HEADLINES OF THE DAY: ANOTHER 15,000 PEOPLE DIED YESTERDAY BECAUSE THEY WERE TOO POOR TO LIVE. THE RICH INCREASED THEIR WEALTH YESTERDAY BY $0.3 BILLION. THE 21st CENTURY VERSION OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION IS ONE DAY NEARER.
“O Ye rich ones on earth! The poor in your midst are My trust; guard ye My trust, and be not intent only on your own ease.”
A preview of the unpublished book A CIVILIZATION WITHOUT A VISION WILL PERISH: AN INDEPENDENT SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH by David Willis at firstname.lastname@example.org. CHAPTER 1: INDIFFERENCE TO POVERTY (Part 92). This blog is a continuation of the review of ENDING GLOBAL POVERTY: A GUIDE TO WHAT WORKS by Stephen C. Smith, published in 2005.
HEALTH MAKES EDUCATION POSSIBLE: DEWORMING IN KENYA (ICS IN BUSIA)
An estimated cost of 49 cents per child per year
Worldwide, hookworm and roundworm each infect about 1.3 billion people, whipworm infects about 900 million, and schistosomiasis infects about 200 million. These parasitic infections can be debilitating. Severe infections lead to abdominal pain, anemia, protein malnutrition or Kwasiorkor, listlessness, and other complications. In Africa, millions of children live in communities where parasitic infections are nearly universal. If all children in heavily infected areas were given safe deworming treatment now available, we could control these infections for an estimated 49 cents per child per year.
Deworming is one of the most high-impact and cost effective strategies
In rural Kenya parasitic infections are endemic, including hookworm, roundworm, whipworm, and schistosomiasis. But with so little money available – annual government expenditure on public health in Kenya was only about $5 per person in the 1990 to 1997 period – and so many pressing problems, officials in aid agencies and in the Kenyan government doubted whether these treatments should be a priority. Now an action research project has shown clearly that deworming is one of the most high-impact and cost effective strategies for keeping children in school while improving their general nutrition and health.
The program is run by the International Christian Support Fund (ICS), an NGO based in the Netherlands.
ICS implemented its deworming program with cooperation from the Kenyan Ministry of Health, and is working with a Harvard-MIT research team led by Michael Kremer, assessing their poverty programs using the highest standards of rigor: randomized impact evaluations.
In Busia district, 92% of schoolchildren were infected with at least one parasite, and 28% had at least three infections. The most heavily infected children were more likely to be absent from school on the day of the survey.
The deworming program was one of the most rigorously evaluated poverty programs in the world, using randomized trial methods.
The results showed it to be more cost effective than virtually any known program in increasing the level of primary school attendance among very poor children.
The program cost per additional year of schooling was just $3.50, much less than the alternative methods used to increase school participation, such as subsidies to attend school.
The result was a well-designed program, rigorously evaluated, with an unusually favorable cost-benefit ratio.
Nangina Primary School had a sign painted onto a wall that reads: “OUR MOTTO: HARDWORK AND DISCIPLINE LEAD TO SUCCESS.”
ICS has had many benefits from participating in rigorous randomized trials that extend even beyond the knowledge it gains on program effectiveness. They have received many valuable ideas from the researchers, and have acquired an international reputation for innovation and careful program assessment. It is to be hoped that many other NGOs will follow their example.