Take Action: Global Health

stethoscope
  • Donors can have large impact—saving a life for less than $1,000—when giving to an international health charity.
  • Some programs (such as bed nets for malaria and vaccines) have strong track records of success; others (such as water programs and maternal mortality programs) have much murkier track records.

Learn more

Source: GiveWell

Many charity-run programs are designed to promote global health, aiming to improve access to preventive services and medical treatments. Such programs, if effective, have the potential to dramatically improve people’s lives by reducing suffering from readily preventable and treatable illnesses.

Learn more

Source: Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy

School-Based Deworming:
Parasitic worms harm children's health and development and limit their participation in school. For just pennies per treatment, deworming pills administered through school programs can improve health and increase attendance.

Learn more

Immunizations:
Low vaccination rates lead to millions of preventable deaths every year. Mobile clinics and small, non-monetary incentives encourage people to get vaccinated.

Learn more

Source: Innovations for Poverty Action

 

Charities run many programs, including:

  • Increasing access to vaccines, which can prevent deadly childhood diseases
  • Providing proven treatments for diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, or HIV/AIDS
  • Providing items such as insecticide-treated nets to prevent malaria or condoms to prevent transmission of HIV/AIDS

Learn more

Source: GiveWell

Charities offer a wide variety of activities and services, such as: educational public health campaigns, access to preventive services, and medical treatment.

Learn more

Source: Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy

School-Based Deworming:
 

  1. Collaborating with local health systems, charities provide tailored technical support, from planning through to monitoring and evaluation, to develop and expand systematic and sustainable programs (such as training teachers to administer treatment to large numbers of school-age children, developing manuals, etc.)
  2. Facilitate the distribution of donated deworming drugs to effective programs in need. They also coordinate additional strategic support to help launch and sustain school-based deworming.

Learn more

Immunizations:
 

  1. Improve access to vaccinations by introducing a well-staffed mobile vaccination camp at a fixed date and time every month.
  2. Offer small, non-monetary incentives to each mother ideally worth the opportunity cost of time for the mother, or roughly ¾ of a typical day’s wages.
  3. Hire a social worker responsible for identifying children, informing mothers about the availability of the immunization camps, and educating them about the benefits of immunization.

Learn more

Source: Innovations for Poverty Action

There are many medical interventions that are proven to improve health and save lives, including vaccinations, drug treatments, and materials such as insecticide-treated nets for protection against malaria. When evaluating health charities, donors should look for evidence that:

  • Any medical treatments involve checks on the quality of drugs/supplies and on the appropriateness of delivery/treatment.
  • Any programs focusing on "behavior change" (for example, promoting safe sexual behavior to prevent transmission of HIV/AIDS) can demonstrate that they're actually changing behavior.
  • Programs are increasing the total amount of health care provided, not just reallocating people and resources (for example, providing funding for HIV/AIDS that may merely divert doctors from their work on other equally important conditions).
  • Programs are cost-effective. Some programs can save lives for under $1,000 each; others cost considerably more.

Learn more

Source: GiveWell

While global health programs have the potential to produce meaningful improvements in people’s lives, only a few are backed by strong evidence of sizable, sustained effects on important outcomes. Many programs are backed by preliminary evidence—for example, studies showing effects on intermediate outcomes such as health knowledge or number of visits to a clinic. Donors should recognize, however, that when such programs are evaluated in more definitive studies with longer-term follow-up, these preliminary effects too often do not translate into sustained effects on more important outcomes, such as immunization rates or incidence of disease. Donors should ask about the evidence supporting the effectiveness of a specific program a charity is running—particularly whether there are rigorous studies, such as well-conducted randomized controlled trials, showing sizable, sustained effects on people’s lives.

Learn more

Source: Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy

School-Based Deworming:
With more schools than clinics, and more teachers than health workers, the existing and extensive education infrastructure provides the most efficient way to reach the highest number of school-age children. With minimal additional training, teachers can administer deworming pills and information on the importance of deworming can reach a large number of children.

Learn more

Immunizations:
Immunization rates are low even in places like India where vaccinations are available free of charge in public health facilities. The combination of a well-staffed mobile immunization camp and small, non-monetary incentives (such as 1 kg bag of lentils per immunization, plus a set of plates per completion of an entire immunization schedule) leads to more children receiving vaccines and a greater likelihood of full immunization, thus increasing the immunization rates.

Learn more

Source: Innovations for Poverty Action