In cooperation with the Mali Health Organizing Project (MHOP), Anja Sautmann, Assistant Professor of Economics, plans to evaluate the effects of offering free care to children under 5 years on health outcomes and health care utilization in this new project in Mali. She and colleagues evaluate the use of community health care workers that visit families regularly, measure children's health data, record danger signs, and provide advice and help with health related questions and problems. The team aims to study how these two interventions affect health care use, disease prevalence, and health outcomes of children separately and in combination. The project ties in with the current debate on the tension between providing affordable (free) care versus recovering the costs of health care in developing countries. They want to study in particular if free health care can lead to overuse or misuse, or, on the contrary, if it actually may reduce cost due to more efficient use (e.g. preventive vs. curative use). They will also pursue two smaller studies. One project investigates the factors which determine how long a family waits from disease onset to visit a health care facility and how this affects effective treatment, and the other studies the interaction of patients and doctors and the transmission of information in these interactions, before a background of potentially conflicting (financial and health related) interests.
In this first visit to the study area and MHOP, Sautmann met with MHOP staff, important decision makers in the community and researchers at the University of Mali; accompanied health workers during their visits; and met with clinic staff and doctors to discuss their project and explore available data and possibilities for data collection.
This project has received generous support from the Aga Khan Foundation.