By Laura Messing, Pro Mujer Health Program Associate.
Pro Mujer recently celebrated yet another major milestone thanks in large part to our partnership with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) by launching a revamped health clinic in a focal center located in the San Bernabe neighborhood of Moquegua in southern Peru. This is our fourth health clinic in the country that is part of the complete health model. It promotes healthy habits and addresses the increasingly serious problem of chronic disease by focusing on the detection, prevention and treatment of chronic diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes, and breast and cervical cancers, which are chronic diseases that disproportionately impact the low-income women we serve.
The model is innovative because it provides our clients and their families with easy, convenient and affordable access to high-quality healthcare. These services are delivered in clinics that are located in Pro Mujer centers where clients and their communal bank groups already gather to receive loan disbursements or repay loans. This “one-stop shopping” also makes it cost-effective for the organization by leveraging our existing infrastructure, thus helping to ensure its sustainability. The San Bernabe center is expected to double the number of people who will have access to a wide range of medical, dental and ultrasound services to 4,200 clients.
In conjunction with its inauguration, several new initiatives to promote healthy diets and exercise were also launched. Clients often find themselves seated for long periods of time during repayment meetings and it’s easy to pass the time by eating unhealthy snacks purchased from outside food vendors. Our health team saw this as an opportunity to innovate by adding a healthy snack bar and exercise area into the center. Clients no longer have to give in to the temptation of junk food while waiting around idly. For two Peruvian soles ($0.70), they can take advantage of aerobics and dance classes followed by a fresh fruit smoothie, roasted nuts or a low-fat chicken sandwich or other healthy treat from the snack stand.
These new additions not only support women in being proactive with their health, they also provide a source of income for our clients. Leonor operates the new snack kiosk. She is a single mother of two children and has been a Pro Mujer client for more than eight years. When asked why she decided to open her latest business venture, Doña Leonor responded, “Through Pro Mujer, I’ve learned that a healthy lifestyle starts with a healthy diet and this is what has inspired me to support others, especially other clients, in staying healthy.”
For now, aerobic and dance classes are held four times a week. Pro Mujer staff is currently leading them, but the goal is to identify a client who will be able to teach them.
The GSK/Pro Mujer partnership began in 2010 and since then, the scope and delivery of the health model has grown exponentially. By the end of 2013, Pro Mujer was able to deliver 1.1 million healthcare services and consultations to low-income women across Latin America. In addition, as a result of this pioneering approach to healthcare within the context of microfinance, Pro Mujer’s President and CEO, Rosario Perez, was named a 2014 Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur in March of 2014.
By creating a more sustainable healthcare model with the support of GSK, Pro Mujer is crafting a stronger program and testing an approach that has the potential to be replicated to benefit low-income families all over the world.