Health care at the margin: the case of Tanzania

This week’s Economist reports the results of pilot projects in two rural areas of Tanzania where health aid dollars were allocated, and treatment and intervention strategies developed on the basis of what health problems facing the people in the districts.

Treatment and prevention strategies started with low cost methods with great returns, such as insectide soaked bed nets to prevent bites by maleria carrying mosquitos, and electrolyte-rich rehydrating solutions for small children with diahrreha.

The methods appear to have improved the health of the people in the trial areas. More kids are surviving early childhood, and people are losing less time to maleria. The latter has improved the standard of living since not only do people striken with maleria not work, their families can’t work either since they are caring for their ill relatives.

Over at Electrolite, they’re discussing how it would take 80 cents per US Citizen per Year to prevent the deaths of 2.5 million children worldwide from waterborne illness. In the Tanzania study, the improvements to health care cost around an additional 80 cents per person served. So if you have the 80 cents, there’s some folks in Tanzania who know how to spend it effectively.