J-PAL’s Health Program seeks to promote the important contributions that randomized evaluations can make in understanding how improvements in health services and delivery can reduce poverty. Each year, significant resources are allocated to global health and development initiatives. However, despite substantial investment, improvements in global health indicators have been uneven. For example, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) latest data, encouraging declines in child mortality rates have occurred globally, while improvements in maternal mortality, TB, and HIV/AIDS have been slower (World Health Statistics Report 2010). Moreover, the WHO reports worsening of certain key indicators such as prevalence of undernutrition in a number of countries.
This uneven progress highlights the importance of directing limited resources to the most effective strategies and programs. Randomized evaluations conducted by J-PAL’s affiliates measure the impact and cost-effectiveness of different approaches to improving health outcomes. The Health Program works in conjunction with J-PAL’s Policy Group to disseminate these findings to governments, stakeholders, and development organizations, and conducts comparative cost-effectiveness analyses to help identify which health interventions have the largest impact per dollar spent.
Concurrently, the Health Program is conducting a broad regional assessment of health and development to identify knowledge gaps and priority areas for impact evaluation. This comprehensive review will ultimately inform the Health Program’s long-term research agenda.