Published: September 2020
- Give effectively
- Cost to save a life
- Medicine to prevent malaria
- Nets to prevent malaria
- Supplements to prevent vitamin A deficiency
- Treatments for parasitic worm infections (deworming)
- Cash transfers for extreme poverty
GiveWell has 15 full-time research staff. The names and roles of research staff can be found here.
Each research staff member contributes about 2,000 hours per year (46 weeks at 40 hours per week). We assume that one-quarter of their time is spent on non-research work, such as staff meetings. We thus roughly estimate that they collectively conduct more than 20,000 hours of research per year (15 staff multiplied by 2,000 hours per year multiplied by 75% of time on research).
Cost to save a life
Our estimate of the cost to save a life is based on our cost-effectiveness model.
You can read more about our approach to estimating cost-effectiveness and its role in our decisions about what to fund and recommend to donors here. Explicit cost-effectiveness estimates are a major, but not the only, input into our decision-making process. More on the principles we use in decision-making here.
We present cost-effectiveness estimates as a range rounded to the nearest thousand dollars on our Top Charities page. This reflects the degree of precision we believe our model can estimate, as well as the range of cost-effectiveness that charities are likely to achieve across the countries they work in. Charities' cost-effectiveness can vary widely by geography, depending on the underlying burden of disease and the costs of operating in a given country.
Medicine to prevent malaria
Impact of malaria
Estimates of annual malaria deaths vary from about 400,000 to 620,000.1 At least 83% of the malaria deaths reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) for 2018 were in sub-Saharan Africa, and children under five years old accounted for about two-thirds of malaria deaths globally.2
Presuming the proportion of children dying from malaria is approximately constant across countries, then at least 56% of total malaria deaths were children under 5 years old in sub-Saharan Africa (83% of total malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa multiplied by 67% of total malaria deaths occurring in children under five).
Cost of providing medicine to prevent malaria
We estimate that seasonal malaria chemoprevention delivered by Malaria Consortium costs $6.80 per child.
Nets to prevent malaria
Cost of providing nets
We estimate that nets delivered by Against Malaria Foundation cost $4.59 each.
Supplements to prevent vitamin A deficiency
Impact of vitamin A deficiency
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation's Global Burden of Disease project estimates that vitamin A deficiency increases the risk of diarrhea, measles, and lower respiratory tract infections.3 In 2017, an estimated 233,000 global deaths were linked to this increased risk.4
Cost of providing vitamin A supplementation
We estimated that vitamin A supplementation delivered by Helen Keller International costs $1.23 per child.
Treatments for parasitic worm infections (deworming)
Impact of parasitic worms
Many types of parasitic worms infect human beings, causing illnesses including schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiasis. Hundreds of millions of people have these infections.5
Cost of deworming
The median cost per person dewormed per year by our four deworming top charities as of 2019 is $0.81; thus, $100 would cover deworming efforts for approximately 120 children.
Impact of deworming
Some studies indicate that reducing worm infection loads during childhood can have a significant later impact on income during adulthood. There is a possibility that deworming children has a subtle, lasting impact on their development and thus on their ability to be productive and successful throughout life. However, there is less research on the developmental impacts of deworming than on the interventions of our other top charities, so we are more uncertain about it. Our estimate of the impact of deworming—a cumulative $600 in additional earnings over the course of 100 children's lives—accounts for this uncertainty.
Income of those receiving deworming treatment
Our four top deworming charities work in the following countries: India, Kenya, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Tanzania, Côte d'Ivoire, Zambia, Liberia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Cameroon, Angola, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe.6 According to the World Bank's PovcalNet data, the median per capita consumption per year across the geographic areas supported by our four top deworming charities is $649.
Cash transfers for extreme poverty
According to Our World in Data’s analysis of the World Bank’s PovcalNet data, about 65% of the world’s population in 2015 had per capita consumption less than $10 per day (or $3,650 per year).7
Efficiency of GiveDirectly
Cash grants make up 83% of GiveDirectly’s all-time expenses.
The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) project estimates more than 619,000 global deaths from malaria in 2017, the most recent year for which data is available. “Measure: Deaths, 2017 number: 619,826.63.” Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Global Burden of Disease, GBD Compare, Global malaria deaths. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates approximately 405,000 malaria deaths in 2018. “In 2018, there were an estimated 405 000 deaths from malaria globally, compared with 416 000 estimated deaths in 2017, and 585 000 in 2010.” WHO, World Malaria Report 2019, Pg xii.
WHO, World Malaria Report 2019, Pg 10, Figure 2.6. “Children aged under 5 years are the most vulnerable group affected by malaria. In 2018, they accounted for 67% (272 000) of all malaria deaths worldwide.” WHO, World Malaria Report 2019, Pg xii.
"In its Global Burden of Disease (GBD), IHME models VAD [vitamin A deficiency] as both a direct cause of years lived with disability (YLDs) and as a risk factor for three other diseases (diarrheal diseases, lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs), and measles)." GiveWell's non-verbatim summary of a conversation with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, April 5, 2019
“Measure: Deaths, 2017 number: 232,776.74.” Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Global Burden of Disease, GBD Compare, Global vitamin A deficiency deaths, under 5 years.,
According to the Global Burden of Disease (GBD), global prevalence of cases of intestinal worms in 2017 is as follows: schistosomiasis, 142.8 million (Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Global Burden of Disease, GBD Compare, Global schistosomiasis prevalence); hookworm disease, 229.2 million (Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Global Burden of Disease, GBD Compare, Global hookworm disease prevalence); trichuriasis, 289.6 million (Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Global Burden of Disease, GBD Compare, Global trichuriasis prevalence); and ascariasis, 447.0 million (Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Global Burden of Disease, GBD Compare, Global ascariasis prevalence).
See the locations listed in row 1 of the "Deworm the World", "SCI Foundation", "END Fund", and "Sightsavers" sheets in the 2020 GiveWell cost-effectiveness analysis — version 1.
“35.26% above $10/day, 2015.” Rosen and Ortiz-Ospina, 2019, Distribution of population between different poverty thresholds, World, 1981 to 2015.