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Ashok Kotwal
On demonetisation
Posted on: 23 Dec 2016
On the evening of 8 November, the Prime Minister announced on national television that Rs. ... read on »
Introduction to e-Symposium: The GDP conundrum
Posted on: 16 Nov 2016
Ever since India’s Central Statistical Organisation came out with the new GDP series with ... read on »
Introduction to e-Symposium: The idea of a universal basic income in the Indian context
Posted on: 26 Sep 2016
The idea of an unconditional basic income given to all citizens by the State, has caught o ... read on »
Introduction to e-Symposium: Ideas for reforms in education policy in India
Posted on: 18 Nov 2015
A New Education Policy is being formulated in India based on a time-bound grassroots consu ... read on »

Topic: Health

On Delhi’s mohalla clinics
Chandrakant Lahariya
Posted on: 16/04/2017 01:47:42
Topics:   Health


The Delhi government planned to set up 1,000 mohalla or community clinics in the state by end-2016, but only one-tenth of the target was met in the proposed timeline. In this article, public health expert Chandrakant Lahariya contends that in the success or failure of this initiative, at stake is the future of the efforts to reform the health system and strengthen primary healthcare in urban areas across Indian states.
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Demand for environmental quality information and household response to information: Evidence from Bihar
Prabhat Barnwal , Chander Kumar Singh , Alexander van Geen , Jan von der Goltz
Posted on: 20/02/2017 09:59:45
Topics:   Environment , Health


Groundwater contaminated with arsenic is a serious public health threat in rural India. This column presents results from a field experiment conducted in Bihar to assess the demand for fee-based testing of wells for arsenic, and to study the behavioural responses of households to well-specific arsenic information.
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Unique Health Identification and Aadhaar: A case for mandatory linkage
Mudit Kapoor
Posted on: 23/12/2016 11:02:43
Topics:   Health


As part of the Digital India initiative, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) issues a Unique Health Identification (UHID) number to each patient, which documents their entire journey in the hospital. AIIMS has called for a mandatory linkage between UHID and Aadhaar. In this article, Mudit Kapoor, Associate Professor at ISI Delhi Centre, explains how this step can have significant positive implications for delivery and democratisation of healthcare.
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The devil is in the details: Successes and limitations of bureaucratic reform
Iqbal Dhaliwal , Rema Hanna , Rebecca Toole
Posted on: 09/12/2016 10:18:00
Topics:   Health


To address absenteeism among staff at public healthcare facilities, the government of Karnataka introduced an innovative biometric device to monitor and enforce attendance rules. This column presents findings of a large randomised evaluation of the programme. While some health gains were achieved, imperfect enforcement illustrates the limits of monitoring solutions if there are constraints on full implementation in practice.
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Understaffed, underserved: Human problems of India’s public health system
Prateek Mittal , Vartika Singh
Posted on: 13/10/2016 09:24:15
Topics:   Health


India’s progress in reducing infant and maternal mortality is rather slow. This column shows the extent of shortfall of gynaecologists and auxiliary nurse midwives - the frontline of the battle against infant and maternal mortality – across health facilities in the country. It argues that along with absenteeism in public services, vacancies is a crucial area that requires improvement.
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Making India open-defecation free by 2019
Bhaskar Pant
Posted on: 06/09/2016 02:42:46

Swachh Bharat Mission – the flagship sanitation programme of the Indian government – aims to make India open-defecation free by 2019. However, this has only been achieved in 17 of 686 districts so far. In this article, Bhaskar Pant outlines the key reasons due to which the government’s efforts are not being reflected in the results, and makes suggestions to increase the effectiveness of the programme.
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Using geospatial methods in estimating exposure to open defecation
Prashant Arya , Nikhil George , Amandeep Singh
Posted on: 03/08/2016 09:38:15
Topics:   Health


Eliminating open defecation is an important policy priority in India. In this article, Arya, George and Singh from the Centre for Policy Research, illustrate how using readily available geospatial data to estimate exposure to open defecation can help focus public investment and efforts in areas where it is needed the most.
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Water quality awareness and behaviour change
Gauri Kartini Shastry , Pinar Keskin , Hannah Ruebeck
Posted on: 28/07/2016 00:51:51
Topics:   Health


