U.N. Agencies and NGOs Urge Microcredit Institutions to Incorporate HIV/AIDS Education Into Lending Programs
U.N. agencies and non-governmental organizations on Tuesday urged microcredit institutions to help educate clients in developing nations about HIV/AIDS, Agence France-Presse reports. Representatives from the United Nations and the NGOs issued the statements during the Microcredit Summit Plus Five conference, which was called to review progress toward a goal of providing finance to 100 million of the poorest people in the world by 2005. Lynne Patterson of the NGO Promujer said that credit is often a mechanism for social interaction among poor women, who often organize themselves into groups to arrange loans and supervise each other's repayments. More than 75% of the 28.6 million poorest individuals estimated to currently have microcredit are women. Kul Gautam, deputy director of UNICEF, stated that it would "be a grave loss of an opportunity not to include information about HIV/AIDS in microcredit training," adding that microfinance helps empower women socially and economically. Chris Dunford, president of the NGO Freedom From Hunger, added that microcredit can provide a "powerful delivery system" for HIV/AIDS information and other health-related services to women and other individuals in developing nations. Freedom From Hunger has helped produce two training manuals for microcredit agencies that outline how agencies can educate clients in HIV prevention and HIV/AIDS-related discrimination. He added that microcredit agencies should "fight against the prejudice ... that 'bankers should stick to being bankers'" (Agence France-Presse, 11/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.