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Does Local Democracy Improve Public Health Interventions? Evidence from India

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Joan Costa-Font, Divya Parmar

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)799-825
Issue number3
Published18 May 2021

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Publisher Copyright: © 2021 The Authors. Governance published by Wiley Periodicals LLC. Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

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  • King's Centre for Global Health & Health Partnerships


Health care decisions in many low-income countries often require a close political agency relationship between healthcare decision makers and constituents. This is especially the case for maternal and child care as well as preventative interventions when resources are scarce. This article examines the effect of the introduction of the National Rural Health Mission in India, introducing Village Health, Sanitation and Nutrition Committees (VHSNC), a self-governance mechanism to strengthen the political agency in village health care decision making. We study the effect of exposure to VHSNC on both maternal and preventative child health care. We find that exposure to VHSNC's increase the utilization of several maternal health care services, but does not systematically increase the uptake of preventive health care. The effect of VHSNC is more intense in larger villages and areas closer to district headquarters, and is driven by an increase in the utilization of the public healthcare network.

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