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Glob J Health Sci. 2013 Oct 12;6(1):43-51. doi: 10.5539/gjhs.v6n1p43.

Design and baseline findings of a multi-site non-randomized evaluation of the effect of a health programme on microfinance clients in India.

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Indian Institute of Public Health Gandhinagar & Nossal Institute for Global Health, University of Melbourne.


Microfinance is the provision of financial services for the poor. Health program through microfinance has the potential to address several access barriers to health. We report the design and baseline findings of a multi-site non-randomized evaluation of the effect of a health program on the members of two microfinance organizations from Karnataka and Gujarat states of India. Villages identified for roll-out of health services with microfinance were pair-matched with microfinance only villages. A quantitative survey at inception and twelve months post health intervention compare the primary outcome (incidence of childhood diarrhea), and secondary outcome (place of last delivery, toilet at home, and out-of-pocket expenditure on treatment). At baseline, the intervention and comparison communities were similar except for out-of-pocket expenditure on health. Low reported use of toilet at home indicates the areas are heading towards a sanitation crisis. This should be an area of program priority for the microfinance organizations. While respondents primarily rely on their savings for meeting treatment expenditure, borrowing from friends, relatives, and money-lenders remains other important source of meeting treatment expenditure in the community. Programs need to prioritize steps to ensure awareness about national health insurance schemes, entitlement to increase service utilization, and developing additional health financing safety nets for financing outpatient care, that are responsible for majority of health-debt. Finally we discuss implications of such programs for national policy makers.

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