Unconditional cash transfers for reducing poverty and vulnerabilities: effect on use of health services and health outcomes in low- and middle-income countries

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Unconditional cash transfer (UCTs) may not impact health services use among children and adults in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). UCTs probably lead to a large, clinically meaningful reduction in the likelihood of having had any illness and to a moderate increase in the likelihood of children of recipient families attending school.  They may also increase the likelihood of having secure access to food, diversity in one’s diet, and money spent on healthcare.

UCTs are a type of social protection intervention that addresses income. It is unknown whether UCTs are more, less or equally as effective as conditional cash transfers. We reviewed the evidence on the effect of UCTs on health service use and health outcomes among children and adults in LMICs. This review included 21 studies with 1,092,877 participants (36,068 children and 1,056,809 adults) and 31,865 households in Africa, the Americas and South-East Asia. The UCTs were government programmes or research experiments. Most studies were funded by national governments and/or international organisations. The evidence on the health effects of UCTs compared with those of conditional cash transfers is uncertain.

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