With the threat of aid cuts looming a pilot health microinsurance project in India is being used to challenge traditional church thinking on healthcare funding.
The Anglican Communion’s Anglican Health Network (AHN) is piloting health microinsurance in Karakonam, India and will soon launch a further pilot in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. As the impact of the global financial crisis is starting to affect traditional aid funding, Revd Paul Holley, AHN coordinator is suggesting that now is the time to reconsider how churches fund healthcare around the world.
With the World Health Organisation's calculation that almost half of health services in sub-Saharan Africa are provided by churches, AHN believes that health microinsurance might well provide the most reliable basis for the church's health services.
“In the past decade billions of dollars have been pledged to programmes to defeat HIV, malaria and other rampant diseases,” he said. “Church-owned hospitals have been able to enter partnerships with some of the large donors to play their part in treatment and prevention projects. However, the financial crisis is beginning to limit some of these programmes, and commentators are uncertain whether there will be more significant cuts to development aid in future.
"The ambitious promises of the past decade may now no longer be able to meet expectations," said Revd Holley. "In a time of uncertainty in the structure of global leadership, a self-sustaining programme such as the two we are offering in Karakonam and Dar es Salaam seems entirely appropriate.”
AHN's partner in this project is MicroEnsure, one of the world's leading microinsurance agencies. Already active in India, the Philippines, and many parts of Africa, the partnership with the Anglican Church is designed to bring together the marketing potential of the parish structure with the technical skills of the insurer. Anglican health services will be participating along with others from both the public and private sector.
The pilot in India has attracted over 40,000 members since its launch in October 2009. These include local Christian, Muslim and Hindu communities. Members find that they can better budget their health expenditure and avoid financial crisis when family sickness spirals out of control. Moreover, it provides Anglican health facilities with a more stable revenue stream upon which to plan services.
"Time and again I hear the same message from around the communion: Anglican health facilities are providing higher quality services than government at lower cost than the private sector." says Revd Holley. "However, the three traditional funding mechanisms of public subsidy, user fees and charitable support are under constant pressure. Health microinsurance brings a new opportunity to make Anglican health services sustainable".
See www.anglicanhealth.org for more details on this story.
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