Bringing Open Science to (Deworming) Policy

A brief overview of the results of 20 years of deworming research and how our new deworming open policy analysis can bolster transparent policymaker use of this evidence.

The Center for Effective Global Action
CEGA

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This post was written by CEGA Director of Operations Lauren Russell.

Children receiving deworming treatment in Kisii County, Kenya. (Credit: Stephanie Skinner | Evidence Action)

Today the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences released a powerful study demonstrating that 20 years later children, who received the treatment for 2 to 3 years now have better jobs, higher wages and a higher standard of living, when compared to those who didn’t. Led by Nobel Laureate Michael Kremer (University of Chicago), CEGA Faculty Director Edward Miguel (UC Berkeley), Sarah Baird (George Washington University), Joan Hamory (University of Oklahoma), and Michael Walker (CEGA), this first-of-its-kind longitudinal analysis of a public health intervention shows that the simple act of deworming schoolchildren impacts their lives into adulthood.

Supplementing these results, we have a new innovation to promote policymaker use of this evidence in their decision-making — a deworming open policy analysis that combines the results of our studies over time and real-world implementation, and can be used to inform context-specific financing and programmatic decisions. We believe this is a cutting-edge approach to the translation of rigorous evidence into widespread policy outcomes — and has the potential to positively affect the lives of millions more children in the decades to come. See this post for information on why this new approach is important and this post for how to use the deworming open policy analysis.

This new paper and deworming open policy analysis are built on years of earlier research including the original study and a 10 year follow-up, which influenced policy and global investment in deworming as important to children’s education, and later on for their longer-term well-being. The impact of this research inspired the creation of the Deworm the World Initiative, managed by the NGO Evidence Action, which supports school-based deworming worldwide, and has in turn influenced several countries to instate national school-based deworming programs. In 2019, more than 280 million children in India, Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Pakistan received school-based deworming treatment.

Today, though deworming for at-risk children has substantially increased globally over the past decade, children in many countries continue to suffer from worm infections — and have poorer outcomes as a result. In fact, whole communities suffer from persistent illness, as well as from reduced educational achievement and economic development. In 2020, over 860 million children globally were at risk of parasitic worm infections. At the incredibly low cost of $0.50 per child per treatment, mass school-based deworming has shown to be a cost-effective investment that governments and donors can make to improve children’s livelihoods in the long-term.

We are excited about this research and new open policy analysis because it is a clear use case for how evidence can inform policy to improve lives. Read the two accompanying blog posts on how the policymaking community can use Open Policy Analysis for better deworming policy and how the new OPA can transform deworming policy.

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The Center for Effective Global Action
CEGA
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