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Health

Kenya rising and Germany falling: A tale of two populations

Wolfgang Fengler's picture

Today, October 31, 2011 our planet reaches a new milestone: we are 7 billion people on earth.

In the past, when the world’s population was a fraction of what it is today, the expansion of humanity was a source of alarm and many apocalyptic tales. More than 200 years ago, Thomas Malthus, one of the leading scholars and economists at that time predicted that the world would simply run out of food. Then, we were less than one billion people.

Now I want to take you on a journey into the future.

If it is free, people will queue up…but for how long?

Vijay Pillai's picture

It’s a long ride on a non-motorable road to Pujehun district in the south of Sierra Leone.  We are on a visit to see how the country’s Free Health Care Initiative (FHCI) for pregnant women and young children is working out. 

In the maternity ward of the district hospital, a woman proudly shows us her new born baby – it’s her third child and fourth pregnancy.  But, more importantly, her first child to be delivered in a hospital.  She is among the thousands of women who have delivered in hospitals for the first time since the introduction of free health care. Are we seeing early signs of a change in health seeking behavior among the poor in the country?

Using knowledge to empower poor people

Shanta Devarajan's picture

I felt privileged to speak to the freshman class of Princeton University, my alma mater, at the annual “Reflections on Service”  event organized by the Pace Center.  In my speech, I drew on my work on the 2004 World Development Report, Making Service Work for Poor People and since then in South Asia and Africa, as well as my village immersion experience living and working with a woman in Gujarat, India who earns $1.25 a day. 

Both sets of experiences taught me how government programs—in health, education, water, sanitation, agriculture, infrastructure—that are intended to benefit the poor often fail to do so because they are captured by the non-poor who are politically more powerful.  I suggested to the students that, in addition to getting a good education and undertaking volunteer activities, they consider using their education to inform poor people, so that they can bring pressure to bear on politicians for pro-poor reforms.  The two examples I used to illustrate—citizen report cards in Bangalore and public expenditure tracking surveys in Uganda—were from the 1990s; with the penetration of cell phones in Africa and South Asia, getting knowledge to poor people in 2011 should be easier.

Veuves pauvres et négligées au Mali

Dominique Van De Walle's picture

Comme beaucoup de lecteurs, j’étais consciente de la discrimination et du sévère désavantage auxquels les veuves font face dans de nombreux pays. 

Néanmoins, ce que j’ai trouvé en examinant des données maliennes était bien pire encore que ce que j’imaginais.  Comme je le documente dans un récent article (Effets persistants du veuvage sur le bien-être dans un pays pauvre, 5734), les femmes maliennes qui ont connu le choc d’un veuvage ont un bien-être moins élevé que d’autres femmes du même âge.  Par ailleurs, les effets négatifs du veuvage persistent après un remariage et sont transmis aux enfants – probablement plus à leurs filles – ce qui suggère une transmission intergénérationnelle de la pauvreté engendrée par le veuvage.

Cameroon: Towards better service delivery

Raju Jan Singh's picture

The quality of service delivery is fundamental for people's wellbeing, especially for the poor. This is why the situation in Cameroon is worrisome.

Indicators for service delivery in Cameroon tend to trail behind those observed in countries at similar income levels; and for indicators such as primary school completion or child mortality, the country does even worse than the average for Sub-Saharan Africa.

HIV/AIDS, the silent war in Africa

Damien de Walque's picture

Under-5 mortality is often used—perhaps implicitly—as a measure of “population health”.  But what is happening to adult mortality in Africa? 

In a recent working paperi , we combine data from 84 Demographic and Health Surveys from 46 countries, and calculate mortality based on the sibling mortality reports collected from female respondents aged 15-49. The working paper is available here and the database we used for the analysis can be found here.

We find that adult mortality is quite different from child mortality (under-5 mortality)1.   This is perhaps obvious to most readers, but is clearly illustrated in figure 1. While in general both under-5 and adult mortality decline with per-capita income, and over time, the latter effect is much smaller for adult mortality, which has barely shifted in countries outside Africa between 1975-79 and 2000-04.

But in sub-Saharan Africa, contrary to under-5 mortality everywhere and to adult mortality outside of Africa, adult mortality increased between 1975-79 and 2000-04 and the relationship between adult mortality and income became positive in Africa as indicated by the upward sloping line in 2000-04.

This diverging and dramatic trend for sub-Saharan Africa is mainly driven by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. 

How can Zimbabwe avoid having the world’s worst Human Development Index?

Martin Ravallion's picture

Each year the mass media and many governments look keenly at the country rankings by the Human Development Index (HDI). In the 2010 Human Development Report, Zimbabwe has the lowest HDI in the world at 0.14 on a (0,1) scale (UNDP, 2010). The next lowest is the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with 0.24. (Norway is highest, at 0.94.)

It is natural to ask: what would Zimbabwe need to do to get its HDI up to the level of the DRC or better? Zimbabweans will no doubt have a strong interest in knowing the answer, as will those interested in the HDI in general.

There are three components to the HDI, for life expectancy, schooling and income. Let’s look at these in turn.

The Oxford Millennium Villages Debate

Gabriel Demombynes's picture

In March at Oxford, I had the opportunity to debate John McArthur on the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) evaluation, which is the subject of a paper I co-authored with Michael Clemens of the Center for Global Development.

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