0.03, 0.86) lowered odds of self-reported pregnancy for sexually active participants.
IPA Zambia is pleased to share with you its final bulletin of the year: "2016 in Review." This bulletin highlights ten of IPA Zambia's research projects, including updates from projects included in the previous bulletin as well as new contributions. We hope you enjoy this look at the high-quality evidence we've generated this past year, and we look forward to continuing this work with you in the year ahead.
Public expenditures on non-contributory pensions are equivalent to at least 1 percent of GDP in several countries in Latin America and is expected to increase. We explore the effect of non- contributory pensions on the well-being of the beneficiary population by studying the Pension 65 program in Peru, which uses a poverty eligibility threshold. We find that the program reduced the average score of beneficiaries on the Geriatric Depression Scale by nine percent and reduced the proportion of older adults doing paid work by four percentage points. Moreover, households with a beneficiary increased their level of consumption by 40 percent. All these effects are consistent with the findings of Galiani, Gertler and Bando (2016) in their study on a non-contributory pension scheme in Mexico. Thus, we conclude that the effects of non-contributory pensions on well-being in rural Mexico can be largely generalized to Peru.
Despite poverty and limited access to health care, evidence is growing that patients in low-income countries are taking a more active role in their selection of health care providers. Urban areas such as Nairobi, Kenya offer a rich context for studying these “active” patients because of the large number of heterogeneous providers available. We use a unique panel dataset from 2015 in which 402 pregnant women from peri-urban (the “slums” of) Nai- robi, Kenya were interviewed three times over the course of their pregnancy and delivery, allowing us to follow women's care decisions and their perceptions of the quality of care they received. We define active antenatal care (ANC) patients as those women who switch ANC providers and explore the prevalence, characteristics and care- seeking behavior of these patients. We analyze whether active ANC patients appear to be seeking out higher qual- ity facilities and whether they are more satisfied with their care. Women in our sample visit over 150 different public and private ANC facilities. Active patients are more educated and more likely to have high risk pregnancies, but have otherwise similar characteristics to non-active patients. We find that active patients are increasingly likely to pay for private care (despite public care being free) and to receive a higher quality of care over the course of their pregnancy. We find that active patients appear more satisfied with their care over the course of pregnan- cy, as they are increasingly likely to choose to deliver at the facility providing their ANC.
Background: The recent global climate agreement in Paris aims to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions while fostering sustainable development, and establishes an international trading mechanism to meet this goal. Currently, carbon offset program implementers are allowed to collect their own monitoring data to determine the number of carbon credits to be awarded.
Objectives: We summarize reasons for mandating independent monitoring of greenhouse gas emission reduction projects. In support of our policy recommendations, we describe a case study of a program designed to earn carbon credits by distributing almost one million drinking water filters in rural Kenya to avert the use of fuel for boiling water. We compare results from an assessment conducted by our research team in the program area among households with pregnant women or caregivers in rural villages with low piped water access with the reported program monitoring data and discuss the implications.
Discussion: Our assessment in Kenya found lower household water filter usage levels than the internal program monitoring reported estimates used to determine carbon credits; we found 19% (N=4041) of households reported filter usage 2-3 years after filter distribution compared to the program stated usage rate of 81% (N=14988) 2.7 years after filter distribution. Although carbon financing could be a financially sustainable approach to scale up water treatment and improve health in low-income settings, these results suggest program effectiveness will remain uncertain in the absence of requiring monitoring data be collected by third-party organizations.
Conclusion: Independent monitoring should be a key requirement for carbon credit verification in future international carbon trading mechanisms to ensure programs achieve benefits in line with sustainable development goals.