Mobile health technologies have the potential to strengthen health systems by increasing transparency and accountability in those systems. In Uganda, researchers are partnering with UNICEF and the Ministry of Health to develop a mobile health (mHealth) accountability system and to evaluate its effectiveness in improving the delivery of reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health services in Uganda.

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Increasing the adoption rates of female-initiated methods of contraception may help fill an unmet demand for family planning and reduce rates of HIV infection in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Zambia, researchers are measuring how an interpersonal communication intervention impacts knowledge, acceptability, use of condoms and uptake of female condoms in the context of a mass distribution and marketing campaign for the new Maximum Diva Woman’s Condom.

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Informational campaigns and price subsidies are common ways to increase the use of health products in developing countries, but little is known about the effect of combining these tools. In Zambia, researchers investigated whether households’ demand for chlorine at varying subsidy levels was dependent on their knowledge of the product. They found that providing additional information about chlorine significantly increased the impact of price subsidies on demand for the product.

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Health remains a major barrier to economic development in poor rural areas. Access to effective health products, whether preventive or curative, has so far remained limited due in large part to poverty and the absence of financial markets that would enable poor households to invest in health on credit. Given such constraints, poor households should save in anticipation of future health shocks.

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Previous research suggests that charging even very small user fees sharply limits access to preventive health care, such as bed nets or home water purification. While distributing health products for free in low-income countries is common, it is unclear whether this is the best practice for all products.

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Intestinal worm infections are among the world’s most widespread diseases, with roughly one in four people infected worldwide. Research has shown that when children are treated with deworming medication, worm infections become less prevalent not only for children who received the medication, but for those who live in the same environment as treated children.

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In Sub-Saharan Africa, about 1.8 million people became infected with the HIV virus in 2011, with the majority of new cases attributed to unprotected sex. This study tested whether providing sexual health information through SMS messaging could lower rates of risky behavior.

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Researchers distributed vouchers for antimalarial drugs and malaria rapid diagnostic tests, redeemable at four local drug shops in Western Kenya. Taking some subsidy money away from anti-malarial drugs and putting it towards subsidizing and promoting rapid diagnostic testing could improve targeting.

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A young boy and girl gather rice in Sierra Leone

The economic impacts of the Ebola virus required monitoring in real time for policymakers to estimate the short- and long-term costs of the epidemic and respond appropriately, yet information on the magnitude of the effects was scarce. The aim of this monthly survey in Sierra Leone was to measure the economic and social impacts of the outbreak on households and provide timely updates on the survey's findings to policymakers.

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Regular handwashing with soap is one of the best ways to prevent diarrheal and respiratory disease, which are two of the primary causes of death among children worldwide. In many places in the developing world, however, soap is a luxury and water must be carried long distances, and handwashing with soap is not always practiced at critical times.

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Addressing high rates of gender-based violence experienced by girls is a policy goal in many developing countries, in particular in post-conflict settings such as Liberia where evidence suggests women commonly experience physical and/or sexual violence. This study in Nimba County, Liberia will evaluate the impact of a girls’ empowerment program for young adolescent girls and their caregivers on sexual violence and reproductive health outcomes.

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Poor sanitation is estimated to cause 280,000 deaths per year worldwide, despite the existence of simple, effective solutions. Governments and major development institutions have dedicated substantial resources and attention to improving sanitation in developing countries, but there has been little rigorous research on how best to increase sanitation coverage.

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Encasing water sources in concrete is an effective way of improving water quality and reducing the burden of diarrhea.

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Starting the summer of 2014, many risk factors pointed to a potential food crisis in areas of West Africa hit hardest by the Ebola outbreak. Innovations for Poverty Action, in partnership with researchers and the International Growth Center, began monitoring markets across Sierra Leone for changes in food prices and supply. Researchers provided rapid feedback to the government and other development partners on where food shortages were occurring. 

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Adequate housing is thought to provide a number of benefits, including greater satisfaction with one’s quality of life, better mental and physical health, protection against extreme weather, and improved safety and defense against crime. Researchers measured the impact of improving the quality of slum housing on household wellbeing in El Salvador, Mexico, and Uruguay, with IPA implementing the evaluation in Mexico. Residents were selected to receive housing upgrades by lottery.

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