Universal access to clean water is far from a reality in many developing countries. This column examines a nationwide information campaign that attempted to minimise the use of arsenic-contaminated tubewells in Bangladesh. It finds that mothers in arsenic-contaminated areas are more likely to exclusively breastfeed their children, and breastfeed for longer after the campaign - likely out of concern for child well-being. It also finds that infant health improves.
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Improved cooking stoves in India: Evaluating long-run impacts
Esther Duflo , Michael Greenstone , Rema Hanna , Claire Walsh
Posted on: 13/07/2016 09:29:25
Topics:   Environment , Health


Improved cooking stoves are increasingly seen as an important technology to address indoor air pollution. While laboratory experiments have shown that they could have big effects on smoke exposure and emissions, this column finds limited long-run health and environmental impacts of an improved cooking stove programme in Odisha. This indicates the importance of testing interventions in real-world conditions taking into account willingness to pay, usage, and changes over time.
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Maternity entitlements for healthier babies
Diane Coffey , Payal Hathi
Posted on: 07/07/2016 12:42:28
Topics:   Gender , Health


The National Food Security Act, 2013 provides for a maternity benefit of not less than Rs. 6,000 for every pregnant and lactating mother in India. In this article, Coffey and Hathi explain why maternity entitlements are a good investment, and discuss how they should be designed to have the biggest impact on the health and productivity of the next generation.
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The growing problem of excess weight in India
Pushkar Maitra , Nidhiya Menon
Posted on: 27/06/2016 09:36:06
Topics:   Health
Tags:  


The Indian population is increasingly becoming overweight or obese, and this phenomenon is likely to impose a considerable health burden in the future. Analysing data from the Indian Human Development Survey, this column finds that obesity is more evident among affluent, well-educated, urban groups, especially adult women. Increasing incomes and sedentary lifestyles are key contributing factors.
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Ensuring access to medicines through PPPs
Satarupa Bandyopadhyay , Arijita Dutta
Posted on: 24/06/2016 09:17:19
Topics:   Health
Tags:   West Bengal


To address the issue of low access to basic medicines by the general public, the state government of West Bengal introduced Fair Price Medicine Shops in secondary and tertiary hospitals through a Public Private Partnership model. This column finds that while there is scope for improving the coverage of patients and availability of medicines, the programme has been successful in reducing out-of-pocket expenditures on medicines.
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India’s informal doctors: Assets, not crooks
Jishnu Das
Posted on: 13/06/2016 09:52:00
Topics:   Health


Informal healthcare providers are the most common, and sometimes the only source of healthcare, in much of rural India. In this article, Jishnu Das of the World Bank argues that informal providers should be trained and their impact evaluated to see if it improves healthcare for poor people.
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Early life nutrition and future educational outcomes: Findings from ICDS
Ramanan Laxminarayan , Arindam Nandi
Posted on: 25/04/2016 09:56:09
Topics:   Education , Health


Integrated Child Development Services – India’s flagship child nutrition programme – has recently suffered a major cut in funding. This column shows that supplementary nutrition provided under the programme positively influences long-term educational outcomes of children. The findings suggest that funding for the programme should be fully restored and efforts should be made to address its systemic inefficiencies.
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Public health insurance for tertiary diseases: Lessons from Andhra’s Aarogyasri programme
Sisir Debnath , Tarun Jain
Posted on: 12/04/2016 15:10:01
Topics:   Health


Private health insurance covering tertiary diseases is limited to the upper middle class in India. One reason for low take-up of publicly-financed health insurance among economically weaker sections is that treatment of tertiary diseases relies critically on specific information on facilities and treatment options. This column presents evidence from Andhra’s Aarogyasri programme suggesting that community networks might be an important channel through which such information is obtained.
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Self-reported health data: Issues and solutions
Aparajita Dasgupta
Posted on: 23/03/2016 09:33:20
Topics:   Health


Health data from the National Sample Survey shows an increase in morbidity in India over the years. However, given that the data is self-reported, it is difficult to ascertain whether this indeed reflects higher actual illness burden or an enhanced perception of morbidity. This column shows that reporting behaviour varies systematically with socio-demographic characteristics, and this can be used to disentangle perceived and actual morbidity.
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Improving maternal and child health through conditional cash transfers
Sisir Debnath
Posted on: 21/03/2016 09:52:42
Topics:   Gender , Health


Cash transfers to the poor, conditional on use of particular public services, are a popular tool to increase healthcare utilisation. This column evaluates the impact of one such scheme – Janani Suraksha Yojana - and finds that it encouraged pregnant women to deliver babies at healthcare facilities. It also suggests that the marginal effect of cash incentives is larger when provided to healthcare workers rather than mothers.
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How has MNREGA impacted the lives of women and children in India?
Subha Mani
Posted on: 15/03/2016 11:07:04

In this article, Subha Mani, Professor of Economics at Fordham University, summarises evidence that shows that MNREGA has mostly positively impacted the lives of women and children in India.

