Abstract

Freedom from Hunger and five microfinance institutions (MFIs) from Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, India, and the Philippines tested whether MFIs could sustainably offer health-related services with positive health and social impacts for client. The health services ranged from education, health-financing (loans, savings and microinsurance), to linkages to health providers and health products.
Impact research included client interviews; focus-group discussions; a randomised controlled trial; and cost-benefit analyses at the institutional level. Positive benefits were detected at the client and household levels, including improved health knowledge andbehaviours, and in access to health services and products. These findings support the idea that MFIs offer large and growing distribution networks that can provide an integrated set of services to improve both health and financial security of poor families.