What does it take to become a global leader in tackling debilitating parasitic worms in children? Speed and willingness to learn from other countries who have already done it.
This is the story of Ethiopia where in January of this year, the Federal Ministry of Health announced a national school-based deworming program that will treat over 80% of at-risk children for parasitic worms (namely, soil-transmitted helminths and schistosomiasis) by 2020. In the course of the next five years, the Ministry of Health will collaborate with teachers and health extension workers to distribute over 100 million worm treatments to at-risk children in all corners of this vast country.
For some time now, evidence-based development has been all the rage. Rigorous evidence about whether an intervention or program works, and for whom and why -- and, by caveat, whether aid money is effectively spent -- is a growing focus of attention. We have seen tremendous growth in so-called impact evaluations of social development interventions and policies to understand whether they work, and significant interest in considering rigorous evidence in making program and policy decisions. This is a welcome and important trend.
But it is easy for this conversation to miss an important element of evidence-based development: How do programs and policies that have been proven to work based on rigorous research studies, in fact, reach millions if not billions of people? What is that path to scaling what works to people who need it most?