Tweet using #MNREGA10yrs

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Ganga pollution cases: Impact on infant mortality
Shareen Joshi
Posted on: 26/02/2016 09:54:53
Topics:   Environment , Health


In response to a writ petition against pollution of the river Ganga due to industrial waste, the Supreme Court of India in 1987 mandated the tanneries in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh to either clean up or shut down. This column finds that the ruling resulted in a significant drop in river pollution, which in turn reduced infant mortality in the city.
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Maternal mortality and gender prejudice
Sonia Bhalotra , Damian C. Clarke , Joseph Flavian Gomes , Atheendar Venkataramani
Posted on: 22/02/2016 09:20:43
Topics:   Gender , Health


While maternal mortality has fallen sharply in the last decade, it remains unnecessarily high at about 800 deaths a day worldwide. Moreover, there is enormous variation in levels and rates of decline across countries, even after accounting for differences in income. This column discusses new evidence showing that gender prejudice explains a significant part of this variation.
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Child development: How are Indian states faring?
Jean Drèze , Reetika Khera
Posted on: 10/12/2015 09:30:09
Topics:   Education , Health


The recent release of the ‘Rapid Survey On Children’ report presents an opportunity to take a fresh look at the state of Indian children. Based on a simple Child Development Index constructed for 2005-06 and 2013-14, this column finds that Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh are at the top. Other states – even Bihar – can catch up, but only if they learn the right lessons from the leading states.
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Has the ICDS helped reduce stunting in India?
Monica Jain
Posted on: 09/10/2015 09:19:39
Topics:   Health


While stunting has declined sharply in India, the levels remain disturbingly high at 38.7%. This column evaluates the impact of the supplementary feeding component of ICDS – India’s flagship programme for early child development - and finds sizable positive effects on heights of 0-2 year olds. However, these gains are achievable only if the programme is focused on this age group and if food is delivered regularly.
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Tackling India’s dengue problem
Chandrakant Lahariya
Posted on: 01/10/2015 00:15:21
Topics:   Health


The dengue virus has infected 25,000 people in India this year, with about 6,000 in Delhi alone. In this article, Chandrakant Lahariya, a public health policy expert, contends that the dengue situation represents a failure of local public health administration, and calls for a holistic approach to address the root causes and ensure long-term solutions.
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No toilet, no bride: Toilet ownership and marriage prospects of men in India
Britta Augsburg , Paul Andrés Rodríguez Lesmes
Posted on: 30/09/2015 10:23:06
Topics:   Health


A growing body of research shows that costs are a key barrier to sanitation investments by households. Based on a survey in Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, this column finds that apart from financial and health considerations, the decision of households to acquire toilets is influenced by the belief that toilet ownership improves prospects of finding good marriage matches for sons.
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Drug quality and global trade
Amir Attaran , Roger Bate , Aparna Mathur , Ginger Zhe Jin
Posted on: 18/09/2015 10:24:57
Topics:   Health , Trade
Tags:   Africa


There is a perception amongst pharmaceutical experts that some Indian manufacturers and/or their distributors segment the global medicine market into portions that are served by different quality medicines. This column finds that drug quality is poorer among Indian-labelled drugs purchased in African countries than among those purchased in India or middle-income countries. Substandard drugs – non-registered in Africa and containing insufficient amounts of the active ingredient – are the biggest driver of this quality difference.
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Is maternal health in India worse than we thought?
Diane Coffey
Posted on: 12/08/2015 09:49:37
Topics:   Health


Since India does not have a national system to monitor health during pregnancy, the fraction of women of child-bearing age who are underweight - 35.5% - is used as a proxy for the fraction of pre-pregnant women who are underweight. This column presents new research that finds that the actual proportion of pre-pregnant women who are underweight is 7 percentage points higher than this figure.
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Beyond toilets: Improving the sanitation value chain
Sujaya Rathi
Posted on: 21/07/2015 12:17:54

