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Comparing Free Provision of Deworming Drugs and Other Approaches

Health & Psychology Kenya

In Kenya, one-fourth of student absenteeism is attributed to abdominal pains which is likely due to intestinal helminth (worms) infections. This study evaluated the Primary School Deworming Project (PSDP), carried out by International Child Support in cooperation with the Busia District Ministry of Health. The evaluation measured the effects of cost-sharing, health education, verbal commitments, and social learning on take-up of deworming pills. Results found that the introduction of a small fee for deworming drugs led to an 80 percent reduction in treatment rates, suggesting that continued subsidies are needed. In addition, neither an intensive school health education program nor asking students in advance whether they planned to take deworming drugs had an impact on worm prevention behaviors. Lastly, students in treatment schools who had more extensive social networks, and presumably more, sometimes inaccurate information about deworming drugs, were significantly less likely to take them. This may reflect community perceptions of deworming drugs as “ineffective.” These findings show that health technologies that improve social conditions but have low value among individuals may not spread effectively without additional intervention.

Partners
  • International Child Support
  • Busia District Ministry of Health
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