NOVAFRICA Seminar: Real-life effects of health interventions in Guinea-Bissau

On Wendnesday, September 7th, at 02.30pm (Lisbon time), on Room B 134 the NOVAFRICA Center welcomes Ane Fisker from University of Southern Denmark to present her work on “Real-life effects of health interventions in Guinea-Bissau”.

Ane Fisker

To reduce maternal and child mortality, health interventions are being rolled out and scaled-up across low-income countries. These health interventions are prioritised and promoted based on assumptions about health effects, rather than on real-life data. Since the interventions are assumed to be beneficial, an increase in service coverage is commonly equated to improved health. In Guinea-Bissau, a small west-African country which has some of the world’s highest mortality and poverty rates, Bandim Health Project implements a health and demographic surveillance system (HDSS). Though the HDSS health, survival and uptake of health interventions is monitored in a nationally representative cohort. Based on these data, we assess the real-life effects of health interventions that aim to improve child health. We have demonstrated that the assumptions are frequently wrong. We have found that while some health interventions carry additional benefits and reduce child mortality far more than what was anticipated, other health interventions have no or even negative effects on health. Thus, monitoring coverage of health services is insufficient. To ensure that implemented (and assumed beneficial) health interventions always reduce mortality and improve health, continuous monitoring of health effects is essential. By systematically evaluating the real-life effects of health interventions, we gain better tools to prioritise between interventions, ensure that the knowledge to improve health programmes is generated and that the risk of spending scarce resources wrongly is minimised.

Find more about this seminar here.