Financial Inclusion is a Start; How about Health Inclusion?

In much of the developing world, where people are one illness away from losing everything, better provision of sanitation, clean water, other basic health services and health education would make the greatest difference to health outcomes. In the absence of A health education session in action (India)more systemic, government-led provision in countries such as India, a number of MFIs have been building on their existing infrastructure through which they offer financial services to provide low-cost health protection services. With the purpose of presenting integrated health and microfinance as a powerful tool against poverty on the global stage, Freedom from Hunger and the Microcredit Summit Campaign have forged the Health and Microfinance Alliance (the Alliance), with India as a demonstration of what can be achieved and with a shared goal of reaching 3.5 million of the India’s poorest households in the next 3 years.

In his recent Huffington Post article “‘Doctor Mom’: Leveraging Local Capacity to Meet the MDGs”, Steve Hollingworth, President of Freedom from Hunger, echoes sentiments expressed on our blog by Marcia Metcalf from Freedom from Hunger and the Alliance, where she writes that the potential for local MFIs in India to scale up integrated health and microfinance is tremendous. Focusing on the concrete example of Nandini Nath from Sanoanko (Orissa, India), Hollingworth highlights real benefits of leveraging local capacity to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 and calls for a more comprehensive and cohesive approach to health services, as introduced during his speech at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting and as highlighted by the report titled Integrated Health and Microfinance in India: Harnessing the Strengths of Two Sectors to Improve Health and Alleviate Poverty, published by the Alliance in June 2012. The Alliance believes that by helping the most vulnerable population address the root causes of their poverty through an integrated approach to microfinance, we will achieve better outcomes for clients and their families.

Learn more about the Alliance >>

‘Doctor Mom’: Leveraging Local Capacity to Meet the MDGs

Posted on September 27

In global development, we talk about impact and scale in aggregate terms, but it’s also important to retain a focus on those that we serve as individuals. This keeps us grounded, focused and inspired. It reminds us of why we do what we do.

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4 thoughts on “Financial Inclusion is a Start; How about Health Inclusion?

  1. Pingback: What about Non-Financial Services? (reblogged from Truelift) | 100 Million Ideas

  2. What a fantastic initiative currently based in India. Having skimmed the Leatherman article, it’s happening to varying extents, in many other countries. This is valuable information for grassroots advocacy groups who aim to influence their governments’ aid and development programs to better target and increase funds for tackling the basic needs that will allow people to grow themselves out of poverty.

  3. There is international evidence for this welcome development in India.

    A 2010 report by the World Health Organisation “Protecting Health: Thinking Small” (WHO Bulletin 2010:88:713-715, at, demonstrated the value of linking microfinance lending with a package including health-care subsidies, training and interventions for social inclusion.

    A further February 2011 study by Leatherman et al in Health Policy and Planning Journal titled “Integrating microfinance and health strategies: examining the evidence to inform policy and practice: (since cross referenced at concluded that ‘worldwide, current public health progams and health systems are proving to be inadequate to meet populations needs. The microfinance sector offers an underutilised opportunity for delivery of health-related services to hard-to reach populations”.

    • Thank you for sharing the WHO report and Sheila Leathman’s study, Peter. We also commissioned a paper by Sheila Leatherman for our Summit last year called, “Why Integrating Microfinance, Health Education, and Other Forms of Health Protection is Good for Your Clients and Good for Your MFI, and How Can You Incorporate It?” You can download it here.
      Here’s the abstract:

      This paper surveys the range of experience of microfinance providers of all types and geographies, as well as the available evidence of impacts for clients, families, and communities and the cost and benefits to the microfinance providers who offer health protection options. Lessons for practice and ideas for experimentation and research are offered with the full expectation that integration of microfinance and health protection will become increasingly common in poverty alleviation programs.

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