We examine the medium- and long-term impacts of exposure to food inflation during the critical window of early life on child health. We use the Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey data, matching each child's early life months since conception with the corresponding monthly local food price data. We find that exposure to 10% staples food inflation during the first trimester of the fetus increases the risk of childhood stunting by almost 1.9%. We further find that the impacts are non-linear, reflecting the complicated biological mechanisms through which nutrition affects human growth. There is also considerable heterogeneity in the impacts.
Ethiopia has launched a pro-poor health services extension programme since 2003 to deliver preventive and basic curative health services to its inhabitants. Despite the massive support and recognition the programme has received, there has not been proper evaluation of its impact. This study has applied propensity score matching and regression adjustment techniques to evaluate the short-term and intermediate-term impacts of the programme on child and maternal health indicators in the programme villages. Empirical data for the study were collected from 3095 households from both programme and non-programme villages in rural Ethiopia. The estimated results indicate that the programme has significantly increased the proportion of children fully and individually vaccinated against tuberculosis, polio, diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus, and measles. The study finds heterogeneity in childhood immunisation coverage as a result of differences in terms of the number of health extension workers, in the quality of health posts and in terms of the educational achievement of mothers across programme villages. The proportions of children and women using insecticide-treated bednets for malaria protection are significantly larger in programme villages than in non-programme villages. The effect on preventive maternal care is rather limited. Whereas women in the programme villages appeared to make their first contact with a skilled health service provider significantly earlier during pregnancy, very little effect is detected on other prenatal and postnatal care services. Moreover, the programme has not reduced the incidence and duration of diarrhoea and cough diseases among under-five children.