This March, our Deworm the World Initiative helped the Kenyan government restart their school-based deworming program, which had been interrupted by COVID-19. It was an extraordinary feat that compressed 2 months of planning and coordination into 3 weeks.
An open, innovative approach to the challenge of connecting policymakers to the evidence they need for decision making: the case of deworming in low- and middle-income countries.
In November of last year we announced our new Maternal Syphilis program in Liberia. We have since made significant steps towards program launch, signing a five year Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Health of Liberia and hiring Emilie Efronson, an experienced public health practitioner, as country manager. We talked with Emilie about her new role and what she expects to achieve.
Chrispin Owaga spent nearly half of his childhood in Nyalenda, one of the biggest slums of Kisumu, the third largest city in Kenya. As our senior manager of Deworming in Kenya, he’s now fulfilling his lifelong aspiration to address the challenges he faced as a child.
Approximately one million pregnant women around the world are infected with active syphilis, a disease that can cause severe problems for both mother and child. We are working with the government of Liberia to nationally scale-up dual HIV/syphilis rapid testing —which will leverage the country’s existing HIV infrastructure—to detect and treat the disease before it causes complications to the child.
Earlier this month, Evidence Action helped organize a symposium presenting the key drivers of India’s National Deworming Day success, and lessons learned, to inform other deworming programs, and the future direction of the program, with a technical focus on the government’s approach to prevalence surveying.
Safe Water and Hand Hygiene in Rural Kenya, Uganda, and Malawi: Our COVID-19 Response Through the Lens of Global Handwashing Day
When Global Handwashing Day was introduced 12 years ago, hand hygiene wasn’t a feature in everyday conversation. COVID-19 has changed this. Now, messages on the importance of handwashing are mainstream, and yet, for those living in extreme poverty, significant barriers to handwashing remain. In line with our commitment to ‘thinking big and acting urgently’, we pivoted to address these barriers in the communities we serve.
India closed its schools early in 2020 to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This decision, though necessary, meant that the country’s National Deworming Day was no longer viable. However, in recognition of the importance of continued deworming, we assisted the Government of India to rapidly adjust delivery to a community-based model, where the medication is delivered straight to children’s homes.
To support our goal of doubling our impact by 2024, we have now created a Programs department to tie together our flagship programs and our monitoring and evaluation capabilities. We are pleased to announce that Brett Sedgewick will assume the new role of Senior Director, Programs.
When the Government of Kenya closed schools and implemented social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19, one of our flagship programs – the Deworm the World Initiative – had to rapidly adapt to the new conditions on the ground.
A landmark study offers new evidence of the long-term benefits of school-based deworming. As an organization that supports deworming for hundreds of millions of children each year, this study further proves the efficacy of our work.
The Indian state of Rajasthan asked for our assistance in identifying elderly members of the community who were immunocompromised, had preexisting conditions, or presented any other factors that increased their risk of contracting COVID-19.
In response to COVID-19, we’re now ‘thinking big’ and ‘acting urgently’ to do more. Since early April, we’ve delivered 1,600 tons of soap for handwashing, 360,000 liters of chlorine for disinfecting, and hygiene education to help over 4 million people protect themselves against COVID-19. More deliveries will take place over the next few weeks.
In India, Evidence Action supports national and state governments to deliver high-impact, cost-effective health interventions at scale. Due to India’s lockdown measures, which include large-scale school closures, school-based programs are unlikely to resume in the near-term. We are therefore working to determine how best to support the rapid recovery of these programs once schools reopen, while simultaneously leveraging the capacity of our team in India to assist our government partners in managing COVID-related challenges.
A Methodological Assessment: Understanding the Prevalence and Intensity of Soil-Transmitted Helminths in India
Evidence Action has supported the Government of India’s National Deworming Day program since 2015. Our technical support includes the periodic assessment of worm burden, to help determine treatment strategy. We recently conducted an assessment to inform the best and most cost-effective approach for these surveys, which is the topic of this blog.
In 2014, we partnered with Thrive Networks, with funding from Dubai Cares, to support the Government of Vietnam’s school-based deworming program. We tailored our approach to the government’s needs: support to improve the delivery, reach, and monitoring of their program in ways that would enhance already significant coverage and cost-effectiveness, while bolstering confidence in its impact. Vietnam is now successfully conducting deworming without us.
With each passing day, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to bend health systems to their breaking points, and organizations like ours are keenly focused on the looming threat that this pandemic presents to low- and middle-income countries. At Evidence Action we are seeking to leverage our existing resources and relationships to support these governments and communities in their response to COVID-19.
At Evidence Action we are actively managing the unprecedented set of risks and challenges posed by COVID-19 to the communities and people we serve. In such circumstances, provision of basic services becomes even more essential, to avert easily preventable disease and avoid further burdening fragile health systems.
When we launched Dispensers for Safe Water, we had a bold vision: deliver safe water access through a self-sufficient program. While we’re still a long way from a self-funded program, last year, the UNFCCC approved our largest consignment of carbon credits to date. Carbon funds provide an important leverage opportunity for the program’s donor funding – and contribute to our ability to provide safe water to over 4 million people.
Evidence Action has prepared a comprehensive program toolkit, in order to guide potential technical and public partners in providing technical assistance to programs similar to G-United. We encourage other governments, technical partners and organizations to use the materials, tools, processes and strategies described here.
This has been a tremendous year not just for us, but for the field of evidence-based international development as a whole. As we wrap up a year full of impact, here are some important milestones from our work this year.
For seven consecutive years, Evidence Action has supported the Kenyan government’s National School-Based Deworming program. Based on our support to this successful program, in 2016 the government sought similar assistance with another program focused on a different NTD: lymphatic filariasis.
Meet Jeff Grosz, the new Senior Director of Accelerator and the newest member of the Global Leadership Team. Jeff will play a key role in executing Evidence Action’s new 5 year strategy, as he and his team work to develop new programs that can match the impact of our flagships.
Evidence Action has decided to wind-down and hibernate our Winning Start program, designed to connect youth volunteers to primary schools, where they conducted foundational literacy and numeracy sessions. Challenges with government resourcing, coupled with Evidence Action’s strategic shift towards ready-to-scale and primarily health delivery-focused interventions, led to this decision.
Evidence Action heartily congratulates Michael Kremer, Esther Duflo, and Abhijit Banerjee on their recently awarded Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.Their recognition holds special significance for us as their work has a profound bearing on our own: Evidence Action was launched to scale up innovations backed by such rigorous evidence – ensuring that millions of people could benefit from proven solutions.
I’m excited to share Evidence Action’s strategy and plans for the next 5 years. By 2024 Evidence Action plans to double our impact, measurably improving the lives of hundreds of millions of people and leading the way in evidence-based, cost-effective international development.
Adoption rates are the most critical success metric for Dispensers for Safe Water and as an organization focused on continuous improvement, we are always looking for ways to sustain and improve these rates.
We’ve supported India’s National Deworming Day for the last ~4 years, but monitoring a program of such magnitude isn’t easy. Our data collection has had to evolve with scale in order to continually support cost-effectiveness and maximize efficiency.