Health is one of the key constraints on everyday life and a primary cause of microfinance clients’ inability to repay loans and the catastrophic failure of their business. Combining basic health services with financial services can help clients build resilience. For health providers, MFIs offer a built-in delivery system that brings together hundreds of thousands, and sometimes millions, of clients every week.
In India, the Microcredit Summit Campaign is partnering with Freedom from Hunger as the leaders of the Health and Microfinance Alliance to promote the dissemination and implementation of integrated health and microfinance. As of January 2014, the Alliance has partnered with 38 MFIs and self-help promoting institutions (SHPIs, which are Indian NGOs that support self-help groups) to reach 709,167 clients (mostly women) to provide them and their families with health-related knowledge and healthcare.
John Alex, head of social initiatives for Equitas, commented, “We have reached 1.5 million in the [health] screening [in the past 6 years], so every client that joins us is assured of a health check-up. That’s a promise I want to make; we have committed to that. What we believe at Equitas is, if you can’t scale up, don’t do it. You have a plan; if it’s not scalable, don’t pilot it at all…No tokenism.” 
Equitas, in partnership with Apollo Hospitals, is also investing in telemedicine, which can bring quality healthcare facilities for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases to underserved rural and urban slums for one-tenth the cost of visiting a hospital in India—or even less.
An interview with John Alex, Head of Social Initiatives at Equitas. Download a transcript of the video [PDF].
 “Elements of Successful Financial Services and Health Partnerships,” workshop, Partnerships against Poverty Summit, Manila, Philippines
Photo credit: © Karl Grobl for Freedom from Hunger
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Table of Contents
- Executive Summary
- Taking Steps to Target the Poorest
- A Global Context for Extreme Poverty
- Microfinance & Health Providers Can Partner for Greater Results
- Commercial & Social Businesses Can Expand Value Chains to Include Those in Poverty
- Mobile Network Operators Can Build Systems that Reach the Poorest and Most Remote
- Regulators & Policymakers Can Build a National Ecosystem for Inclusion
- Social Support Payments Can Become a Bridge to Financial Inclusion
- Being Accountable for Results
- A Commitment to End Extreme Poverty by 2030
- Read the Full Report
- Get Your Copy
– John Alex, Equitas