A Conditional Cash Transfer Program in the Philippines Reduces Severe Stunting1–3

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Abstract

Background:

Pantawid, a conditional cash transfer (CCT) program in the Philippines, provided grants conditioned on health-related behaviors for children aged 0–5 y and schooling for those aged 10–14 y.

Objective:

We investigated whether Pantawid improved anthropometric measurements in children aged 6–36 mo.

Methods:

We estimated cross-sectional intention-to-treat effects using a 2011 cluster-randomized trial across 130 villages—65 treated and 65 control—with data collected after 31 mo of implementation. Anthropometry characteristics were measured for 241 children in treated areas and 244 children in control areas. Health service use for children aged 6–36 mo and dietary intake for those aged 6–60 mo also were measured. Outcome variables were height-for-age z scores (HAZs) and weight-for-age z scores (WAZs), stunting, severe stunting, underweight, and severely underweight. Impact also was assessed on perinatal care, institutional delivery, presence of skilled birth attendant, breastfeeding practices, immunization, growth monitoring and deworming, care-seeking, and children's intake of protein-rich foods.

Results:

Pantawid was associated with a significant reduction in severe stunting [<-3 SD from WHO standards for healthy children; β = -10.2 percentage points (95% CI -18.8, -1.6 percentage points); P = 0.020] as well as a marginally significant increase in HAZs [β = 0.284 SDs (95%CI -0.033, 0.602 SDs); P = 0.08]. WAZs, stunting, underweight, and severely underweight status did not change. Concomitantly, several measures of health-seeking behavior increased significantly.

Conclusions:

To our knowledge, Pantawid is one of few CCT programs worldwide that significantly reduced severe stunting in children aged 6–36 mo; changes in key parenting practices, including children's intake of protein-rich foods and care-seeking behavior, were concurrent.

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