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We are working to save lives and protect livelihoods within poor and vulnerable communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

How we responded to COVID-19

Our objective is to save lives and protect livelihoods within poor and vulnerable communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are advising on evidence-based approaches specific to each region’s capabilities and needs. This page describes our present and past COVID-19 work and provides resources, which we hope will help others in their efforts.

Demand-driven partnerships


South Africa
IDinsight worked with to design and test several behaviorally-informed messages to increase users’ honest reporting of their COVID-19 symptoms. IDinsight conducted a randomized control trial via the digital platform HealthCheck, which was developed in partnership by the National Department of Health (NDOH) and in South Africa.

The digital RCT was conducted with 19,689 unique HealthCheck users on university campuses in March-April 2022. The results showed that being in any treatment group receiving an honesty nudge increased the number of days per week users avoided campus. Users who received an appeal to their honor and morality (“moral appeal”) saw the biggest impact, which meant they avoided campus 1 extra day per semester compared with those in the control group. While these effects were not large on an individual level, the results indicate that honesty nudges for reporting COVID-19 symptoms can support population health when considered at scale.


Department of Health Partnership – Health Promotion and Literacy Longitudinal Study

The Philippine Department of Health (DOH) Bureau of Health Promotion (HPB) onboarded IDinsight as their research and capacity-building partner for a 5-year National Health Promotion and Literacy Longitudinal Study (HPLS). The mixed-methods study will involve gathering data on knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) of a nationally representative panel to inform DOH’s Health Promotion Framework Strategy and achieve goals under the Universal Healthcare Act. Data will be collected on seven (7) priority areas related to preventative health, namely: diet and physical activity, environmental health, immunization, substance use, mental health, sexual and reproductive health, and violence and injury prevention. Included in these priority areas will be an investigation of COVID-19 vaccination behaviors.

The data and evidence IDinsight will gather through this study can help DOH at the national and subnational levels to develop more impactful policies and programs for improving health promotion, prevention, and literacy among Filipinos. We will also conduct capacity-building activities to enable  LGUs to appreciate and learn best practices of rigorous data collection for evidence-based decision-making, policy-making and programming for local health outcomes.

Past partnerships


We conducted health facility surveys in rural areas to inform COVID-related health commodities and the use of manless drone delivery. We also advised on evidence-based approaches to remote education including radio learning, interactive television instruction, and online learning via web-based instruction for the Ministry of Education.

We supported targeted economic response efforts for high-need populations by identifying the highest-risk areas for COVID-19 infections and deaths. In addition, we advised the government to reroute existing cash transfer and social protection programs to reach populations made more vulnerable by COVID-19. We worked with our counterparts at the Ministry of Social Welfare.

South Africa
In collaboration with the National Development Agency (NDA), we created a policy brief on promoting healthy behaviors and social protection to vulnerable populations. The brief was shared with the Department of Social Development to inform decision-making on COVID-19 response efforts.


Using our Data on Demand platform, we conducted rapid and responsive phone surveys to inform the Government of India on COVID-19 knowledge, behavior change, and economic effects. We collected data from 37 high-need districts across eight states in India, which represent 80 million of India’s poorest residents. These results were used to inform policy decisions of key government officials on economic relief and national behavior change communication strategies.


In 2020, we performed several rapid studies in partnership with local and national governments that informed health and socioeconomic crisis responses. These included a rapid evidence review that informed the  Department of Health’s (DOH) immediate social distancing efforts in March 2020, rapid phone surveys with the DOH, UNICEF and the Parañaque City Health Office that informed DOH’s COVID-19 Task Force’s socioeconomic and health education response, and a process evaluation of a UNDP-led digital economic relief disbursement program.

From 2021-22, IDinsight engaged the DOH’s Health Promotion Bureau in a learning partnership focused on increasing COVID-19 vaccine uptake. This learning partnership uncovered the critical role that barangay (community) health workers play in informing and encouraging vaccine uptake and identified strategies for increasing their effectiveness. This included a feasibility study on the approach of utilizing an existing chatbot for efficiently dispersing the latest vaccine information.