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Freedom from Hunger, the Microcredit Summit Campaign, and the Indian Institute of Public Health, Gandhinagar published a new report titled “Integrated Health and Microfinance in India, Volume II: The Way Forward.” The report was released in advance of the South Asia Conference on Policies and Practices to Improve Nutrition Security in New Delhi, India this week.
The report is part of an ongoing effort by the Health and Microfinance Alliance (led by the Microcredit Summit Campaign and Freedom from Hunger) to promote dialogue and encourage further exploration of and support for multi-sectorial approaches that integrate microfinance and health. The report highlights the policy measures in the Indian microfinance sector since 2011, documents best practices towards integrating health and microfinance, and proposes an agenda for moving forward:
- Public health systems and institutions should take a proactive role to strengthen community participation leading to the sustainability of health programs.
- Financial service providers should establish linkages with India’s National Rural Health Management (NRHM) to improve access to health care.
- Championing a research agenda looking at the impact and large scale effectiveness to better understand the factors that affect the work of MFIs and SHGs on health knowledge and behavior with active support from Indian public health policy planners.
Professor M.S. Swaminathan, the “Indian Father of the Green Revolution” and chair of the Coalition for Food and National Security, joined the authors in a discussion of the report. He made the following insightful remarks:
India, despite the many programs and efforts, is stagnating at the 131st position on the global hunger index and is experiencing a similar lack of upward progress on the Human Development Index…What is needed is greater synergy across programs such as agriculture, nutrition, health, and microfinance.
You can read a great summary of the report in an article published by NextBillion called “Two Sides of the Same Coin.” In this article, Sabina Rogers and Fred Stuart of the Microcredit Summit Campaign highlight our partnership in India with Freedom from Hunger through the Health and Microfinance Alliance in which we are working with and supporting the efforts of microfinance institutions and the health sector to provide a dual impact for clients and alleviate poverty in India. Our article on NextBillion, by detailing key points in the report, shows the direct role that combining microfinance and health can play in assisting those living in extreme poverty become more resilient.
As the report lays out, increasing numbers of financial service providers to the poor are tackling health challenges head-on—including microfinance institutions (MFIs) and NGOs that support self-help groups (SHGs), often called self-help promoting institutions (SHPIs). Many are adding health-related products and services to their regular financial services programs—targeting women clients especially—to help their clients build resilience and see a population-wide impact.
The Campaign and Freedom from Hunger will co-host a day-long, interactive workshop at the 17th Microcredit Summit on September 6th in Merida, Mexico. This session, “Collaborating for Health: Linking and integrating health and financial services” will dig into this concept of microfinance+health by identifing concrete opportunities for collaboration to deliver break-through health services across the globe.