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Credit for health workers

During the first day of the International AIDS Conference in Vienna, I attended some interesting sessions on human resources for health and strategies to support health workers to deliver care. This included examples from HIV clinics in Northern Nigeria and maximising existing staff time in Jamaica.

One particularly motivating example was from TASO (The AIDS Support Organisation) in Uganda. Having previously volunteered in Uganda and alongside TASO, I was really excited to listen to their presentation on a staff saving credit scheme. The scheme aimed to reduce the financial stress of service providers.

Many HIV service providers earn low incomes and have heavy work schedules, so are unable to find additional employment and therefore additional income. Bank loans can provide the credit to fill the gap but they also come with high interest rates. This financial stress impacts morale and quality of care.
TASO formed a staff savings group and credit scheme in 2006. Since then, 80% of the 1,000 plus staff have become members. Their collective savings grew from $126,000 to $308,600 from 2006 to 2009. In order to manage the funds, an executive has been elected and voted in. Money is loaned to staff at 5% interest rate with a 2 year minimum loan. This reduces the financial stress and improves retention and innovation, leading to an owner controlled approach. It has given staff the opportunity to save, borrow and earn a dividend easily.

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So what is next for this scheme? They hope to transform it to an employee owned microfinance institution. I hope this remains successful.

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