The Quality of Medical Advice in Low-Income Countries
This paper documents the quality of medical advice in low-income countries. Our evidence on health care quality in low-income countries is drawn primarily from studies in four countries: Tanzania, India, Indonesia, and Paraguay. We provide an overview of recent work that uses two broad approaches: medical vignettes (in which medical providers are presented with hypothetical cases and their responses are compared to a checklist of essential procedures) and direct observation of the doctor-patient interaction These two approaches have proved quite informative. For example, doctors in Tanzania complete less than a quarter of the essential checklist for patients with classic symptoms of malaria, a disease that kills 63,000-96,000 Tanzanians each year. A public-sector doctor in India asks one (and only one) question in the average interaction: "What's wrong with you?" We present systematic evidence in this paper to show that these isolated facts represent common patterns. We find that the quality of care in low-income countries as measured by what doctors know is very low, and that the problem of low competence is compounded due to low effort -- doctors provide lower standards of care for their patients than they know how to provide. We discuss how the properties and correlates of measures based on vignettes and observation may be used to evaluate policy changes. Finally, we outline the agenda in terms of further research and measurement.
Volume (Year): 22 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 (Spring)
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Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Das, Jishnu & Hammer, Jeffrey, 2007.
"Money for nothing: The dire straits of medical practice in Delhi, India,"
Journal of Development Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 1-36, May.
- Das, Jishnu & Hammer, Jeffrey, 2005. "Money for nothing : the dire straits of medical practice in Delhi, India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3669, The World Bank.
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- Björkman, Martina & Reinikka, Ritva & Svensson, Jakob, 2006. "Local Accountability," Seminar Papers 749, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
- Kenneth L. Leonard & Melkiory C. Masatu & Alexandre Vialou, 2007. "Getting Doctors to Do Their Best: The Roles of Ability and Motivation in Health Care Quality," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(3).
- Leonard, Kenneth L., 2002. "When both states and markets fail: asymmetric information and the role of NGOs in African health care," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 61-80, July.
- Leonard, Kenneth & Masatu, Melkiory C., 2006. "Outpatient process quality evaluation and the Hawthorne Effect," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(9), pages 2330-2340, November.
- Nazmul Chaudhury & Jeffrey Hammer & Michael Kremer & Karthik Muralidharan & F. Halsey Rogers, 2006. "Missing in Action: Teacher and Health Worker Absence in Developing Countries," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 91-116, Winter.
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