Health workers can be wildly successful at saving lives when they have a profit motive

Friday, December 30, 2016

The preventable death of children in poor countries remains one of the world’s greatest scourges. Close to 3 million children under the age of five die each year, mainly in the developing world, from diseases that are easily treated.

A tried and true method of minimizing these deaths is through community health worker programs. The health workers, usually women, provide households in rural villages with public health services and basic health products like malaria bed nets and diarrhea medicine.

Though community health worker programs are highly effective under strong supervision, these programs sometimes fail because the health workers, often volunteers, are not able devote the necessary time to the program.

When the NGOs BRAC Uganda and Living Goods joined together to start a community health worker project in rural Uganda, the organizations focused on developing a program that would keep staff engaged. They turned to that most simple and powerful of incentives: profit. It seems to have worked spectacularly. The profit-driven program proved so cost-effective in saving lives that it is now being rapidly scaled.

Source: Quartz (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
infectious diseases, public health