A review of control-comparison interventions on girls and health in low and middle income countries

Do we really know how girls are faring in the wake of various health interventions?

The time is right to assess the impact of girl-focused programmes. The explosion of programmes aimed at improving adolescent girls' health in the developing world in recent years has almost certainly been beneficial, but do we really know how girls are faring in the wake of these various interventions? Good intentions are needed, but they do not always result in improved outcomes.

Through a structured, in-depth literature review, this paper on low and middle-income countries sheds light on what we have learned and what we still need to learn. It is one of a series of five Issue Papers commissioned by the Department for International Development UK (DFID) and Girl Hub which synthesise key evidence on integrated approaches to economic assets,  health,  educationsocial norms and preventing violence in improving the lives of adolescent girls.

This paper is accompanied by a mapping study which details the programmes they assessed; including demographics of the participants, the logistics of the programme and the results. 


"Only a minority of interventions showed impact on girls' health status. Fourteen of the 49 studies (covering 12 different interventions) reviewed had a significant effect on girls' health status. The most common outcome affected - regardless of project objective - was a reduction in self-reported pregnancies (six studies, five interventions). The second most common was a reduction in HSV-2, reported in two studies (two interventions). For each of the following seven outcomes there was one study (one intervention) that demonstrated impact: HIV, FGM, GHQ-12, depression, conduct problems, pro-social behavior and PTSD."


Kelly Hallman, Marie Stoner, Michelle Chau, AJ Melnikas for DFID & Girl Hub