It seems intuitive that healthy kids means fewer days home from school, but in the third world, the differences are astronomical.
In places where intestinal worms are endemic, simply deworming children increases school attendance more than providing extra school teachers, meals, uniforms and scholarships combined. Times four.
What I am trying to say is that every hundred dollars spent on deworming children equals out to almost 30 additional years of schooling. Giving free school meals adds less than three.
This data is an amazing example of how science works best when it is interdisciplinary. Not only does it illustrate how far-reaching the benefits of global health initiatives can be, and how important it is to have programs such as Deworm the World, it shows how important it is for scientific disciplines to borrow from one another.
In her TED talk earlier this year, MIT Economist Esther Duflo showed the deworming statistics as an example of how economics can use the same kind of randomized trials used to medical research. Rather than dumping aid money into programs that seem like they should work, randomized trials can be used to test what kind of programs actually work.
Should you give people mosquito nets for free, or will people value them more if they have to pay for them? You should give them for free. What’s the most cost-effective way to get children immunized? Provide accessible clinics and a small incentive. Rather than guessing, Duflo uses randomized trials to test and know.
Less malaria, less preventible disease, fewer worms, more school. Scientific synergy at it’s finest.