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International charity offers health as well as loans

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.321.7261.592 (Published 09 September 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:592

The WHO calculates that more than one billion people live in extreme poverty. Zosia Kmietowicz explains how one charity has found a way of improving the health and wealth of women in need

An international charity that provides small loans for women in impoverished communities has taken the unusual step of providing a health education service alongside its credit facilities. And from an early evaluation, it seems that financial and physical health messages mix well together.

The effectiveness of the village health bank scheme, run by Project Hope, whose international headquarters is in Millwood, Virginia, has been evaluated by researchers from the George Washington University Center for International Health, in Washington, DC.

The evaluation found that the health status of members of the village health banks (as measured by six critical health indicators including contraceptive use, annual cancer screening, postnatal care, immunisation, child growth, and prevalence of diarrhoea) was 14% higher than that of participants receiving credit-only services and not health education.

Now Project Hope wants to expand its village health banking scheme, from the countries where it operates at present (Honduras, Ecuador, Malawi, Guatemala, and Peru), to several other developing countries, including Thailand and the …

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