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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 99, Issue 1, pp 66–68 | Cite as

Evaluating the Unintended Health Consequences of Poverty Alleviation Strategies

Or What Is the Relevance of Mohammed Yunus to Public Health?
  • K. S. Mohindra
  • Slim Haddad
Commentary

Abstract

Public health researchers are increasingly shifting their attention away from merely documenting those factors that determine health–a solid evidence base on health determinants now exists–to improving our understanding of how various interventions influence population health. This paper argues for greater investigations of the potential unintended health benefits associated with participation in a poverty alleviation strategy (PAS) in low-income countries. We focus on microcredit, a PAS that has been spreading across the developing world. Microcredit aims to address the “credit gap” between the poor and the better off by offering an alternative for the poor to acquire loans: small groups are formed and loans are allocated to members based on group solidarity instead of formal collateral. We argue that microcredit corresponds with activities that will help build up health capital (e.g., greater access to resources) and describe the main pathways from microcredit participation to health. We advocate that microcredit and other potential pro-health PAS be included among the range of interventions considered by public health researchers in improving the health of the poor.

MeSH terms

Developing countries poverty women’s health 

Résumé

Les facteurs déterminants de la santé des populations sont désormais de mieux en mieux connus. L’attention des chercheurs et des professionnels de la santé publique tend ainsi à se porter davantage sur les effets d’interventions à visée collective et les mécanismes par lesquels ces interventions contribuent à la santé des populations. Cet article défend l’idée selon laquelle il conviendrait d’explorer de manière plus soutenue et plus systématique les effets sur la santé de la participation, dans des pays à faible et moyen revenu, à des activités de lutte contre la pauvreté. Le microcrédit, dont la diffusion est désormais très large, constitue l’une de ces stratégies. Il cible des populations pauvres qui, faute de pouvoir présenter des garanties suffisantes, ne peuvent accéder au crédit, et contribue ainsi à réduire les inégalités sociales. Typiquement, les participants sont réunis au sein de « groupes de microcrédit » solidairement responsables des emprunts réalisés par les membres. Nous soutenons que la participation à des groupes de microcrédit peut, même si ce n’est pas là son intention initiale, contribuer de manière sensible au « capital de santé » des membres des groupes, et explorons les divers mécanismes par lesquels cette contribution peut s’opérer. Nous proposons d’incorporer le microcrédit et les stratégies de lutte contre la pauvreté dans la panoplie des interventions que les acteurs de la santé publique devraient considérer pour promouvoir la santé des populations pauvres.

Motsclés

pays en développement pauvreté santé des femmes 

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Groupe de Recherche Interdisciplinaire en Santé (GRIS)Unité de santé internationale, Université de MontréalMontréalCanada

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