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Hopkins study shows poor in India helped by information

By Heather Barbakoff | November 14, 2007

A study conducted by researchers at the Hopkins School of Medicine, the World Bank and Case Western Reserve has found a reasonably easy way to increase the health of populations in developing countries.

The study found that the simple solution is to inform the citizens of the many different services that their governments provide.

The results were recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

They predict that this knowledge would help encourage the underprivileged populations to take advantage of the health, educational and social services provided.

Developing countries, India included, frequently have federal governments which provide different service programs. These programs, however, are sometimes inadequately provided.

The research team hypothesized that examining how well the residents of the poorest Indian states were informed of these services was would affect the services' use.

The study was concentrated in Uttar Pradesh where fewer than 60 percent are literate, forcing researchers to devise an outreach program that could educate those unable to read.

The team used a variety of methods to educate the citizens, such as playing public service announcements about what services they are entitled to.

Drastic differences were seen between the control groups that did not receive educational intervention and the experimental groups that did.

The numbers of prenatal exams, prenatal supplements and vaccinations went up in the experimental-group villages.

An intervention program such as this costs about 22 cents per household to run, with various methods to lower costs still being finalized.

The methodology used in this case study could be helpful for use in other countries as well.

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