Preventing Anemia with Self-Help Groups India

Research Brief 

Lessons learned from our innovations on the ground are now available in a series of technical guides that are designed to enable other MFIs to successfully add and integrate health education, health financing mechanisms, health provider linkages, and/or other health services.

Our Specialised Technical Guides

Freedom From Hunger India is supporting more than 200,000 adolescent girls through the SABLA Programme.

1.29 billion people in the developing world live on less than $1.25 a day. Many of them are just one illness away from losing everything. The relationship between ill health and poverty is inextricable. Illness can be financially catastrophic for poor households—quickly depleting income and savings—because of out-of-pocket healthcare expenses and the time away from their work when sick or caring for a sick family member. This is why health shocks are important factors in reinforcing the poverty cycle.

Freedom from Hunger, a recognized expert in integrated financial and nonfinancial services for the poor, launched the Microfinance and Health Protection (MAHP) initiative in January 2006 with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The initiative aims to develop and test integrated microfinance and health-protection products and services that positively impact clients’ lives while being practical and sustainable for microfinance institutions (MFIs). Today, integrated microfinance and health protection services are benefiting nearly 2.3 million microfinance clients in ten countries.

Brief Overview of the MAHP Initiative:

The integration of Microfinance and Health Protection (MAHP) services is an innovative approach that delivers cost- effective health interventions at scale by partnering with established microfinance service providers. These institutions customize their packages of health products and services to meet the unique needs of the clients that they serve. 

Health packages generally include a combination of the following services:

  • Health education
  • Health financing, such as health loans, savings accounts and micro-insurance
  • Access to quality Health Care Services and Products

MAHP in India:

What better place to start building this movement than in India where there is an established interest in integrated approaches and a substantial need. Despite numerous central and state government efforts to increase access to health and financial services, poor families continue to bear heavy burdens resulting from preventable diseases, high rates of maternal and infant mortality and non-communicable diseases.

Freedom from Hunger and the Microcredit Summit Campaign are addressing the link between ill health and poverty by championing the delivery of integrated health protection services using the platform of microfinance.The Alliance is already working with 38 Indian organizations that provide microfinance services to their poorest, primarily rural, clients. Through these partnerships, more than a half million poor clients and their families—some 3 million people—now have access to health services through their financial institution. 

Our Objectives in India: 

  • Adapt and replicate the microfinance and health protection model to create a large demonstration for the delivery of cost-effective health interventions at scale through several organizations in varying contexts.
  • Identify and develop promising innovations with local partners and healthcare providers that can be linked with microfinance service providers for rapid and efficient scale-up.
  • Catalyze collective learning about the integration of health and financial services by contributing to research and advocacy efforts that promote an understanding of the impacts on the poor.​ 
  • Support the development of an Indian “community of practice” to encourage growth and innovation in health and microfinance products and services throughout India. 

The Health and Microfinance Alliance has reached more than a million poor women and their families by the end of 2014 and strives to reach 3 million such women by the end of 2016.

microfinance and health protection

Health Integration Model developed Freedom From Hunger India Trust is aimed at encouraging one of the most basic need for health and survival- Washing Hands and Maintaining Hygiene 

The goal of Anaemia PLC module is to create awareness about anaemia--how it is caused and affects the health of children, adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women with knowledge of adopting improved practices to prevent anaemia.

Pictorial Learning Conversation (PLC) is a unique training methodology of Freedom from Hunger India Trust (FFH-IT) using pictures and stories to communicate health messages on various health topics followed by discussions amongst SHG women. They are designed to be simple and appropriate for illiterate participants to gain important information, knowledge and skills relevant to their lives that can be adopted and practiced at household level as an outcome of behaviour change.

About Anaemia PLC

The Microfinance and Health Protection (MAHP) Resource Page provides detailed information about the programme along with our publications, reports, research documents and policy papers. 

CLICK HERE for more details.


Taking the First Step to Success