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Conditional cash transfers and the creation of equal opportunities of health for children in low and middle-income countries: a literature review.

Int J Equity Health; 16(1): 161, 2017 Aug 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-28859650

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs) have been largely used in the world during the past decades, since they are known for enhancing children's human development and promoting social inclusion for the most deprived groups. In other words, CCTs seek to create life chances for children to overcome poverty and exclusion, thus reducing inequality of opportunity. The main goal of the present article is to identify studies capable of showing if CCTs create equality of opportunity in health for children in low and middle-income countries. METHODOLOGY: Comprehensive literature searches were conducted in the Academic Search Complete (EBSCO), PubMed/Medline, Scopus and Web of Science electronic bibliographic databases. Relevant studies were searched using the combination of key words (either based on Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) terms or free text terms) related to conditional cash transfers, child health and equality of opportunity. An integrative research review was conducted on 17 quantitative studies. RESULTS: The effects of CCTs on children's health outcomes related to Social Health Determinants were mostly positive for immunization rates or vaccination coverage and for improvements in child morbidity. Nevertheless, the effects of CCTs were mixed for the child mortality indicators and biochemical or biometric health outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: The present literature review identified five CCTs that provided evidence regarding the creation of health opportunities for children under 5 years old. Nevertheless, cash transfers alone or the use of conditions may not be able to mitigate poverty and health inequalities in the presence of poor health services.