Improve Health & Fight Infectious Disease.
Over 7,500 children die every day from preventable diseases.
These diseases can easily be treated & prevented with proper care & resources.
Problem: Malaria in Children
A child dies from malaria every 2 minutes. Yearly, approximately 200 million people contract malaria and over 400,000 die from it.
Malaria is one of the most severe public health problems worldwide and is specifically dangerous to young children and pregnant women. Children who contract malaria can suffer from severe anaemia (major cause of poor child-development) and cerebral malaria (swelling of the brain that causes seizures and other neurological complications). For pregnant women, malaria increases the risk of spontaneous abortion and stillbirth. In addition to the health impact, malaria creates a significant economic toll associated with costs from healthcare, absenteeism, days lost in education, and decreased productivity. These costs are estimated to be over $12 billion per year in Africa alone.
Malaria is easy and inexpensive to prevent:
- Long-Lasting Insecticidal Bed Nets (LLINs): Distribute LLINs to all people in an affected area. These nets are set up at night around sleeping areas, and block, kill, and/or repel mosquitoes.
- Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention (SMC): Provide children between the ages of 3 months and 5 years with anti-malarial medicine during the rainy season. This has been proven to reduce approximately 75% of all malaria cases.
- Media Health Campaigns: Broadcast large scale media health campaigns via radio, televisions and mobile videos to millions of people in low income communities, regarding how to identify and protect themselves against malaria and how to access local resources and health workers.
- LLINs: A LLIN costs only $2 per net and protects two people for up to three years.
- SMC: Total cost for delivering SMC is $4.25 per child per rainy season.
- Media Health Campaigns: Costs $22 per DALY (disability adjusted life year) or $602 per life saved.
Blindness & vision impairment are often caused by combination of malnutrition, poor water quality, lack of sanitation & inadequate healthcare and health education. These forces conspire to spread diseases which damage vision & impedes access to treatment. Blindness can also be deadly. A high porportion of blind children die within a few years of losing sight, either from the underlying disease or due to the inability of their impoverished families to care for them.
Inexpensive Sight Restoring Surgery or Medication.
- Many cases of blindness and vision impairment are easily treatable & prevented.
- Provide sight-saving surgeries.
- Supply glasses.
- Provide clinical & health training.
A 10-minute cataract surgery costs as little as $50 per person in developing countries. Similarly, manufacturing & distributing quality intraocular lenses cost only $5 per pair (compared to $100–150 typical US market price).
Problem: Preventable Blindness & Vision
Nearly 1 billion people worldwide are living with preventable vision impairment – 90% of those affected live in the developing world. Visual impairment & blindness entrenches people in poverty & can be extremely harmful for those affected.
Problem: Vitamin A Deficiency
Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that supports the immune, vision & reproductive systems. Trials conducted by GiveWell found that Vitamin A supplementation delivered in locations with high child mortality rates is one of the most effective ways to save & improve a child’s life.
Children aged 6-months to 5-years in many areas of extreme poverty are at high-risk for Vitamin A deficiency (VAD). An estimated 100,000 children die each year from VAD-related causes. This deficiency causes stunting, anemia, dry eyes (the leading cause of preventable childhood blindness) & susceptibility to infection and death. Vitamin A deficiency is due to diets that include few animal sources & little fortified food.
Vitamin A Supplementation.
- Oral vitamin A supplementation is the most widely practiced & proven approaches to control deficiency in high risk countries & areas.
- One of the most effective interventions is periodic prophylactic vitamin A supplementation to pre-school children of age 6-months to 5-years.
Vitamin A supplementation is inexpensive – generally estimated to cost around $2.46 per child per year.
Several factors prevent infants and children from being immunized including transportation costs, cultural barriers & lack of awareness. The following vaccines are extremely important for children: BCG (against tuberculosis), PENTA (again diphteria, tetanus, whooping cough), PCV (against pnerumoccal disease) & MCV (against measles).
Provide money & resources to low-income households in return for fulfilling specific behavior conditions – such as vaccinations – is one of the most highly-effective solution to increase immunization rates. Conditional cash transfer programs have been proven to increase immunization rates, while also increasing awareness of the overall health benefits of childhood vaccinations.
On average, the total cost to immunize one child through the New Incentives program is $47 per child.
Problem: Low Immunization Rates
Many infants & children are vulnerable to severe disease outbreaks — leading to increased mortality.
Problem: Intestinal Worms & Parasites
Controlling and eliminating parasitic worms in infected children is one of the most effective ways to improve a child’s health. Schistosomiasis is a parasitic worm transmitted through infested water typically during everyday activities, such as bathing, fishing & washing clothes in lakes, rivers or ponds. STH is another parasitic worm transmitted through feces and soil.
206 million people are affected by schistosomiasis and 1.5 billion are infected with STH. The World Health Organization (WHO) calls these parasitic worms a “neglected tropical disease” that affect the poorest and most marginalized communities in the world. Infection with these parasites can result in anemia, blood in urine, abdominal pain, and genital discomfort. These symptoms can lead to impaired cognitive development, reduced school attendance, long-term stunted growth, internal organ damage (such as liver fibrosis), increased risk of HIV infection & bladder cancer.
School-Based Deworming Programs.
- Mass deworming pill distributions given through schools in at-risk communities is an inexpensive & safe solution to treating STH and schistosomiasis.
- Deworming can lead to a 25% increase in school attendance and better health outcomes, jobs & earnings.
School-based deworming initiatives cost less than $0.50 per child per treatment.
Many illnesses can be easily treated with access to high-quality, affordable & sustainable medical devices. However, without this equipment, these untreated illnesses can get exponential worse leading to severe health implications. Similarly, many medical devices get donated; however, many times the costs to service and/or fix a broken part in these devices are not financially feasible, leading to an inability to use the machine altogether.
Create affordable and sustainable medical technology for everyone.
- Dedicate resources to conduct real, on-the-ground assessments of the needs of emerging markets to support health, productivity & independence – and then take action.
- Identify the biggest gaps and opportunities in health care where technology can do the most good.
- Design affordable, world-class medical products that work in the toughest circumstances.
- Build global distribution network to ensure their products get to those who need them most.
The costs of researching, designing & launching these medical devices vary greatly based on the device.
For example, Equalize Health was able to design & launch a product, Brilliance Lamp, a high-quality, low-cost phototherapy lamp to treat babies suffering from jaundice and/or brain damage. This lamp costs $400-$500 compared to the previous, traditional phototherapy devices which costs anywhere from $1,500-$10,000.
Problem: Lack of Access to High-Quality, Affordable Medical Devices
Without the right medical equipment, hospitals & clinicians cannot provide adequate treatment to the world’s poorest people.
Problem: Lack of Access to Health & Wellness Information
Lack of information to health & wellness information combined with sociocultural barriers results in millions of preventable deaths, especially among children, in developing countries.
5.3 million children under the age of 5 die every year. Over half of these deaths are preventable, if simple, inexpensive interventions, such as handwashing, were used.
Media Health Campaigns:
- Media health campaigns broadcast via radio, television & mobile videos to millions of people in low-income countries to facilitate information exchange.
- These campaigns raise awareness of local health care services & promote positive behaviors.
- In a single campaign, communities can be educated on multiple health issues and the availability of local resources.
- Ex. Exclusive breastfeeding of infants & seeking treatment for known symptoms associated with fatal diseases.
Research from Givewell on the efficacy of media health campaigns show that mass media inteventions have the potential to be highly cost-effective given its ability to reach many people at scale. For example, DMI’s campaigns are estimated to cost only $22 per DALY (disability-adjusted life year) or $602 per life saved.