Abstract

Poor health and the inability to access healthcare are key factors both leading to, and resulting from, poverty. Yet, in India and worldwide, rather than combining poverty alleviation and community health interventions in an integrated strategy, approaches are largely unisectoral. Ninety three million members (impacting over 300 million people including households) are engaged in MFIs and SHG -Bank Linkage programs in India. Through a review of integrated approaches in India, the paper argues that leveraging the microfinance and self-help networks represents a pragmatic and sustainable mechanism for reaching a greater proportion of the poor with proven low-cost health interventions. Such integrated approaches can harness and complement existent governmental programs to have a synergistic impact on health and poverty and address multiple Millennium Development Goals focused on poverty, gender equality, empowerment of women, maternal and child health, and combating diseases such as HIV and malaria.