Besides access to toilets, proper treatment and disposal of waste is essential for effective sanitation. In this article, Sujaya Rathi - Principal Research Scientist at CSTEP who is currently involved with developing decision-support tool for sanitation - discusses alternate sanitation systems and the importance of adopting a system that is well-suited to the context and needs of particular cities.
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Drafting India’s new national health policy: A window of opportunity
Chandrakant Lahariya , Nata Menabde
Posted on: 15/07/2015 09:47:20
Topics:   Health
Tags:   healthcare


The Indian government is working on drafting a new national health policy and designing a health assurance mission, in parallel with developing its national health accounts. In this article, Nata Menabde and Chandrakant Lahariya – public health policy experts at the World Health Organization - contend that this opportunity has the potential to transform the health status of millions of Indians and achieve universal health coverage.
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Religion and health in early childhood: Evidence from South Asia
Elizabeth Brainerd , Nidhiya Menon
Posted on: 03/07/2015 09:43:16
Topics:   Health


The widespread malnutrition of children in South Asia is persistent and troubling. Given the importance of religion in the region, this column examines the relationship between inequalities in child health and religious identity across India, Bangladesh and Nepal. It finds a consistent trend of Muslim advantage in infancy, vis-à-vis Hindus, and its reversal after 12 months of age across the three countries.
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Women’s empowerment and child malnutrition in rural India
Samuel Annim , Raghav Gaiha , Katsushi Imai , Veena S. Kulkarni
Posted on: 19/06/2015 00:00:00
Topics:   Gender , Health


Research has found mother’s empowerment to have a positive impact on the nutrition status of their children. This column analyses this relationship for data from rural India for the period 1992-2006. Among other factors, it highlights the importance of mother’s education in relation to father’s education in determining children’s nutrition.
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India’s national immunisation programme: Moving from policy to action
Chandrakant Lahariya
Posted on: 08/06/2015 00:00:00
Topics:   Health
Tags:   healthcare


About a year ago, the Prime Minister’s Office in India announced the introduction of four new vaccines in the national immunisation programme. In this article, Chandrakant Lahariya, a public health policy expert, discusses the significance of the decision. He highlights gaps between policy decisions and action with respect to the immunisation programme in the past, and emphasises the need for speedy and effective implementation of the announcement.
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Encouraging household investment in sanitation
Raymond Guiteras , James Levinsohn , Mushfiq Mobarak
Posted on: 13/05/2015 00:00:00
Topics:   Health


While the detrimental effects of poor sanitation are widely known, there is disagreement about the key barriers to expanding improved sanitation coverage. This column presents results from a field experiment in Bangladesh that designs, implements and tests a range of sanitation marketing strategies. It finds that cost is the primary barrier to adoption, and that investment decisions are interlinked across neighbours.
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A campaign to end malnutrition in Bihar
Hena Naqvi
Posted on: 08/05/2015 00:00:00
Topics:   Health


About 55% of 0-3 year old children in the state of Bihar are malnourished. In this article, Hena Naqvi, State Programme Officer at the Department of Social Welfare, Government of Bihar, describes an ambitious campaign launched by the government in October 2014 to reduce child malnutrition in the state to 30% by 2017.
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Getting centre-state relations right for health in India
Amanda Glassman , Anit Mukherjee
Posted on: 01/04/2015 00:00:00

The 14th Finance Commission has recommended devolving a greater share of revenues to states in order to give them more control over spending. In this article, Amanda Glassman and Anit Mukherjee examine the current centre-state relationships in the context of the health sector in India. They recommend that centre-to-state transfers should be performance-related, and should seek to, at least partly, level the playing field across states.
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How serious is the government about Swachh Bharat Mission?
Sangita Vyas
Posted on: 20/03/2015 00:00:00

The recently announced Union budget 2015-16 has reduced the central government allocation for Swachh Bharat Mission – the flagship sanitation programme of the government. In this article, Sangita Vyas, Managing Director for Sanitation at r.i.c.e., questions the commitment of the government to eliminating open defecation in India by 2019.
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Public spending on health coverage: Are we raising the right questions?
Samik Chowdhury , Indrani Gupta
Posted on: 13/02/2015 00:00:00
Topics:   Health


The National Health Assurance Mission – India’s first move towards Universal Health Coverage – is expected to be launched soon. In this context, this column analyses the extent, distribution and quality of current public spending on healthcare. It suggests that the planning for a national programme for health coverage should take into account issues of fragmentation, inequity and inefficiency in the public healthcare system.
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Droughts and child health
Santosh Kumar , Ramona Molitor , Sebastian Vollmer
Posted on: 27/01/2015 00:00:00
Topics:   Health


