Multi-purpose cash transfers and health among vulnerable Syrian refugees in Jordan: A prospective cohort study

Cash assistance has rapidly expanded in the Syrian refugee response in Jordan and global humanitarian programming, yet little is known about the effect of multipurpose cash transfers (MPC) on health in humanitarian contexts. A prospective cohort study was conducted from May 2018 through July 2019 to evaluate the effectiveness of MPC in improving access to healthcare and health expenditures by Syrian refugees in Jordan. Households receiving MPCs (US$113–219 monthly) were compared to control households not receiving MPCs using difference-in-difference analyses.

The impacts of MPC on health were varied and significant differences were observed for few outcomes. MPC significantly improved care-seeking for child illness, reduced hospitalizations for adult acute illness, and lowered rates of borrowing to pay for health expenditures. No significant improvements in chronic health condition indicators or shifts in sector of care-seeking were associated with MPC. While MPC should not be considered as a stand-alone health intervention, findings may be positive for humanitarian response financing given the potential for investment in MPC to translate to health sector response savings.