We are pleased to bring you this #ThursdayThrowback blog post, which was originally published in The State of the Microcredit Summit Campaign Report 2011.
Microfinance as a Platform for Health Education
>>Authored by D.S.K. Rao, Regional Director; and Anna Awimbo<img class="size-thumbnail wp-image-4303" src="https://mcsummit.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/momf.jpg?w=150" alt="April is the Month of Microfinance
Learn more” width=”150″ height=”150″ /> April is the Month of Microfinance
The Microcredit Summit Campaign launched its Financing Healthier Lives Project in 2002. The project aims to build a global group of microfinance institutions capable of providing health education trainings to their clients in a sustainable manner and reach over half a million clients affecting some 2.5 million family members.
In March 2009, the Campaign released an updated version of its report outlining how microfinance can be used as a platform for health education. This strategy has proven effective at enhancing clients’ movement out of poverty, especially in situations where microfinance alone is insufficient. The document, titled Financing Healthier Lives, makes the case for a global expansion in the use of microfinance as a platform for health education and other health services.
Much of the initial work on this project has been centered in South India where The Campaign has trained in-country trainers and partnered with four organizations to reach more than 30,000 microfinance clients with health education. The four organizations are Star Microfin Service Society (SMSS), People’s Multipurpose Development Society (PMD), Pioneer Trad and McLevy Institute of Development Services (MIDS). SMSS is an MFI operating in Andhra Pradesh, whereas the remaining three are NGOs based in Tamil Nadu. The clients have received education in the following six topics in their local language 1) HIV and AIDS prevention; 2) Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI); 3) Women’s Health; 4) Infant and Child Feeding; 5) Healthy Habits and Planning for Better Health and Using Health Care Services; and 6) Malaria Prevention and Treatment.
In early 2010, the Campaign expanded its work to North India, where it is working with CASHPOR Microfinance to implement a pilot project covering 9,000 clients with education in IMCI and Women’s Health. Encouraged by the extremely positive feedback from its field workers and clients, CASHPOR is planning to triple its outreach to 30,000 clients.
The following graphs illustrate the Campaign’s findings from the work in India and demonstrate that important client-level outcomes are achieved when MFIs integrate health education. For example, data showed improved knowledge of malaria and HIV and AIDS as well as positive behavior change to mitigate the risks associated with these illnesses. Similar positive results were shown with respect to pre- and post-natal medical check-ups of pregnant women. Clients have also shown improved confidence in preparing for future health expenses .
Knowledge about HIV
Knowledge about critical danger signs in children
A team of UCLA Executive MBA students recently evaluated this project and published a 2010 report that recommended expansion of the initiative because of its benefits to clients and the partner institutions. The report also underscored the need to deepen its work on measuring knowledge gains and behavioral changes in clients and their families. The Campaign has begun laying the groundwork for a more in-depth study of these changes and hopes the additional data will go a long way in convincing many more MFIs worldwide to introduce and scale up health integration.
Source: Financing Healthier Lives, Microcredit Summit Campaign, 2009.
 The project’s independent third-party evaluators randomly surveyed 400 members from all project participants across all four organizations. The selected members were given a questionnaire prior to and at the conclusion of both the HIV and AIDS and IMCI education modules. Incomplete or illegible surveys were excluded from the final tally.