Research has pointed towards the importance of foetal health in child development. Assessing the impact of rainfall variability on child health, this column finds that exposure to drought in the womb increases the child’s likelihood of being underweight. It suggests that policies aimed at reducing child malnutrition need to start at the beginning of human life, that is, in the womb.
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How effective is Janani Suraksha Yojana?
Shareen Joshi , Anusuya Sivaram
Posted on: 18/12/2014 00:00:00
Topics:   Health


Janani Suraksha Yojana - India’s safe motherhood programme – provides poor women with a financial incentive for delivering births at health centres and seeking antenatal and postnatal care. This column finds that the programme has had limited success. While women with no formal education and those from rural areas have benefitted disproportionately, the programme has failed to reach the poorest women.
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Taxing tobacco
Rijo M. John
Posted on: 09/12/2014 00:00:00
Topics:   Health


The steep increase in excise taxes on cigarettes in this year’s Union Budget is a welcome move. However, this column argues that unless more commonly consumed bidis are also taxed heavily, the public health objectives of tobacco taxation will go up in smoke.
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Financing sanitation
Meera Mehta , Dinesh Mehta
Posted on: 11/11/2014 00:00:00
Topics:   Health


The Government of India has set a rather ambitious goal of eliminating open defecation by 2019. For urban areas, this implies providing toilets to about 22 million households. This column contends that it is possible to achieve this goal if the limited public funds are leveraged to facilitate innovative financing mechanisms, through a demand-led scheme for toilets.
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Analysing efficiency of government hospitals in West Bengal
Satarupa Bandyopadhyay , Arijita Dutta , Arpita Ghose
Posted on: 24/10/2014 00:00:00
Topics:   Health


Given the insufficient public investment in the health sector in India, optimal utilisation of resources in the sector is crucial. This column analyses the efficiency of secondary government hospitals in West Bengal. It finds a huge slack in the use of resources such as doctors. With better monitoring, hospitals will be able to serve more patients with existing resources.
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Swachh Bharat Mission: The long walk from rhetoric to implementation
Varad Pande
Posted on: 01/10/2014 00:00:00
Topics:   Health


Swachh Bharat Mission – the flagship sanitation programme of the Indian government – aims to realise the dream of a ‘clean India’ by 2 October 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. In this article, Varad Pande contends that while the renewed rhetoric on sanitation is welcome, the devil will be in the detail. We must learn from past experience and global and Indian best practice, and not repeat the same mistakes.
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The youngest are hungriest
Seema Jayachandran , Rohini Pande
Posted on: 17/09/2014 00:00:00
Topics:   Health , Gender


Babies born in India are more likely to be stunted than those in sub-Saharan Africa, even though the former are better off on average. This column examines how the India-Africa height gap varies by birth order within the family and finds that it begins with the second-born and becomes more pronounced with each subsequent baby. Favouritism toward firstborn sons in India explains this trend.
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Can MNREGA buffer negative shocks in early childhood?
Aparajita Dasgupta
Posted on: 29/08/2014 00:00:00

Exposure to negative shocks such as drought during early childhood is known to have lasting, detrimental effects on human development outcomes. This column examines whether a household’s access to MNREGA, later in the life of the child, can offset the impact of early childhood shocks. It finds that programme access, although incapable of correcting for past deficiencies, does mitigate the impact of recent shocks.
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Left, right, and toilets
Dean Spears
Posted on: 19/08/2014 11:21:59
Topics:   Health


Eliminating open defecation in India is a policy priority. This column contends that successful strategies for reducing open defecation may not fit policy stereotypes of the left or the right. While rural sanitation policy in states where this practice is most concentrated has been focused on latrine construction, promotion of latrine use is what will make a difference.
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What the Muslim mortality paradox reveals about importance of sanitation for all children in India
Michael Geruso
Posted on: 18/08/2014 00:00:00
Topics:   Health


It has long been noted that in India, Hindu children face substantially higher mortality rates than Muslim children, despite being relatively richer on average. This column shows that differences in latrine use by religion can fully explain this pattern. This phenomenon sheds new light on how the open defecation practices of a household can influence the health of its neighbours.
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Culture, religion and open defecation in rural north India
Diane Coffey
Posted on: 14/08/2014 00:00:00
Topics:   Health


