“My experience in Las Delicias continues to linger in my mind and pave my career path. I’ve watched a mother like Lupe break into sobs of happiness after working to earn her family a clean unit to store water for bathing and washing dishes and clothes. I’ve witnessed a community like Las Delicias take charge of their own health when provided with the right kind of investment. I’ve seen an inspired idea turn into something real and beneficial.”
- Maithri Vangala, Former Micro Health Insurance Specialist
FIMRC established the Micro Health Insurance Program in June 2008 to assist the community achieve a higher level of baseline health at Project Las Delicias in El Salvador. Because FIMRC strives for sustainability and innovation, these components are key in the Micro Health Insurance Program. MHIP is the first non-monetary model of health insurance that combines health education and community development projects with improved access to medical services to provide comprehensive health care for the entire family, all at zero financial cost to participants. Through MHIP, individuals participate in health education sessions, home visits, community-wide health events, monthly wellness visits, and quarterly feces exams to prevent and treat the spread of parasites.
How It Works: Education and Access
Education and improved access to medical services are the key components of MHIP and are fostered through five major initiatives.
- Health Education Sessions: FIMRC strongly believes that education is essential to avoiding preventable illnesses and improving overall baseline health. Weekly health sessions presented by MHIP staff and FIMRC volunteers address both immediate and long-term health concerns of individual families and the community at large. Past topics have included nutrition, health and hygiene, upper respiratory infections, and breast cancer.
- Home Visits: Once participants are informed of potential health risks and how to prevent them, they must demonstrate application of this knowledge and a pro-active attitude towards health. MHIP staff conducts regular home visits to monitor and reinforce the application of all information shared during the health lessons.
- Community Participation: A child’s health is affected by both the home environment and by the health conditions and practices of the community at large. MHIP participants organize and implement projects and health related events that encourage community-wide positive behavioral change.
- Monthly Wellness Visits: MHIP participants attend monthly wellness visits to monitor healthy growth and development and to catch any illness before it becomes too grave. Monthly visits also foster trustful and communicative relations between the attending physician and participants.
- Quarterly Feces Exams: Parasites and worms are unfortunately a fact of life for many children in the developing world. In addition to education on proper food preparation and treatment of drinking water, MHIP provides quarterly testing of feces and treatment in the event a child is diagnosed with parasites or worms.
Each initiative of the Micro Health Insurance Program is important in developing self-efficacy in the community and increasing knowledge, medical adherence, and skills to achieve a better health status. Because of active participation, the individuals place more importance on their own health as well their family’s heath status.
In return for adherence in the various components of the Micro Heath Insurance Program and positive health changes, participants accrue health credits, which can be used to “purchase” tangible goods that improve baseline health. Examples include water filters, mosquito nets, and concrete floors.
This month at Project Las Delicias, the Staff has been working with community to teach charlas, or health education lessons, about the prevention and maintenance of diabetes. The group is planning more initiatives as the summer goes on, including a group focused on preventing parasites in school-aged children.
FIMRC’s former Micro Health Insurance Program Specialist, Maithri Vangala, shares her experience working with the community in Las Delicias, El Salvador to achieve better health. Her personal account shows us not only how the community is positively affected by the program, but also how we as Volunteers, Ambassadors, Fellows, and public health professionals can learn and grow from teaching and interacting with communities like Las Delicias. Read her post on Medium to learn more about the Micro Health Insurance Program and to stay up to date as she posts about events and new ideas from the GBCHealth 2013 Conference and Awards May 15-17th, 2013.
Interested in replicating this program? Please contact FIMRC at firstname.lastname@example.org