Grassroots Women and Peer Learning: Home-Based Caregiver Networks and Health Mutual Funds
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AbstractUniversal access and financial risk protection are identified as health targets in global negotiations for post 2015 development goals although these represent difficult challenges for countries burdened by overstretched budgets and growing populations with increasingly complex health care needs. In many parts of Africa health financing is characterized by weak, under-resourced systems, high out of pocket contributions and lack of donor will. The paper gains insight from small scale, creative financing strategies for health emerging among the very poor through innovations of grassroots women’s networks. We explore the influence of peer learning and information exchange in women’s home-based caregiver networks that emerged in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in various parts of Africa. This examination of an Africa/Asia peer exchange focuses on results of information sharing, particularly replication of the shared “best practice” of a health mutual fund model among caregiver groups from Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria. In all three countries semi-structured interviews of peer exchange participants report rapid launch of a fund (within one to two years in all three countries) after participants returned. Additional replications in the form of spin off funds are the result of women’s engagement in follow up education and training. The paper examines characteristics of the replicated health mutual funds uncovering potential for new partnerships with governments in years to come.