Open defecation in rural India is a human development emergency that is causing infant deaths, child stunting, and widespread infectious diseases. This column presents surprising qualitative and quantitative research about why so many people in rural India defecate in the open, even when latrines are available.
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Putting undernutrition higher on the political agenda in India
Lawrence Haddad
Posted on: 02/07/2014 00:00:00
Topics:   Health


In his previous article, Lawrence Haddad contented that globally, we are in the midst of a ‘perfect storm’ for ending undernutrition, and maximum effort is required to take advantage of this transformative opportunity. In this part, he discusses how the new government generates a new opportunity to put undernutrition prevention higher on the political agenda in India.
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Ending undernutrition: In clear sight?
Lawrence Haddad
Posted on: 30/06/2014 00:00:00
Topics:   Health


The World Health Assembly is targeting a decline of 100 million in the number of stunted under-five children by 2025; a 10% decline in stunting rates in India by 2014 can close a fifth of the gap. This article contents that we are in the midst of a ‘perfect storm’ for ending undernutrition, and maximum effort is required to take advantage of this transformative opportunity.
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Impact of Community Health Workers on childhood immunisation: Evidence from India’s ASHAs
Tanvi Rao
Posted on: 27/06/2014 00:00:00
Topics:   Health


A key component of the National Rural Health Mission launched by the Indian government in 2005 was the introduction of a cadre of village-level Community Health Workers known as ASHAs. This column analyses the impact of the ASHA programme on childhood immunisation, and finds that ASHAs have had a positive impact by generating awareness regarding the need and availability of immunisation.
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What explains declining calorie consumption in India?
Amit Basole , Deepankar Basu
Posted on: 16/06/2014 00:00:00
Topics:   Health


It is puzzling to note that while real household expenditures and incomes in rural India have been on the rise, average calorie intake has declined. Analysing data from the National Sample Survey, this column finds that this is an outcome of a food-budget squeeze; rapidly rising expenses on non-food essentials such as cooking fuel are absorbing all the increases in real total expenditures
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The nutrition puzzles: Need for more holistic solutions
Uma Lele
Posted on: 28/04/2014 00:00:00
Topics:   Health , Agriculture


In this column, the author critiques the approach of only focusing on nutrition and health sector-related solutions for achieving food security. She calls for more holistic approaches that take into account the various contextual factors that influence food and nutrition outcomes for the majority of the undernourished, such as food production and systems, agricultural policies, food and beverage industry, sanitation, and the extent of social inclusion in government programmes and in the society at large.
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Open defecation in cities: A faltering India story
Meera Mehta , Dinesh Mehta
Posted on: 23/04/2014 00:00:00
Topics:   Health , Urbanisation


Despite significant public investment in urban sanitation, over 37 million people in Indian cities resort to open defecation. This column examines the existing information on open defecation in urban India, and finds that the most important determinant is access to on-premise toilets. Local government leadership, targeted and smart subsidies, stakeholder collaboration and innovative financing options can help increase such access and accelerate elimination of the problem.
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Giving up too early on malnourished children? Catch-up growth and Midday Meals
Abhijeet Singh
Posted on: 14/04/2014 00:00:00
Topics:   Health


It is widely believed that malnourishment in the first few years of childhood adversely affects cognition and adult economic outcomes. This column presents new research which shows that full recovery from early malnourishment is possible. Based on data from the state of Andhra Pradesh, it is found that the Midday Meals programme of the Government of India has been successful in compensating for early nutritional deprivation.
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Pricey diesel
E. Somanathan
Posted on: 31/03/2014 00:00:00
Topics:   Health


India was recently ranked 174th out of 178 countries, on air pollution. A key contributing factor is diesel vehicles. This column shows that diesel subsidies benefit the rich more than the poor, and emphasises the need to change current regulation to enforce fuel improvement measures. Although such policies seem expensive, the positive effects on sickness, health expenditures and productivity would outweigh the costs.
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Sanitation in India: First things first
Jeffrey Hammer
Posted on: 27/01/2014 00:00:00
Topics:   Health


Recent research points towards the role of poor sanitation in ill health and stunting. This column demonstrates the negative impact of open defecation habits and poor nutritional status on the height of children in India. It recommends that the government should prioritise sanitation by building infrastructure and spreading awareness, before focusing on providing publicly funded medical care.
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Some reflections on the National Food Security Act
Ashok Kotwal , Milind Murugkar , Bharat Ramaswami
Posted on: 10/12/2013 00:00:00

