Why are health program evaluations important for vulnerable populations?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Health program evaluations are important for vulnerable populations because the evaluations help to make sure that the programs are actually working the way they should be.  This is important for vulnerable populations because these programs are meant to help protect those populations.  If the programs are not working well, the vulnerable populations are most likely to be negatively affected.

Vulnerable populations are those groups of people who are more likely to experience health problems.  These can be specific health problems or more general problems.  An example of a group that is susceptible to a specific health problem is African Americans, who are more vulnerable to sickle cell anemia than other groups.  An example of a group that is vulnerable to all health problems is poor people since they are less likely to get top-quality medical care. 

Vulnerable populations have a special stake in programs that are meant to improve health.  This is because those populations are most likely to need help maintaining their health.  Using our examples from the previous paragraph, African Americans are more likely to need programs aimed at combatting sickle cell anemia while poor people are more likely to need programs aimed at improving their general health.  These groups are the ones who are most affected by the success (or lack thereof) of health programs.

Health program evaluations are processes by which public health officials try to determine if programs are actually doing what they are supposed to do.  If we are to spend money and other resources on particular programs, we want them to work.  More importantly, the people who need those programs want them to work because it is their health that is at stake.  If programs do not work, vulnerable populations are hurt.  If health program evaluations are done properly, they will determine which programs (or which aspects of programs) do and do not work.  Officials can then change programs as needed, making sure that vulnerable populations are helped as much as possible.  This is why health program evaluations are so important  for vulnerable populations.

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