Microcredit Summit Campaign and Partners Harness Collective Action in Microfinance and Maternal Health Project

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CARD Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI), Freedom from Hunger, and the Microcredit Summit Campaign celebrated the achievements of the "Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies: Kalinga kay Inay" project and the important partnerships established with local and national government units, domestic and international funders, and microfinance and health institutions in the past 14 months. Some 800,000 women have received maternal health education and about 9000 women received OB/GYN and other exams.

Leaders from CARD MRI, Freedom from Hunger, and the Microcredit Summit Campaign sign the Commitment wall

Leaders from CARD MRI, Freedom from Hunger, and the Microcredit Summit Campaign sign the Commitment wall

"Our goal is that none of our clients will die due to pregnancy and pregnancy-related illnesses" -- Dr. Alip, CARD MRI

Partners in a microfinance and health project in the Philippines celebrated the achievements of the "Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies: Kalinga kay Inay" project and the important partnerships established with local and national government units, domestic and international funders, and microfinance and health institutions. Project partners CARD Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI), Freedom from Hunger, and the Microcredit Summit Campaign provided maternal health services to some 800,000 women in poor and rural communities in Luzon, Mindanao, and the Visayas over the past year.

"When CARD MRI started this project with Freedom from Hunger and the Microcredit Summit Campaign, we are happy that we are not alone in our goal of protecting the health of our women clients. Our goal is that none of our clients will die due to pregnancy and pregnancy-related illnesses," said Dr. Jaime Aristotle B. Alip, founder and managing director of CARD MRI.

With this support, CARD MRI trained more than 2,000 account officers (AOs) in 32,117 centers to deliver the health education to CARD members. The AOs educated an average of 5,000 women per day over the last eight months on important maternal health issues. Each woman received a total of two hours of instruction in bite-sized, 15-20 minute sessions over 8 weeks. Through a dialogue-based, participatory methodology, these women learned simple but important lessons such as the importance of pre-natal visits, giving birth in a health facility, and good nutrition.

This educational effort was reinforced with 15 community health days for CARD members and women from the local community. Nearly 9,000 women received free OB/GYN consultations, ultrasounds, vitamins, and other products and services, which are otherwise unavailable or unaffordable. This was a large, collaborative effort that required the participation of the local and national government, microfinance institutions, foundations, and others. It was made possible through an educational grant from Johnson & Johnson.

"The Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies initiative demonstrates the power of partnership of the health and financial sectors," said Kathleen Stack, vice president of programs, Freedom from Hunger. "We salute the women and service providers who joined hands to make healthier lives possible for so many vulnerable Filipino families."

Ruby attended the health fair in Davao City; at 40 years old, she is pregnant with her sixth child. "My 5th child is now 12 years old," she said in an interview, "and I didn’t expect to have another baby so do not have the supplies anymore." Ruby plans to deliver her baby in a private hospital, which cost her 15,000 to 20,000 pesos with PhilHealth, and plans get a tubal ligation done so that this is her last pregnancy.

"Family health crises are major roadblocks on the pathway out of poverty," said Larry Reed, director of the Microcredit Summit Campaign. "If microfinance institutions want to contribute to the global goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030, they will need to partner with the health sector."

Through the collaboration and relationship-building activities of this project, CARD and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) have finalized details for a family planning project targeted for roll-out in early 2016. The MFIs for Health Consortium has been expanded from 18 to 21 members, 14 of which participated in capacity building training to prepare to roll out the maternal health education module. Furthermore, 10 members have launched Campaign Commitments to expand access to quality health products and services to their clients.

With the era of the Millennium Development Goals drawing to a close and the Global Goals for Sustainable Development on the horizon, this and future collaborations to educate about and expand access to health services is critical for meeting the needs of poor communities.

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CARD MRI is a group of mutually reinforcing institutions with a common goal of alleviating poverty in the Philippines and improving the quality of lives of the socially-and-economically challenged women and families towards nation building. It has local and international presence helping 3.2 million clients in the Philippines in terms of financial and non-financial services.

Founded in 1946, Freedom from Hunger is a US-based international development organization that brings innovative and sustainable self-help solutions to the fight against chronic hunger and poverty. By partnering with local microfinance institutions (MFIs) and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America, Freedom from Hunger is reaching 5.7 million women, equipping them with resources they need to build futures of health, hope and dignity.

The Microcredit Summit Campaign is a project of RESULTS Educational Fund, is the largest global network of institutions and individuals involved in microfinance. The Campaign will host the 18th Microcredit Summit in Abu Dhabi, UAE, in March 15-17, 2016.

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