The Food Security Bill became an Act with little parliamentary opposition. Yet the public debate has lingered. Would subsidised food grains reduce malnutrition? Won’t it be better to invest in health and education instead? Can we afford the cost of subsidising food for such a large chunk of the population? Should we continue to waste money on the flawed PDS system? How will the grain markets be affected? This column offers a perspective on these important questions.
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How labels influence the decision to buy genetically modified food
Sangeeta Bansal , Sujoy Chakravarty , Bharat Ramaswami
Posted on: 28/10/2013 00:00:00
Tags:   consumption


A regulation mandating labelling for all packaged products has been in effect in India since the beginning of this year. This column examines the role of information provided by labels in the decision of consumers to buy genetically modified food. It is found that Indians have a lower threat perception of genetically modified ingredients as compared to Europeans.
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Delivering health services through schools in rural India
Anjini Kochar
Posted on: 04/10/2013 00:00:00
Topics:   Health


Given that India has better infrastructure for schooling relative to healthcare, and near universal primary school enrolment rates, many believe that providing basic health services through schools rather than clinics may be more cost effective. This column finds that coverage achieved by health programmes administered through schools is also low, even lower than the average school attendance rates. The key constraint on coverage is shortage of healthcare personnel.
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The unintended child health consequences of the Green Revolution in India
Nidhiya Menon
Posted on: 09/09/2013 00:00:00
Topics:   Health , Agriculture


While the Green Revolution in India greatly enhanced agricultural production, the enhanced use of fertilisers led to the contamination of surface and ground water. This column analyses the impact of fertiliser agrichemicals in water on infant and child health. It is found that exposure of mothers to these contaminants in the month after conception increases the chances of infant death within a month of birth, and also has long-lasting negative effects on child health.
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On tackling child malnutrition
Prakarsh Singh
Posted on: 30/08/2013 00:00:00
Topics:   Health


Is it the lack of information on nutrition given to mothers, or the lack of child care worker motivation that makes child malnutrition persist? This column cites results from a study undertaken in the slums of Chandigarh in North India to investigate this question. The findings suggest that that offering performance pay to child care workers is likely to be ineffective unless mothers have nutritional information available to them.
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Why are children in India so short?
Sangita Vyas
Posted on: 19/08/2013 00:00:00
Topics:   Health


Several scholars across disciplines provide converging evidence of the key role of open defecation in explaining child stunting in India. This column summarises the key themes of a recent conference at the Delhi School of Economics on child height in India.
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Tuberculosis control in India: More bang for bucks than simply saving lives
Ramanan Laxminarayan , Arindam Nandi
Posted on: 27/05/2013 00:00:00
Topics:   Health
Tags:   healthcare


India has one of the world’s worst records on tuberculosis. This column presents recommendations for how to fight it more cost effectively.
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Bihar’s malnutrition crisis and potential solutions
Ronald Abraham , Andrew Fraker
Posted on: 24/05/2013 00:00:00
Topics:   Corruption , Health


The prevalence of underweight children in Bihar is higher than in any country in the world, and the provision of public services to address malnutrition is poor. Based on an assessment of the government’s nutritional support to mothers and children, this column sheds light on the grim public service delivery, likely causes, and ideas to address the problem.
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Distance and institutional deliveries in rural India
Emily Dansereau , Santosh Kumar , Christopher Murray
Posted on: 19/04/2013 00:00:00
Topics:   Gender , Health


India has the highest rate of maternal deaths in the world. A major cause is that a significant proportion of women continue to deliver babies at home without the presence of a skilled attendant. This column says that distance to health facilities is a key barrier to seeking delivery care at a facility.
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India’s disputed ruling on pharmaceuticals and patents
Arvind Subramanian
Posted on: 10/04/2013 00:00:00

On April 1 2013, the Supreme Court of India rejected the attempt by Novartis, the Swiss pharmaceutical company, to patent a new version of the leukemia drug Glivec. The verdict follows previous rulings that granted compulsory licenses to an Indian generic drug manufacturer for a kidney cancer drug (Nexavar) patented by Bayer. This article discusses five important questions raised by these rulings.
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Reducing poisoning by arsenic in tubewell water
Chander Kumar Singh , Alexander van Geen
Posted on: 11/03/2013 00:00:00
Topics:   Health , Environment


