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Seattle non-profits partner on global health microfinance initiative
Posted by Kristi Heim
Update: I wrote a little more about this partnership in my story today. What's at the heart of this effort seems to be identifying the most urgent health needs of Pro Mujer's clients in Nicaragua and then using microcredit to create a model to finance solutions that are both affordable for the clients and sustainable for the non-profit. Currently the health programs are subsidized by the financial arm.
The partners say they hope the model can be applied anywhere.
"Microfinance alone, healthcare alone or education alone cannot solve all of the issues of poverty," remarked David Valle, CEO of Esperanza International, a Bellevue-based non-profit that is integrating microfinance, healthcare and education in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. "But when these solutions are combined...now you have something powerful!"
Local non-profits Global Partnerships and PATH will work together on a global health initiative using microfinance to reach women in Latin America.
The two will work with Pro Mujer, an organization that funds microcredit cooperatives in Latin America and combines small loans with other services, such as business training and regular health checkups. More details on the partnership are expected next week.
Microcredit, with networks reaching millions of people in developing countries, is thought to be a promising way to distribute health solutions and other services to the rural poor.
One innovative program by Pro Mujer provides health screenings using a van retrofitted with consultation rooms and staffed by medical personnel. Global Partnerships CEO Rick Beckett described the mobile health clinics in a recent presentation about Pro Mujer's work to provide cervical cancer testing to its borrowers in Peru.
The health screenings increased the number of women tested from one third to about 95 percent over four years, and revealed treatable tumors that could prove fatal if undetected.
Global Partnerships has committed about $52 million toward microfinance in Latin America and is working to help Pro Mujer find a financially sustainable way to fund such health programs.
It's a natural fit for PATH, which could contribute its health systems expertise for the developing world, along with potential technology and commercial partners.
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