Medical Xpress - "Microfinance Institutions Are Found Effective In Giving Health Products To Underserved Communities"

New York, NY
 – November 6, 2017  –– 

Microfinance institutions are popularly known for providing small loans to low-income entrepreneurs lacking access to traditional banking services. However, new research from The Arnhold Institute for Global Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, suggests that the capabilities of microfinance networks expand well beyond banking, and that tapping into these networks can bring measurable health improvements to rural and underserved communities on a national scale with reduced cost. Arnhold Institute researchers partnered with Fonkoze (the largest microfinance organization in Haiti) and tested whether training microfinance center chiefs to deliver micronutrient supplements during credit center meetings could improve the health of children under five. "Given the strength of informal institutions and markets in low-income countries like Haiti, we wanted to see if leveraging them could be effective in distributing essential health products," said Aaron Baum, PhD, assistant professor of global health and lead economist at the Arnhold Institute for Global Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and lead author of the study. "This is the first randomized trial that provides evidence of the beneficial health impacts from integrating microfinance and health care services. If we can increase coverage of existing health interventions such as vaccines, micronutrient supplements, and water purification tablets, two-thirds of child deaths could be prevented. We believe that MFI-based delivery of health services offers a promising approach to reach scale." Prabhjot Singh, MD, PhD, director of the Arnhold Institute for Global Health and chair in the department of health system design and global health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai said, "The findings indicate that networks organized by microfinance institutions offer an accessible bridge between health systems and the communities they serve."

- Aaron Baum, PhD, Assistant Professor, Global Health, Lead Economist, The Arnhold Institute for Global Health, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

- Prabhjot Singh, MD, PhD,  Director, Arnhold Institute for Global Health, Chair, Department of Health System Design and Global Health, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai 

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