Millions of tubewells across the Indo-Gangetic plain supply drinking water that is relatively free of microbial contaminants. However, many of these tubewells tap groundwater that is high in arsenic and should be used only for washing. This column explores a new approach to field testing in order to distinguish safe from unsafe wells, and suggests that people are willing to pay for tubewell testing.
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Does mother’s status affect the child’s stature?
Diane Coffey
Posted on: 22/02/2013 00:00:00
Topics:   Gender , Health


Both women’s status and children’s health in South Asia are abysmal. Can a well-defined link be established from women’s status to child health? This column presents results of a study that uses variation in the status of women in joint rural households to show that children born to lower status daughters-in-law are shorter than those born to higher status daughters-in-law, despite there being no apparent difference in pre-marriage characteristics of parents.
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Child stunting and open defecation: How much of the South Asian height “enigma” is a toilet gap?
Dean Spears
Posted on: 18/02/2013 00:00:00
Topics:   Health


Children in India are shorter on average than children in Sub-Saharan Africa, even though Indians are richer on average. What explains this paradox? This column suggests open defecation as a possible explanation, and recommends that policymakers in India should work towards achieving widespread latrine use.
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Infant mortality in times of recession
Sonia Bhalotra
Posted on: 30/01/2013 00:00:00

Can recessions have permanent effects on people’s health in developing countries? This column looks at infant mortality in India and finds that recessions make things worse. The paradox is that this is often because women are working more, which in isolation is something to be welcomed. It calls for a balance to be struck between empowering mothers and protecting the most vulnerable.
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Like parent, like child: Health transmission in developing countries
Sonia Bhalotra
Posted on: 28/01/2013 00:00:00
Topics:   Gender , Health


To what extent is children’s health determined by their mothers’ health? This column analyses three decades’ worth of data on over two million children across 38 developing countries to explore how health is transmitted across generations – and how public policy can respond.
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Eliminating Delhi’s November smog
Ridhima Gupta , E. Somanathan
Posted on: 14/12/2012 00:00:00
Topics:   Environment , Health


Around this time every year, the air in Delhi becomes almost unbearable. As politicians and the press point fingers, this column offers up a happy solution.
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Where have all the young girls gone? The rise in female foeticide in India
Sonia Bhalotra
Posted on: 07/11/2012 00:00:00
Topics:   Gender , Health


Gender inequality remains a huge issue in India and policies aimed at changing this are welcome. But this column finds that an unintended consequence of the introduction and spread of ultrasound scans in India is the abortion of female foetuses on an unprecedented scale.
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The root of poverty: Ruinous healthcare costs
Anirudh Krishna
Posted on: 26/10/2012 00:00:00

While natural disasters and political turmoil rightly grab our attention, this column shows that it is everyday events that drag most people into poverty. For many, the first of these is illness and this column argues that this is where the first battle lines against poverty must be drawn. People need more affordable, accessible, and higher quality healthcare.
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Child malnutrition in India and what can be done about it
Pushkar Maitra , Anu Rammohan
Posted on: 15/10/2012 00:00:00

While many things are getting better in India, the disturbing levels of child malnutrition are hardly changing. This column explores why and asks what can be done. It calls for more conditional cash transfers to poor rural families and better education on how to feed their children.
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Child malnutrition: Why wealth isn’t the only problem
Nisha Malhotra
Posted on: 08/10/2012 00:00:00
Topics:   Education , Health


Why does child malnutrition persist in India? This column argues that the reason is not limited to poverty or inadequate access to food; but that a lack of knowledge about healthy nutrition plays a vital role.
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Multi-dimensional deprivation in India: Comparisons with China and Vietnam
Ranjan Ray
Posted on: 03/08/2012 00:00:00
Topics:   Health


While several studies have compared India with China on economic measures such as GDP per capita, this column looks at a measure of people’s deprivation across a wide range of indicators. It finds India lagging behind in several dimensions, particularly on children’s health.
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A national shame: Hunger and malnutrition in India
Anil Deolalikar
Posted on: 23/07/2012 00:00:00

One area where India’s development falls desperately short is nutrition. Child malnutrition rates are higher in India than in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa. This column argues that there can be no excuses. Policymakers need to better understand the reasons behind this ‘national shame’ and need to start doing something about it.
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