Integration of Health Education with Microfinance Services

Poverty obviously means more than the lack of funds. It also connotes social exclusion and poor health. Ignoring clients' health issues negate the ultimate poverty alleviation goal of MFIs. It is against this background that LAPO began the implementation of integration programme under which microcredit clients are also provided with basic health information and services during branch council meetings and union visits towards promoting good health and healthy living amongst community members, especially those battling with HIV/AIDS. The Integration programme has helped to improve the health knowledge as well as induced positive behavioral changes amongst microfinance clients.

Highlights

Health Sensitization during Union and Branch Council Meetings

Women constitute over 90% of LAPO MfB’s credit groups. They are low-income, small scale entrepreneurs or petty traders. They are likely to practice self-medication and delay the utilization of services in standard health facilities because of their minimum level of health information and literacy. These clients meet weekly for loan repayment while their leaders converge quarterly for Branch Council Meetings. LAPO seizes this opportunity to provide sensitization services covering malaria, blood sugar, blood pressure, breast and cervical cancers, hepatitis, maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS, Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV/AIDS and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). This has increased knowledge of target beneficiaries with positive consequence on their preventive health behaviour such as hand washing, uptake of antenatal care and child immunization, timely management of acute health problems like HIV, diarrhea and respiratory infections, blood pressure and blood sugar, and prevention of terminal diseases like AIDS and cancer.

Health Screening Services

The earlier a health-care provider is able to diagnose a health condition, the better the likelihood of a successful treatment. Early detection of many health conditions and diseases can be life-saving. In recognition of this fact, LAPO promotes preventive care practices amongst clients through free health counselling, screening and referral services towards promoting preventive health care practices.

Training of Microfinance Clients as Health Agents

LAPO trains and deploys selected microfinance clients as health agents. This ensures the continuous provision of basic health information to community members for the development of appropriate health-seeking behaviour. The strategy has been linked with increased health knowledge and adoption of healthy living practices such as uptake of antenatal and child care services including the adoption of appropriate breastfeeding practices amongst members of our target groups and communities.