College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Agricultural & Resource Economics

Dr. Kenneth Leonard - Improving health care in developing countries

Global Good – a joint effort with Bill Gates and Intellectual Ventures – invited a team from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to discuss potential collaboration on primary health care in developing countries. The resulting session, “The Future of Frontline Primary Health Care,” was a five-hour program attended by Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, Maurizio Vecchione, Ali Arjomand, and Nathan Myhvold, as well as other participants from the BMGF.  AREC Professor Kenneth Leonard was invited to the session to present his work on understanding the behavior of patients and health care providers in the developing world. 

Ken Leonard and Bill Gates

Referencing research he has published in two recent papers – “Active Patients' in Rural African Health Care: Implications for Research and Policy” and “Health Worker Performance” – Leonard explained to the audience how households can switch from being active searchers and consumers of high quality care when faced with illness, to passive consumers of information when it comes to preventive care.  In addition, he discussed the significant evidence of a know-do gap among health care providers, a phenomenon where health workers are fully trained and equipped to provide high quality medicine but choose not to apply this knowledge in practice. The workshop then focused on how best to use technology and psychology to close these two gaps: the intention-action gap of informed households that do not use preventive care, and the knowledge-action gap of health workers who choose not to use all the skills and training available to them. 

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