Microfinance organizations have often been used as a channel for providing health education and other non-financial services to underserved communities. This paper by Freedom from Hunger (now a part of Grameen Foundation) evaluates whether integrating health education into microcredit lending groups reduces health risks by improving health knowledge and self-reported behaviors. The study found combining microcredit and health education can improve health knowledge but did not find significant improvement in behavior. Recommendations from the paper suggest that we need to consider more health financing options, more direct linkages to health providers, and consider the tradeoffs for mixed-gender vs. all-female groups.
The study was done with Innovations for Poverty Action and has been published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.