Integrating Microfinance and Health: Benefits, Challenges and Reflections for Moving Forward

Paper presented at the 2011 Global Microcredit Summit, November 14-17, 2011, Valladolid, Spain
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This paper documents experience and evidence to guide microfinance practitioners, policymakers and development organizations interested in the emerging arena of integrated microfinance and health. It presents the variety of options for health related programs and services that are currently offered by microfinance providers around the world.

Research literature and product development indicate that integrating microfinance and health protection services can be a multiple win for microfinance providers, healthcare providers, clients and their families. Findings include:

  • Health education is the most common health service offered by microfinance providers for reasons such as its ease of implementation;
  • Direct delivery of healthcare services by microfinance providers and the linkage of clients to independent care providers is relatively less common;
  • Examples of microfinance providers offering their clients access to health products are sparse.

Microfinance providers can be crucial partners for helping the poor in developing countries cope with health costs to improve the financial stability of households. Integration of microfinance and health programs can affect important aspects of health and well being, such as family planning, preventive services, care of childhood illnesses and management of acute health problems.

About this Publication

By Leatherman, S., Dunford, C., Metcalfe, M. et al