Designing and piloting a scalable health program for schools in India

Colloquium | November 13 | 4-5:30 p.m. | 2515 Tolman Hall

 David I. Levine, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley

 Graduate School of Education

Handwashing with soap, treating drinking water, and safe sanitation could prevent over a million children from dying each year.  Standard health interventions provide supplies and information, but usually lead to only modest behavior change.

We have created and spent 3 years piloting a curriculum of vivid activities, engaging stories and simple routines to teach, change norms, and increase handwashing with soap ().  Our intervention targets students, teachers, and principals.  It teaches new behaviors and routines, changes attitudes, and has lo solutions (soapy bottles) that cost only 20% as much as bars of soap.  We also work closely with the state school system to modify monitoring protocols to provide scalable incentives for the new behaviors.

We have trained a handful of official trainers in Chennai, India, to train teachers in our curriculum and intervention.  About 40% of the first 100 classrooms are washing hands with soap before lunch (compared to zero when we started).  In our next round of pilots (Sept.-Dec. 2017) we expect to get that rate to 80% with improved supply chain and monitoring.

This talk will outline the lessons learned and challenges remaining in scaling a health curriculum in schools in a low-income setting.

About the speaker: David I. Levine is the Eugene E. and Catherine M. Trefethen Professor of Business Administration at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.  He is past chair of the University’s Center for Health Research, of the Advisory Board for Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA), and of the Haas School’s Economic Analysis and Policy Group.

Dr. Levine’s research focuses on understanding and overcoming barriers to improving health in poor nations.  This research has examined both how to increase demand for health-promoting goods such as safer cookstoves and water filters, and how to change health-related behaviors such as handwashing with soap.

Levine was an undergraduate at Berkeley, and has taught at the Haas School since receiving his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University in 1987. Levine has also had visiting positions at the Sloan School of Management at MIT, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the President’s Council of Economic Advisers.